The Daily Mail has reported that there is going to be a second series of Benefit’s Street, this time it is going to be filmed in Kingston Road, Stockton-on-Tees, Durham. And, as to be expected, the line-up consists of the unemployed, drug dealers and addicts and pure benefit scroungers.
Amongst the cast is Neil, an out-of-work drug dealer who claims £700 a month in benefits. He is shown to be bagging up cannabis, smoking the drug and taking pills before his court appearance. Neil is 35 years-old and claims he has taken ‘early retirement’ from a life of crime after a string of convictions. He also states that he claims benefits because he suffers from memory loss… I would just like to know how he manages to claim benefits when he is basically causing his memory loss himself by smoking cannabis and taking other drugs. I mean it isn’t as if he has a medical condition that causes his memory loss, it is purely self-inflicted.
The programme also shows Neil spending his benefits on topping up his tan at a local sun-bed salon and also him being sent back to prison later in the series.
Another resident of the show is 48 year-old, grandmother of six, Dot, who has given up trying to get a job after being unemployed for 20 years. She has reportedly hired the same agent as White Dee in the hope of finding fame and fortune. She stated; “I wouldn’t mind being the next White Dee”… We have one already love and trust me one is enough.
Sue, a 50 year-old unemployed mother of five, will also be featured on the show. She has lived on Kingston Road for over 30 years. She had to stop working in 2014 due to suffering a breakdown which left her with depression, anxiety and mild agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in a situation where escape might be difficult, or help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong. A person with agoraphobia may be scared of open spaces, travelling on public transport, visiting a supermarket and leaving the safety of their home.
Sue states that there is no shame in relying on the welfare system claiming “just because you’re on benefits, it doesn’t make you a worse person.”. I have to say I agree that in some cases, such as redundancy or genuine illnesses which render people unable to work, should be able to rely ons the benefit system, however, I do not agree with the people who feign illness and have numerous amounts of children just so they don’t have to get a job. It makes a mockery of the genuine claimants that do need the assistance of benefits.
Life on ‘the street’ often resolves around Sue’s front garden, where everyone meets to drink tea and put the world to rights, as well as to share problems and gossip… If they only put as much effort into looking for employment.
Lee, 32, is another resident of the street, who is filmed showing the programmes makers around his home, pointing out the items that are, as he states, “f**ked”. He has been on Jobseekers Allowance for a year after being made redundant by a construction company and has his £45 a week benefits temporarily suspended during the series.
His mother, Chrissy, lives nearby and is the unofficial ‘Bard of Benefit’s Street’ writing and performing her own poetry, commenting on the various ups and downs of life on Kingston Road.
The Daily Mail also published stats on the residents in Stockton-on-Tees which showed that showed the following figures:
1) Unemployed: 4,300- 9.8% of the population
2) No qualifications: 5,900- 11% of the population
3) Average wage: £471 gross per week
4) Benefit claimants: 12,360- 21% of the population
5) Job seekers: 3,390-1,060 over 1 year
Also published were the stats of the residents living in Birmingham, where the first series of Benefit’s Street was filmed. The following figures were shown in comparison:
1) Unemployed: 7,400- 18% of the population
2) No qualifications: 16,800- 22% of the population
3) Average wage: £439 gross per week
4) Benefit claimants: 19,690- 21% of the population
5) Job seekers: 7,590-2,855 over 1 year
It wasn’t stated when the new series will be aired.