There’s been a lot of controversy around the latest Channel 4 series, Skint, which follows a family that live on Westcliff estate in Scunthorpe.
The series protagonist, Dean, was made redundant from his job at the steelworks and has been ‘on the social’ for a year. He lives with his wife Claire and 7 step children and children.
Skint in Scunthorpe
The series focuses on the lives of a group of people who are either in long-term unemployment, have never worked, or are growing up without any expectation of working. In case you haven’t seen it yet, it’s on Channel 4 every Monday at 9pm.
The first episode of Skint pulled in over three million viewers and it has divided public opinion.
Was it a compelling and realistic portrayal of living in long-term unemployment or another scripted reality show with nothing more to offer than narrow minded stereotypes?
Long-term unemployment in the UK
Much like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, C4 is known for it’s tongue in cheek documentaries. A lot of people tweeting and commenting about the show found it to be compelling, with larger than life characters and exaggerated scripts – another reality TV show masquerading as a fly-on-the-wall documentary. So should we be taking it seriously?
Channel 4 states:
Told with energy, humour and boldness, this series offers an insight into their lives: highlighting social issues such as youth unemployment, crime, welfare dependency, truancy and addiction; but with the characters also revealing their ingenuity, resilience, community support and love and pride of family. Skint gets behind the headlines as people, often maligned for their lifestyle, offer their own story and show the real impact of worklessness – both today and over generations.
With this statement in mind, it suggests that Skint is in fact supposed to be an insightful documentary about people in long-term unemployment and dependent on benefits to get by. Which begs the question; is this a fair representation of the people that live on the estate? Or is it a misrepresentation of the long-term unemployed in the UK?
Culture of “worklessness?”
Many have accused Channel 4 of demonising the poor and perpetuating lazy representations of people on benefits as “scroungers”.
With Universal Credit getting rolled out and millions of families being hit hard with cuts – programmes like Skint are seen by many as unhelpful and insulting to the millions of families who work hard and the individuals receiving job seekers allowance who are desperately trying to find work.
These are the real survival stories of the recession – and we think it’s their voice that should be heard.
To put things into perspective, the latest DWP benefit fraud and error figures show that 0.7% of benefits are overpaid due to fraud, 0.9% due to claimant error and 0.4% due to official error.
As well as this, only 8% of out-of-work claimants have three or more children. And less than 1% of households have had two generations out of work. These figures reveal that there is no evidence for a “culture of worklessness” as is often portrayed in the media.
In our view, Skint is quickly proving itself to be sensationalist TV at its worst; created to bump up viewing figures and create headlines that perpetuate the myth that everyone on benefits are “scroungers” and don’t deserve to be helped.
What did you think about Skint?
Comment below or join in the discussion on Facebook.
Our Senior consultant, Sarah Longsdale, went to the Credit Today Awards 2013 as one of the Debt Counsellor of the Year finalists.
Winning the Debt Advisor of the Year in 2011 with the industry Trade Body, Debt Resolution Forum, and then again in 2012 for Investor in the Community, we were over the moon to have our long standing advisor, Sarah Longsdale be named as a Finalist for the Credit Today Awards as Debt Counsellor of the Year 2013.
ClearDebt advisor Sarah Longsdale – Finalist for Debt Counsellor of the Year 2013 with Credit Today
The benchmark for advice, Sarah routinely makes the concerns of her clients paramount; her intrinsic compassion for the people she advises immediately puts them at ease and she offers not just the most appropriate debt solution but support and reassurance when our clients most need it. Her trustworthy and professional manner matched with her empathy for a client’s situation professionally conveys the genuine ethics of our company.
The bedrock of a competent advisor is knowledge; through a culmination of years of refinement and self-development Sarah’s knowledge of the industry is by far one of the most expansive. She has been in the industry for 12 years now and was one of the first industry professionals to take and pass her CertDR examination. Her hard work and perseverance delivered an overall average of 84%. Her appetite to learn and rise to the challenge paid off and we are truly proud and honoured to have her as a member of our team.
Our clients say of Sarah,
Sarah was very friendly and efficient with dealing with any problems I had.
Sarah helped me to prioritise my debts and sort out the mess I was left in after the collapse of Apex DMC. Everything looked very black and I was beginning to despair of ever being debt free. Sarah rang me back when she said she would and was calm, reassuring and concise in the instructions she gave me about sending in paperwork and sorting out my debts. Sarah deserves recognition for the part she played in helping me overcome my worst ever financial nightmare.
View the story “Credit Today Awards 2013″ on Storify
Each month the whole ClearDebt team get together to award our mini heroes of the month. All staff get the chance to nominate someone they think has gone above and beyond their job and deserves to be rewarded for all their hard work.
April’s ClearDebt Mini Heroes
We’re pleased to announce this month’s winners are: Nathan Steele, Bella McVennon and Lisa Hubbard.
Nathan was nominated for using his own personal time to help with crucial restructuring that without him would have been a very difficult task.
Lisa for her approach to answering community questions, conducting research and providing thorough answers.
Bella for helping new starters without a prompt while maintaining her own work.
Congratulations to every one who received nominations this month!
Consumer group Which? has found the new proposals from the energy regulator Ofgem will leave 3.4 million households paying more than they should because the range of tariffs on offer are not clear.
Ofgem has introduced its new Tariff Comparison Rate, but this will only tell customers the representative price for a medium user of both gas and electricity.
According to Which?, only a quarter of UK households actually use this level of energy, which leaves the majority of people making price comparisons based on the wrong numbers.
Many people are in debt to their energy provider and in some cases this has happened because the consumer has been paying more than they need to.
It is important for those currently struggling with their finances to assess their energy bills as there could be some large savings on offer.
Which energy tariff is right for me?
The best way to find the right tariff for you is to use your actual readings instead of estimated price comparisons. How many units do you use in a month? Does this vary?
Find the average usage for your household and get quotes based on this from a number of providers. Make sure you know the facts – is it a fixed or variable rate? Is there an early exit fee? Direct Debit discount?
Do your research – if you think you are paying too much for your energy – you probably are.
Compare the comparison sites, find out what is most suitable for your lifestyle, speak to advisors, regularly read your meter and be savvy about your usage.
British Gas are the first provider to include information about how much you could save by switching to another tariff on their bills and it is likely that others will follow suit – so if you haven’t got the internet to check tariffs you can still find out how much you could be saving.
Finally, ask around your friends and family about how satisfied they are with their provider. Review sites for energy providers are one-sided at best. All have an average of around 1-2 out of 10, which just goes to show how dissatisfied we all are with our providers.
Share your experiences and help others choose the right provider for them.
Please comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.