Channel 4’s Dispatches is set to follow the recent documentary exposing the casual brutality of the current assessment process for sickness and disability benefits with some good old fashioned benefit bashing propaganda.
Monday night will see the Dispatches series examining the ruthless criminals who occasionally may fib to the Jobcentre about their job seeing activity.
No doubt media luvvies at Channel 4 believe that this will demonstrate some sort of balance after their recent condemnation of the Work Capability Assessment. It shows just how far the demonisation of claimants has come when someone telling a fib on their Job Seeker’s Agreement is now judged to be a similar moral crime to the increasing number of sick and disabled claimants driven to suicide by the harsh reality of the benefits system.
It’s perhaps unfair to judge the programme until it has been screened, but the trailers currently advertised on Channel 4’s website don’t look good. Entitled ‘Tricks of the Dole Cheats‘, the programme will reveal the “the shirkers’ tricks that make it easy to cheat the system.”
With around half a million benefit sanctions handed out last year it is unclear exactly how easy it is to trick the system, but no doubt Channel 4 will enlighten us with a series of cunning stings on Jobcentre staff. One clip released shows how they cleverly dress someone in paint covered overalls and then send them to sign on.
This is an attempt to demonstrate how someone who is obviously working can sign on without adequate checks from Jobcentre staff. Viewers are forewarned that crafty claimants who have paint on their clothes when they go to sign on often claim they have been painting when questioned. As it turns out this is exactly what happens to their undercover sleuth, who is asked why he is covered in paint only to tell them he has been painting. Channel 4 presumably expected a benefit fraud SWAT team to immediately leap on the man and haul him into the courts to explain why he had paint on his clothes. Instead benefit office staff, not being psychic and too lazy to follow him home, simply believed him.
It remains to be seen whether Channel 4 will tell the stories of the people plunged into poverty and homelessness due to sanctions, the single mothers interrogated about their sex lives by pervy government busy bodies or the thousands of malicious and untrue calls to the Benefit Fraud Hotline.
Instead it seems a few lame tricks – when Jobcentre staff haven’t fully checked details on the reams of utterly pointless information claimants are expected to produce – are to be presented as evidence of how easy it is to cheat the system.
It is not known how many people are actively avoiding work whilst claiming Job Seekers Allowance, but it isn’t that many. The number of people unemployed for over two years is 440,000 and not all of these people will be on benefits. Of those who are the vast majority will be actively seeking work.
Some sadly may be unsuccessful. Lots of long term unemployed people are nearing retirement age. Some are homeless, have physical or mental health conditions or criminal records. Many will have children and be attempting to find jobs that can fit in with school hours and term times. The enduring myth of millions of feckless spongers just doesn’t stack up when you look at the figures.
It could even be argued that the workshy, in times of high unemployment, are actually doing those who want to work a favour. If some people can withstand the poverty of existence on Job Seekers Allowance then a sane society might say, with not enough jobs to go round anyway, let them get on with it. The simple fact is that the vast majority do not choose a life on benefits which increasingly barely cover the cost of even the most basic survival. If capitalism is so fucking great then what’s wrong with an opt out for people who can’t, or even won’t, join the great rat race.
Increasingly almost as much is spent on harassing the tiny number of alleged workshy as is spent on paying out their benefits. Right wingers would have us believe that if this harassment stopped, even for a second, then the entire working class would immediately nail themselves to the sofa to watch endless Jeremy Kyle repeats. The truth is that most people want to work, even if the current failing system doesn’t want to employ them.
The days of an easy life on benefits are long gone, despite whatever nonsense Dispatches have managed to cobble together. Benefit levels are now so low that few would choose the miserable subsistence life that they just about pay for. The vast majority of claimants are victims of casualisation, forced in and out of temporary and part time employment usually at the minimum wage, or increasingly workfare.
Tens of thousands of people are now working for free, sometimes for multi-national companies. Those on the minimum wage are forced to rely on in-work benefits to simply keep a roof over their heads. Long term unemployment continues to rise despite the hundreds of millions handed out by Chris Grayling to welfare to work parasites like A4e. Any notion of job security has all but disappeared, whilst cuts to further education have killed any illusion of social mobility. Capitalism has created an economic underclass that is devastating the potential of millions of lives. We are simply now only judged on how much money we can make for the rich and we have colluded in attacking each other instead of aiming our guns squarely in the faces of the bastards living lives of luxury on the back of this shit.
So Channel 4 found a few people who didn’t apply for as many jobs (that they probably won’t get) as they were supposed to as part of their Job Seekers Agreement. Well big fucking deal. What next, a gritty expose of how many people sometimes take their library books back a bit late?
Tricks of the Dole Cheats will be shown on Monday 13th August on Channel 4 at 8pm. In what appears to be a crude taunt by overpaid media twats aimed at the unemployed, they will be tweeting using the hashtag #hownottogetajob