They utterly failed to cover the Welfare Reform Bill, the campaigns against it, the protests, the marches and some pretty explosive select committee hearings. Their flagship current affairs programme on the matter was a disgrace and the subject of a complaint I'm pursuing to the utmost conclusion and beyond; it failed to inform, it actively misled the audience and rather than challenge preconceptions it largely just reinforced what is already the widespread public consensus on social security. That consensus is one built up over almost fifteen years of non-stop misinformation which as far as I've been able to investigate it, was started by the BBC.
More recently, the corporation had an article published on their website continuing the cheer-leading of ignorance on the subject by comparing a non-working family on benefits with another non-working family on benefits. That article has now been updated and features a working family on benefits to compare them with.
But were they comparing like with like? Well this working family came from one of the comments below the original article, a particularly judgmental(and therefore highly rated) comment which included the following pearl of wisdom:
"I had sympathy for this family until I read in detail what they spend their money on. I believe that a cutback on booze and tobacco products is a must. Then unsubscribe to Sky... you should be thankful for what you get and adjust your lifestyle accordingly."
|The income and expenditure of Raymond's household|
|The income and expenditure of Ade's household|
The BBC gives Mr Ade the final, frame-establishing word:
Then concludes with something so unbelievably stereotypical I've almost decided it's a crock- he says he used to work for the 'Benefits Agency' and of course he left because of a client. But this is the crux of it: his family are not comparable with Raymond's. His children don't go to school, he does not rent and if the BBC summary of their expenditure is to be believed, they don't drink water or wash because water rates that are included in Raymond's budget are not in Ade's."We are reaping benefits of a good society and I see no problem with that," he says.
"Benefits are a good thing, and if society can afford it, they should be paid.""But benefits should encourage people to work - they should not be something in place of work."
What matters is that Ade appears to have none of Raymond's problems. If Ade were to suddenly lose his job, his position would be much better than Raymond's no matter what Raymond were to do. Ade would have his household benefits expand enormously; he'd have to stop paying his mortgage but Housing Benefit would pay the interest, he'd lose his salary but get JSA and his wife could then claim Income Support both at enhanced rates because DLA and Carers Allowance(again, the sum of both are given away whilst Ade is in work). In such circumstances and because the household receives DLA(which Ade gives away to his church), they will be exempt from the cap. There's an illusion there that seems to grip certain people like Ade: that if they lost their jobs, they'd be better off because benefits are so generous, so this must apply to everyone. For Raymond, in or out of work is irrelevant: his responsibilities make both those options terrible.
My own comment sits somewhere among the others, having a go at the BBC for their original comparison(the other non-working family being used as a comparison is no longer there). It only appears to have been superficially taken on board. They continue to utterly fail to grasp and then communicate to the public what is wrong with welfare in Britain.