Channel 4 and Love Productions, the makers of the controversial TV series Benefits Street, regularly claim that their programme “reveals the reality of life on benefits”. But we work alongside people on benefits every day, and they don’t recognise their lives in the stories that are shown on screen. So we’ve set out to share the reality that doesn’t make it onto TV.
The new series of Benefits Street, filmed in Stockton-on-Tees, will begin on Monday 11 May. That same day, we will launch our own Real Benefits Street – sharing daily videos of people who receive benefits, telling their own stories. Here’s a clip:
Our aim is not to criticise the people who take part in Channel 4’s Benefits Street. Neil Maxwell, Julie Young, Lee Nutley, Dot Taylor and other residents of Kingston Road in Stockton-on-Tees have been brave and honest in telling their stories – just like ‘White Dee’ and other residents of James Turner Street in 2014.
But the way those stories are edited, produced and promoted in Benefits Street is sensationalist and insensitive, fuelling hatred and prejudice. People who took part in the first Benefits Street received death threats. The residents of Kingston Road are already being described in national headlines and on social media as “addicts and scroungers”.
Real Benefits Street aims to disprove the claims made by Channel 4 and Love Productions. This is the reality of life on benefits – told by people sharing their own experiences, without distortion or sensationalism.