Channel 4 and Love Productions, the makers of 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.
This is not a criticism of 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 sensational 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 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.