Benefits Street – accurate of life on benefits or just good TV?

As the series of Benefits Street comes to an end, it seems a large proportion of our panel will be tuning in to watch. This question received a very quick speed of response, as the campaign neared completion in just over 2 hours.

93% of our panel had watched Benefits Street, and almost all of them had heard stories of the show. Although only 62% believed that the show was an accurate portrayal of people living on benefits. This segment of the panel enjoyed the community aspect of the programme that it gives you a bit of an insight into the lives of people from different walks of life. But mainly they liked the show because everyone was talking about it, their friends, colleagues and families – the more shocking scenes always seemed to be a talking point.

A considerable number felt frustrated and angry at the programme that it was just another example of how the tax we pay is being wasted, and the show just highlights the worst of the worst in the country – giving them their 5 minutes of fame. Although many were irritated by the show, it seems to be the kind of show you hate to love to watch.

Many felt that the show focussed on the small proportion of the population on benefits that don’t want to work and have no intention of getting a job, living up to the stereotype many people apply to everyone on benefits. They also felt it portrayed Birmingham in quite a bad light. A few panel members were surprised the show hadn’t been banned with the number of illegal activities shown, like the stealing and drug abuse. Although many agreed that the benefits situation on James Turner Street is not the same situation everywhere.