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Channel 4’s Benefit Busters

August 21, 2009

Due to a lovely internet free holiday I have been able to retreat back to the TV, which I haven’t watched for months.  I have had the unexpected pleasure of watching Siavash in Big Brother and an exclusive ‘never seen before’ DNA result on Jeremy Kyle on Tuesday entitled Two Women, Two Babies, Two Weeks Apart.   

Last night I had the very real pleasure of watching the hybrid offspring of two of these programmes:  Big Brother + Jeremy Kyle = Benefit Busters

Hayley Taylor’s job is to persuade single mothers on benefits to go back to work.

The company she works for, A4E, which is helping to tackle the Government’s target of getting 70 per cent of lone parents into paid work by 2010, is the largest welfare reform company in the world.

A4E is run by multimillionaire entrepreneur Emma Harrison, who believes her business is ‘improving people’s lives by getting them into work.’

Until recently, the 700,000 lone parents receiving benefit didn’t have to look for work until their youngest child was 16. Soon, they must either work, or be looking for work, once their youngest child is seven.

At Doncaster A4E, Hayley runs a course called Elevate that aims to give lone parents the skills and confidence to enter the workplace and convince them they’ll be better off doing so. Cameras follow her group of ten single mothers during their intensive six-week course to prepare them for work.


Hokey cokey pig in a pokey, good morning job seekers. I am Pauline Cambell-Jones and I`m here to help all you shit stinking dolescum to get a job.

Channel 4 deliberately chose a Pauline type ‘advisor’ in Hayley Taylor for the first episode, and showed her bullying a group of single parents: one of NL;SoS’s favourite target groups to abuse.  Others include people too ill to work, asylum seekers and immigrants.

Newspaper reviews seem to have accepted Benefit Busters as a piece of lightweight toss, which it was – but it could have been so different had some basic facts been included in the programme.


Jobs at Poundland will NOT reduce poverty.  In a section entitled Work towards better jobs, not just more jobs written as part of the ten steps making up the Child Poverty Action Group’s Manifesto to eradicate child poverty in 2005

Forcing people into low paid jobs will not reduce child poverty. Children are picking up the tab for employers who fail to pay their parents a living wage. Society is subsidising bad employers through the WTC. The reduction of child poverty requires not just an increase in the employment rate or the hours worked, but better remuneration. The UK experiences high wage inequality. For a substantial minority inadequate pay is also associated with insecure conditions.

 Just in case you didn’t know:

The rates from 1 October 2009 will be:

  • £5.80 an hour for adults (workers aged 22 and over)
  • £4.83 an hour for workers aged 18 to 21 inclusive
  • £3.57 an hour for young people

Allowing people on low incomes to build up debt is wrong. Credit card companies had allowed one woman featured in this show to accrue £75,000 worth of debt in five years before pulling the plug.  This was credit allowed to a woman living on benefits.  This is immoral and pure greed on the part of the credit card companies and is just one example of why our economic system should be outlawed!  We didn’t see any example of this woman being advised to seek proper financial advice to deal with this vast sum of debt, we actually saw her being belittled by the ‘advisor’ and a close up of her plasma TV.


Bringing up children IS WORK.  None of the women portrayed in the programme had been unemployed for any length of time since they gave birth, as they were and are WORKING by bringing up their children.


It is highly beneficial for a child of a lone parent to be brought up by their parent.  Child care is all well and good and a lot of parents obviously choose to use it.  But, there are also a lot of parents who believe or who know from experience, that a child should NOT spend a working week and travel time (30-50 hours per week) in a day-care/out of school facility – that it is in fact detrimentalto their child(ren), and it also believe/know from experience that it is highly detrimental to said child(ren) to have a parent who is massively stressed and tired. 


A4E are a very controversial company and have continuously been accused of fraud, and investigations abound.  Just look at blogs such as Watching A4e for more detail.


I am, however, very glad that this programme was made as a lot of people are unaware of exactly how New Labour;Shower of Shit are abusing and attacking the most vulnerable people in our society, and these 3 Benefit Busters programmes and the ensuing debates will show the tip of the horrible iceberg of Government abuse in the UK.  We are one of the richest nations in the world, why is it that we can’t look after our most vulnerable people?

NB:  I look forward to Serco introducing it’s bullyingservices to the unemployed of North Wales in October. Yes, that is the very same Serco who abuse in Yarl’s Wood and close schools. They are highly qualified to take on the task!

Update:  Dublin’s Herald got the gist of Benefit Busters:

It seems the programme was designed to evoke fear (from those on welfare) and loathing (from those who are not). It succeeded on the latter, but the fear they hoped to raise can only have turned to apathy by the end of the programme.

Benefit seekers will be skipping to the dole queue thanks to the parting image of the women stacking shelves in Poundland. While wearing Santa hats. Benefit Busters was an engaging watch for all the wrong reasons.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2009 23:53

    Now that, is a rebuttal! *applause*
    (awful how something mercilessly satirised by LoG is NL’s solution to the labour surplus its neoliberal policies actually rely on and create, pigs in a poke!)

  2. August 22, 2009 19:35

    I like the facts here – so true!

    -NMW jobs wont reduce poverty like you say, a lot of the time they get less then benefits.

    -The debt: I doubt they would lend me £200, how did she get £75k? Why doesn’t she just become bankrupt as she is going to live a life of benefits anyway?

    -This is the major thing I was thinking all along – how can you say that carrying a baby, giving birth and then bring up children… ALONE, isn’t hard work? For a woman that delivered the course it was dreadful that she didn’t understand this – maybe she doesn’t have children of her own.

    -I agree – childcare should be used as minimal as possible. The more its used the weaker the mother and child bond and damages the childs development and upbringing.

    -Controversial… yes, I just added on my blog that they have a target of 70% of lone parents to get into work but out of a group of 10, only 4 found work (40%) and only 3 had sustainable jobs. Of course they have more clients than the 10 on the TV but those on TV were cherry picked, had more support, more financial resources were available, had a picked tutor and even the A4e chair Emma came along – and to no avail even with the Chair of the company in attendance only 3 could get sustainable jobs. Very poor!

  3. polly permalink
    August 24, 2009 22:57

    Aaaaaargghhhh I watched this online and nearly through my monitor through the window. Emma wotsit has to be the creepiest woman alive.

  4. August 25, 2009 03:40

    Ha, that’s how you become a millionaire – be a creepy person!

    It’s a horrible system set up by horrible people.

  5. October 10, 2009 21:59

    Here’s an interesting revelation from Queen Emma of A4e in a recent Guardian interview:

    “You can’t sit everyone in a classroom for 30 hours for 13 weeks. It’s just wrong, and it doesn’t work. It’s like going to a hospital and everyone getting the same treatment.”‘

  6. October 11, 2009 01:33

    One story for the Guardian and another for the actual inmates of her courses. Stupid woman.

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