Socialist Worker

Benefit Busters

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2165

“Why aren’t you all queuing up outside McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC if you all want a job so badly?”

These are the words of Hayley Taylor, a trainer for “private welfare company” A4e, to a group of lone parents at a compulsory back-to-work course in Doncaster.

This uncritical documentary is a glimpse into the government’s “radical idea” to bring in the private sector to be “tough on the workshy”.

“If you want something, you have to work for it,” Taylor tells the women in her class, speaking slowly and carefully. “It cannot be your right for it to be given to you.”

Her constant hectoring leaves many in tears as they are systematically made to feel guilty for taking “handouts”.

Some of the women leave the course in disgust at such emotional bullying.

But five are still there for the show’s “happy ending”.

A new employer comes to town – Poundland – and gives everyone in the class an unpaid “work trial”.

“It’s all culminated in this,” Taylor tells them. “Now you have a future.”

In fact the low wages mean that some are even worse off than they were on benefits.

As the show ends, Taylor is invited to tea at the 20-bedroom, £5 million mansion owned by A4e chair Emma Harrison.

Taylor is asked if she thinks it is right that Harrison is making £100 a week out of each unemployed person on the course.

“At the end of the day,” she replies, “a successful businessperson finds a market and exploits it.”

Thursday 20 August, 9pm, Channel 4


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Tue 18 Aug 2009, 17:47 BST
Issue No. 2165
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