Benefits: Not Every Claimant is a Jeremy Kyle Pantomime Villain

Jobseekers allowance, Universal Credit, ‘The Dole – money off the government given to those out of work to help them survive. Some of those on benefits claim because they find themselves unemployed and need to pay the rent and put food on the table. Others get money for extended periods because certain circumstances leave them unable to look for, or enter into, work.

Being on benefits is no lifestyle choice and for many, living off of them is a struggle.

In October I found myself out of work, having left a role I entered fresh out of university. Now every day I find myself settled down in my front room searching for work. During this time I have the TV on and have recently found myself hooked on The Jeremy Kyle Show. The dysfunction of these individuals provides a welcome distraction from the constant job hunt and screen glare.

This is where my quam comes in. Having watched many an episode of Jeremy Kyle over the past few months, I have noticed how Jeremy has no problem asking someone “why don’t you get a job?” as soon as he reveals they are on benefits.  Whenever it turns out that an individual is out of work, this circumstance is almost used against them .The audible gasps, boos and general rumbles of discontent show exactly how someone claiming money from the government is treated like a pantomime villain in the wider society.

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Just two pay packets can make the difference between having a roof over your head and homelessness.

Being on benefits is about survival and it isn’t as easy or simple as ‘just getting a job’ – my own job hunt proves it. If I could wake up one day and just walk into a job, I would.

Consider the number of people with mental health conditions given a benefits sanction for one reason or another. Or the 2380 individuals who died between 2011 and 2014 after they were declared ‘fit for work.’

Many people are just two pay packets away from being on the streets.

Ignore what you see in the media. Just because there are well-publicised cases of a few living the high life when claiming government benefits, it doesn’t mean that every claimant is.

Times are tough, especially around this time of year when money is spent on the latest exorbitant gadget or gift. Gone are the days of giving someone a stocking with a satsuma – personally I hate satsumas and can’t think of anything worse than being gifted one, in a single sock no less.

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I’m a bit too tall to be The Hamburglar anyway.

The amount given to claimants by the government is not that much, especially once outgoings are taken into consideration. Sometimes there is not enough money to cover the bills or put food in the cupboards, which has led to an increase in the number of people using foodbanks.

Benefit claimants are often painted as lazy scroungers or deviants out to cheat the system. Imagine the pantomime-esque character, The Hamburglar. Ronald McDonald’s best friend who creeps around looking for his next steal. That’s how those looking for government help are portrayed. I for one am not donning vertical monochrome stripes looking to steal all the hamburgers in McDonaldland.

Life is hard enough without being painted as a bad person just for trying to survive. You never know when unemployment could strike. So if you are sat on your high horse looking down on those out of work; just remember that it could happen to you at any time. Finding a job when you are out of work is not as easy as Jeremy Kyle would have you believe.

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