Sunday, 5 June 2011

Watch it if you must

A new series of The Fairy Jobmother begins on Channel 4 on Tuesday 7 June. I won't be watching. I wouldn't waste a minute of my life on it. If you do, dear reader, do post your thoughts.
It's worth remembering how this particular piece of what's been termed "poverty porn" came about. Channel 4 screened Benefit Busters, three programmes which took a serious look at the issues surrounding the welfare-to-work industry. The first two were filmed in A4e offices. Who now remembers the scenes in Hull, of clients being insulted and given nothing useful to do, of the man who got a job only to have it come to an end after a week? No, it was the first programme, which saw Hayley Taylor haranguing single mothers in Doncaster, which impressed producers. Ms Taylor was a character. And so she became a star, leaving A4e for a whole new career, here and in the US.
So will she fix up more hopeless cases with jobs which they certainly wouldn't have got if the cameras weren't there? Will you be shown idle, feckless people as if they were typical of the unemployed? Probably.

The BBC Panorama programme tonight (Monday 6 June) ought to be more informative: "With the government promising a welfare revolution, getting people off benefits and into work, Panorama visits the seaside resort of Rhyl in North Wales. In some parts of the town, nearly half of the adult population are on benefits. The programme follows the real life stories of some of the unemployed there, and asks the government whether this battle can really be won." But will there be any mention of the New Deal and FND providers who have dealt with these people in the past? Probably not.


  1. I had hoped we'seen the last of Hayley when I read the good news on your site that Hayley was off to the USA.

    Please America, take Hayley back. We poor downtrodden British jobseekers can't stand being patronized by this woman again in yet another TV series which reduces unemployment to, as the administrator of this sites puts it, "poverty porn" - which sums it up perfectly!

  2. Hayley's whole approach shifts blame onto unemployed who can't get work because of insufficient numbers of jobs, Wild Capital and Wild Liquid Capitalism that creates and sheds jobs at a drop of a hat, and certain groups that defy the Young Professional stereotype, namely over 50's, Disabled, Learning Disabled, Drug Addicts, Alcoholics, all the people Big Business DON'T want in their Firms.
    I will only watch it to spot the biases and the holes and misrepresentation of the unemployed and research how we fight back.

  3. I doubt whether I will watch Panorama. It clashes with Coronation Street!

    Spare rooms on benefits 'must go' link on the right.

    (There was also an article online a couple of days ago that if your income soars to the dizzy heights of £100000 pa and you live in a council property then you forfeit your home or pay the going rate.)

    It is so appalling that the Government does not care a toss about the emotional and practical upheavel they cause the vulnerable.

    Will they stop at just the spare room or will you be eventually confined to one room containing loo and kitchen facilities. Wait not even a room!

  4. Would the easiest way to identify those on benefits with a "spare room" not be through the um... Census data? Maybe the "tin-foil hatters" were right after all.

  5. I watched Panorama on iplayer. Very positive participants but at the end of their training/work placements they were back on the dole .....

  6. Let me guess, C4 will provide Taylor with some easy targets.
    She will patronise the crap out of them before they are placed onto a work scheme for Poundland which, unbeknownst to the viewer, will be temporary or unpaid or whatever.
    She will resort to soft bullying ('don't you think you should contribute/pay your way?' etc)
    The narrator will put forward equally disingenuous statistics.
    The candidate will utlimately succeed (see abov) despite a wobble half way through the show, as per the usual narrative.
    Taylor's idea of confidence building will be two dimensional pop psyhcology bollocks that will of course work because the subject, as in stage hypnotism, will subconcsiously feel compelled to comply and agree on camera with her ideas and judgements.


  7. Ah, Ms Taylor again. I won't be watching her either. Her painting by numbers approach may impress Daily mail, Sun, Daily Express and Daily Star readers, but will not fool those of us who know better!

    A sobering andtidote to "Ms Taylors quick fix as long as the cameras are rolling" approach is BBC 1's Poor Kids at 10.35 which focusses on 3.5m kids living in poverty in Britain today. Saw a snippet of it on BBC Look North. It shows one young girl in Bradford saying that she thinks she'll always be poor! Pretty depressing.

    I'm all for inspiration and having some "get up and go". However, considering Ms Taylor's background, I'm not sure she's the right person and indeed I think the whole premise of the program is off kilter. It would be far better if Ch4 did not treat the unemployed as 2D cartoon chracters. Progs such as The Fairy Jobmother and the BBC's Saints and Scroungers simply reenforce long held prjudices and stereotypes.

  8. Reading some of the comments here makes me chuckle!

    The portrayal of the unemployed is in the main, wholly accurate. The vast majority of people in a situation of unemployment appear to feel that it is a right to "pick and choose" a job whilst claiming a benefit which the whole of society is paying through the tax system.

    Dont tell me this attitude doesnt exist, I deliver group training to jobseekers en-mass and the general consensus is "Why bother working to only be slightly better off each week?" If the general population said this there would be no benefit system due to lack of tax revenue!

    By all means if you dont want to work, dont work, just do me a favour and dont claim too. I get the impression we have a host of jobseekers waiting to cherry pick the job of dreams as opposed to looking at realistic jobs. Lets face it surely any job is better than getting your money through a form of national charity (pride alone suggests this)?

    In a alot of ways you are correct the whole welfare system is shot to bits. Better if only sick/injured qualified for benefit, elimination of jobseekers allowance would ensure you would always be better off in work!

  9. Chuckle away, Anonymous. But if you "deliver group training to jobseekers en-mass" I suggest you become a little better informed.

  10. Elimination of jobs in the welfare-to-work industry would also go a long way to improving the lives of the people of this country through the creation of good quality jobs bringing better pay and conditions. The TUC has recently published an interesting pamphlet on this topic:

  11. To the first Anon, if different. Let's turn your basic 'argument' on its head. You're basically saying that people should be prepared to take ANY job, yes? Well then, should employers be prepared to take ANYONE on? If not, why not?

    If ANY job is better than JSA, then presumably you'd send a man who is terrified of heights to apply for a commercial window cleaning vacancy or a woman scared of insects, mice and rats to work for Rentokil? Both would be totally unsuited for the posts.

    You'd also be happy for people to apply for a vacancy that appeared a couple of years ago for a sex worker to perform in front of a webcam on a self employed basis. Would YOU apply for this position? Would you be happy to let your wife, daughter, niece or granddaughter to do this work?

    You'd also be happy to let people apply for dodgy marketing vacancies or companies involved in knocking on doors asking usually poor people if they've had an injury in the past 3 years. Both these examples are commission only. People earn very little if anything as a result. I know as I have applied for such positions myself and actually did the former.


    Then there are the suspect work from home scams dressed up as genuine employment opps. Such as one I enquired about which was actually a FRANCHISE opportunity dressed up as a VACANCY. The company was advertising for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) agents. However, they wanted you as a jobseeker to invest £2500 in this scheme / scam!!! How many jobseekers do you know with a spare £2500 Anon? Or how about eBay scam opportunities, again advertised in Jobcentres?


    And let's not talk about the non-existent jobs placed in the Jobcentre by employment agencies. You know the ones. You enquire about the vacancy only to be told it's been filled / taken. 2 or 3 weeks later, the VERY SAME vacancy is advertised. Another phone call and you're told it was a mistake and should have been removed.

    If Anon wishes benefits to be removed then fine. I hope that he / she is happy to pay a lot more for the increased crime rates. I also trust that he / she will be happy to invest in a baseball bat, a big dog, heavy duty locks, alarm systems and self defence training. I'm mostly serious. Many like Anon talk tough which is very easy to do. However, they fail to see the social implications and effects of what their policies would bring upon society.

  12. Half an hour in and that appalling creature - a mixture of Shirley Ghostman and Pauline's Pens from LoG - has done what? Read from the gospel according to Richard Desmond? THis is unbelievable.

  13. Its the banality of the whole affair. Who would want to work if Hayley Taylor is an example of what working does to people?

    You can treat human beings like machines, who exist soley to earn money. Seems to me like a form of fascism which is never questioned. We wouldnt force religion, politics, a football team on someone.

    But work! ah! never ever question that! You must earn capital. If not you are in error, and must either die, or feel terrible for your entire life.

    What have we become?

  14. Well if there was no JSA and subsequent training schemes through providers then Anonymous 1 would be out of a job himself/herself. I assume he/she is working for a Work Programme provider.

    And again do not forget a large number of the unemployed have worked and paid their National Insurance contributions and so are entitled to state support.

    Good post Anonymous 2.

  15. "The vast majority of people in a situation of unemployment appear to feel that it is a right to "pick and choose" a job whilst claiming a benefit which the whole of society is paying through the tax system."

    I think you'll find that people want a decent job so as to build a career and a life for themselves. Not to be blown around like leaves thanks to the winds of economic fate beyond their control. Why should people have their lives dictated by the capitalist scum that break the rules and break the system.

    And everyone in society doesn't contribute: the tax spongers, i mean evaders and avoiders, don't.

    "I deliver group training to jobseekers en-mass and the general consensus is "Why bother working to only be slightly better off each week?" "

    And that is lost on you, yes?

    Oh dear.

    "If the general population said this there would be no benefit system due to lack of tax revenue!"

    But it's alright that the rich do though, yes?

    "By all means if you dont want to work, dont work, just do me a favour and dont claim too. "

    Why? Because it offends your sensibilities? If you don't like the welfare state by all means move to america, perfect society that it is.

    Who are you to tell other people what to do?

    "I get the impression we have a host of jobseekers waiting to cherry pick the job of dreams as opposed to looking at realistic jobs."

    There are no realistic jobs, There are only the jobs that the ruling elite deign to give us. There are only the jobs that the broken capitalist system deigns to give us.

    If you don't want people to have choice, then here's my suggestion: close the universities, drop a levels and higher education, close the libraries and places of knowledge, art and culture. Just give the education contract to Tescos and let them teach GCSE Shelf Stacking.

    Why bother with any of these things if people are going to be given no opportunities in life other than the menial crap that society looks down it's nose on and subsequently pays a shit wage.

    "Lets face it surely any job is better than getting your money through a form of national charity (pride alone suggests this)?"

    Pride means nothing. Self worth comes from within, from knowing yourself. Not from the dictates of transient social mechanisms.

  16. Well, did anyone else watch Poor Kids on BBC1? If so what did you think?

    I watched it and had two overriding feelings. Firstly, it was depressing. The poor conditions those kids and their parents live in is shocking. Even more depressing was the comments the kids’ made themselves. There was no aspiration. All ambition and hope seemed to be knocked out of them at an early age.

    However, the second emotion I came away with was hope. I am an optimist at heart. The kids although living in trying conditions were smart and articulate. They were smart enough to know what they were up against. The two lads speaking about the economy talked more sense in two minutes than Cameron, Clegg or Osborne have done in a year!

    Govt ministers and indeed ALL MP's should watch this program and digest its findings.

    Of course, people will ask how one of the families concerned can afford a dog. Never having owned a pet, I can't really answer that one.

    And of course there will be the question of "why have kids you can't afford". Bear in mind one of the families shown was headed by a father whose wife walked out on him and his children. You have to deal with the here and now. These children cannot be unborn.

    Some will turn down certain low paid jobs and watching this program one can see why. Many jobs are a fair distance away. Cars are expensive to run. Bus fares keep going up. One also has to look at childcare costs. These will all take a big chunk out of a min wage salary leaving a person worse off financially than if they stayed on benefits. Yes, pride is important. However, it does not pt food on the table and clothes on your children's backs.

    Others will say this program was sensationalist and painted an unrepresentative image. If so, then was it any worse than the Fairy Jobmother doing the same with the unemployed?

    Before the govt can make work pay, it has to tackle the issue of a shortage of SUSTAINABLE and VIABLE employment as well as rising living costs. For example Scottish Power's gas prices have just risen by 19%. Other energy companies are expected to follow suit. When was the last time YOUR wages went up by 19%???

  17. The lad who wanted the job in the independent game store (there's a secure enough place to work!) was asked a bizarre question about ps3's. I must admit I didn't catch it all; something about 'what type of ps3 would you recommend'. Er, there's only one type of ps3! Also with regard to console bundles, those are down to the shop so unless they informed him he wouldn't know what deals the shop offers.
    Cut to the lady candidate and she'as asked a warm fluffy question about everyone's favourite nanny, the DS (something i bet the bloke knows about as well). She doesn't answer the question and instead says 'i've got a pink one', the interviewer chuckles and later she gets the job.

    Hmmmn. Would it have been the same if she'd been asked about ps3's or does the interviewer expect her to never have to sell them or deal with ps3 owners?

    Highly suspect. Staged and fixed.

    And the show has nothing to do with unemployment at all.


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