Benefits Street: Last Word – what did the episode really achieve?

The benefits system was described as “a vital clog to how the country is run” by Michael, 20, London. Although it appears a large amount of our panel did not agree with that comment, as a number of the panel saw the Channel 4 series, Benefits Street, as an eye-opener to how much users of the benefits system can really get away with.

The panel described the current welfare system in the UK as “broken”, that tax payers are wasting money on funding a specific lifestyle that was portrayed on Benefits Street. Although the minority of the panel did sympathise with those that were exposed on the Benefits Street show, commenting that they felt parts of the show had been exaggerated simply to be controversial.

[easychart type=”pie” title=”Do you think the current benefits system is too cushy?” groupnames=”Yes,No” group1values=”69.28″ group2values=”30.72″ chartfadecolor=”FFFFFF”]

Of the panel surveyed, 69.28% felt that the current benefits is too cushy, with 64% stating that Benefits Street had not changed their view of the current welfare system – if anything it appeared to spark further negative feelings towards those claiming benefits, that really you can live a relatively comfortable life on benefits. However, it appeared some of the panel felt the Benefits Street series should be ‘taken with a pinch of salt’, as it is reality television – as with any reality TV show, they seek the entertainment factor and will focus on the characters that are more likely to spark public opinions.

When it came to ‘Benefits Street: The Last Word’, 83% of the panel said they had already watched the show or were planning on watching the show on demand. However a number of the panel felt disappointed by the show, as there was such a variety of guests on the show, that it was a case of whoever was loudest got to express their opinion, not everyone was listened to and it felt that nothing was really solved.

[easychart type=”pie” title=”Do you think it pays to work in the UK?” groupnames=”Yes,No” group1values=”52.94″ group2values=”47.06″ chartfadecolor=”FFFFFF”]

When it came to working in the UK, it seems our panel were relatively split down the middle to whether it really pays to work, with a number commenting that Benefits Street has just confirmed their opinion that you can live your whole life happily on benefits. Some commented that the show really depicts the hardships and reality of life on benefits. Others had much more adverse opinions, associating the show with what’s wrong with the UK – a number of the population are simply not willing to work, and happy to stay on benefits. It’s far to say that although Benefits Street as a program has not solved any issues within the welfare system, however it seems that the controversy around the show has brought to light issues in the UK that do need the attention of governing bodies.