The real cheats?

Like many last night I sat down to watch the first in the series of programmes titled Undercover Benefits Cheat, with investigative reporter Paul Connolly and his team.

Undercover benefits cheat

To be fair I wasn’t sure what the programme would be like, was it going to join the ranks of other benefit hate propaganda that we have been exposed to on our screens recently.

To be truthful after a hours viewing I am still not sure where it does fall.

 

‘The skivers and scroungers we have exposed are all part of a crooked minority that will do whatever it takes to exploit the benefits system.

‘They cost taxpayers more than £1billion a year and give honest claimants a bad name.’

Paul Connolly

Paul states in the programme that those committing fraud are not the majority of benefit claimants  but lets be honest after watching last nights programme I am sure that this fact was lost on most viewers.

Selling dead babies birth certificates, fake car crashes, peeing yourself in public could it really get worse.

The programme made me and many on my social media furious and I know thats the response it is hoping to get, but my anger is not towards the benefit claimants but to those criminals who cheat the system and towards those that give them airtime.

I know people who have to claim benefits, who have no choice. 

There are those who work damn hard to get a job, applying for anything and everything.

Those who cannot work because they are raising their families, caring for someone. People who are genuinely ill or disabled.

Yet none of these people are waving excess amounts of money about that they have received from the system. They are parents  going without meals to purchase their kids school uniforms. Families struggling to survive, bills rising every day becoming a mountain that they never feel they will ever be able to climb.

I don’t see anyone being handled these benefits on a plate, I have watched people become depressed by the system. Being made to feel like the lowest of the low.

I have faced the awful experience of the PIP assessment with a family member, a government funding  assessor convinced that a paralysed arm can be moved. Humiliation and tears all in hope off being able to reject a claim.

I know there are some really shit people in the world and yes Paul Connolly introduced us to a number last night. But please remember that not everyone who receives benefits are con artists. They are using a system that is in place to help and support the vulnerable.

They are vulnerable and they are struggling.

Please remember that the majority of benefit claimants are decent human beings.

Paul Connolly did a great job of exposing the low life that abuse the system but remember that there are shitters in all walks of live.

Lets not allow the current government to use programmes like this as an excuse to cut benefits.

There are currently 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK.

That’s almost a third of all children. 1.6 million of these children live in severe poverty . In the UK 63% of children living in poverty are in a family where someone works. How does the government respond to this , they change the definition of poverty.

Take a look at the this infographic produced by the Public and Commercial Services Union

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Ask yourself why Paul Connolly isn’t on the doorstep of the bosses of Amazon and Starbucks?

Benefit fraud is wrong but programmes like this are making it out to be the biggest of issues. It’s wrong but there is an minority that is abusing the system, a small minority. As this infographic also shows that the story of fraud within the UK economy does not begin and end with benefit fraud.

Whilst the fraud you witness on Undercover benefit cheats is truly disgusting and completely criminal it is only one chapter of a much bigger story.

A story that needs to be told…

 

A woman leader? 

I have been following the contest for the labour leadership avidly and would have been at the Birmingham hustling this weekend if it wasn’t for a visit from a ambulance and a issue breathing. 

  
Anyway I am loving the whole thing, learning about the candidates and what they stand for. I was talking to my girls about it all (one of my lectures they call it) when one asked me ‘why I didn’t want to see a woman leader’?

Now don’t get me wrong I am a feminist and would love nothing more that to see a woman lead the party, but I have to believe in the politics of the woman.

Being a feminist does not mean that we should support any woman just because of her gender. It means women should have the same equality in standing. But for me if the said women in this case political views do not inspire me I cannot vote for them just because of their gender. In fact I would be doing them a disservice if I did. 

I’m a lefty and I believe that all people have the right to a quality of life. I am forward thinking but truly don’t believe we have to step on the poor and disabled to get on in life. 

I will fight for human rights with every ounce of my being. I don’t view life in a ‘what’s in it for me’ way. I view it as a collective being, humanity.

I get angry when I hear people hate on migrants and those on benefits. 

I am furious at tax breaks for the super rich and fuming about the damage privatisation is doing to our country.

I strongly believe disabled people should have the services needed to help them live a healthy and independent life. That no one should have to wait or refused treatment. 

To be honest I am truly frightened for the people of this country over the next five years. This is the reason why I am so interested in the Labour leadership debate. 

I cannot vote for either Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall because they are woman, I have to believe in them and to be honest I’m not sure I do. 

Having a women in leadership would be amazing but it has to be the right women. I mean do we really want another Maggie Thatcher, shall we all shout ‘poll tax’.

So my answer to my girls was “yes I would love to have a woman leader, but it has it be one I believe in”. So this time around it won’t be a woman getting my vote. My vote will be for Jeremy Corbyn because his history of fighting for equality, for fairness, transparency and justice holds true to the values I hold dear. People are already telling me it will be a wasted vote but I’m tired of politicians voting for party rather than conscience  so I’m certainly not going to do the same.

   

There has to be a line they don’t cross.

I’m on holiday right now trying hard to deal with memories that are haunting me whilst creating new ones to cherish and love.

Yet even here in the middle of nowhere I cannot avoid the arguments and discussions following the interview given by Samantha Cameron about the loss of her son Ivan.  

Part of me wants to be naive right now and believe that this a mother just opening her heart about the pain and devastation she has felt from the loss of her son.

I want to remember the shared look we exchanged as we acknowledged the loss of our children. How that brief moment in Downing Street span across economic backgrounds into empathy and shared understanding.

As a grieving mother I cannot imagine a mom using this loss as a campaign tactic.

Please no.

Yet as naive as I wish to be the Cameron’s  have already proven that all experiences, all struggles are open for exploitation.

We remember David Cameron telling us he understood  how hard it is to raise a disabled child. How he will be supporting families as they struggle. Only for him to walk back over all his promises in a dramatic fashion. With cuts to services and benefits that have dramatically left people struggling to survive. 

Cut in services

Bedroom tax 

Local government budgets being slashed leading to less respite, play schemes etc etc.

And so much more. 

Even now if leaked information is to be trusted if the conservatives stay in power there will be more cuts coming to those who are disabled and those caring for them.

To be truthful I am lost for words. 

The whole situation is making my stomach ache.

I want to believe that this story, that Samantha Cameron’s interview is not part of the campaign trail.

I want to honestly believe that she is not exploiting the hearts of those like myself who grieve desperately for their child.

In fact I have to believe this. 

To accept anything else would make me question humanity.

Would make me question everything.

Surely there has to be a line a political party won’t cross?

   

She who should not be named.

Over the last months one name has been showing up all over the media and social networks. Katie Hopkins, columnist, reality tv star and a general big mouth.

She has opinions on everything and anything and is quite happy to voice them especially if they cause controversy and upset. Or should that be especially if it will gain her more exposure.

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Well enough is enough, I think it is about time people stopped playing into her game and stop mentioning her name even when disagreeing with what she has to say.

Let’s be honest if this woman was to be paid per google search I’m sure she would now be a very wealthy woman.

Every time she speaks out she gets asks on to television to air her view even when too be honest she certainly doesn’t deserve air time.

She is rude and obnoxious and has no respect for those that don’t agree with her.

Now I believe everyone is entitled to their personal view. Yet when it is insulting and derogatory to others it’s certainly shouldn’t be given paid opportunities to be aired.

So I suggest we start our own campaign against this women. It’s doesn’t involve calling her names though she certainly doesn’t hold back in this. What it does though is to stop her gaining more coverage for own agendas.

So from now on Katie Hopkins you have joined the ranks of Voldemort.

You will now be known as “she who should not be named”.

Let’s stop using this woman’s name and giving her the coverage she so desires.

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Benefits Street broke my heart.

Last night I sat at watched the conversional program Benefits Street. Its been a weird one for me as part of me didn’t wish to watch it in protest of the appalling way channel 4 have used these people .Yet temptation and inquisitiveness won the battle and for the last four weeks I have followed the story of James Turner Street with millions across the country.

Over the last weeks I have felt so many emotions, I can’t work out if I’m cross with the nation or with the people. What I do know is that the television programme has been made in such a way that it has raised debate all over the country. It has been edited to raise negative attitudes towards the residents and benefit users in general.

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The media are  covering stories regarding benefit fraud as if it the worst crime in the country. That everyone claiming benefits is a thief or a scoundrel this is so very wrong and a terrible stereotype to create. Personally I think a closer look and more outrage should be turned towards the millions being lost through tax loopholes and uncollected tax. I think the image below speaks for itself.

tax-and-fraud

Anyway less about this and more about the people, those who really matter. I want to talk about last nights programme. As I sat  watching it I was in tears. James Clarke better known as Fungi is a man who is in serious need of help. The news have been full of his exploits the “big issue” con and so much more but all I saw was a very vulnerable man being used.

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Addiction is a cruel disease and while many will talk about it being a choice using drugs they forget the stories behind the people. We should never judge the choices they made.

All I wanted to do last was night was hug this man. When the cameras entered his home I was heartbroken. Animals live better than him. How wrong is this world?

I don’t know James Clarke and I never will but I do know that he needs help. The newspapers are reporting that he has moved out of James Turner Street and his friends are worried for him and so they should be. The article states that the production team are in contact with him and I really hope and pray that this is the truth and he is ok.

I saw a man in need of help.

Addiction is a disease that needs treatment. Suffers need support not condemnation. It destroys lives everyday.  I really hope Fungi is getting the help he needs and I encourage anyone who is suffering to seek help.

There are organisations out there for you, contact one of those, speak to your GP but please take that first step to recover.

Places of help.

Your GP.

Action on Addiction 

Addiction Helper