Socialist Worker

'Benefits Street' residents speak out - 'TV firm is making us into scapegoats'

by Alistair Wingate
Issue No. 2385

Angry residents in Birmingham’s James Turner Street spoke to Socialist Worker about a new TV show about their lives being broadcast on Channel Four.  

The programme, Benefits Street, began on Monday of this week.

Dean Oakes has lived on the street for 20 years. 

He told Socialist Worker, “The television company said it would be called The Community Spirit of James Turner Street and look at our close knit community.

“Now it’s called Benefits Street and it gives an untrue picture of us.” 

The programme’s publicity states that James Turner is “one of Britain’s most benefit-dependent streets”. Yet Dean said, “I know everyone on the street and most people work.”

Residents have spoken out against their homes being portrayed as “slums”. 

Dean said he thought the TV company had “taken advantage of some individuals to give a negative view”.

“We don’t see rich people being slagged off like this,” he said. “They just get away with everything.”

Fellow James Turner resident David Jay told Socialist Worker that the programme was “making us into scapegoats”. 

But as Dean said, “James Turner Street is really no different to any other street in Birmingham.”

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Article information

Tue 7 Jan 2014, 16:54 GMT
Issue No. 2385
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