The Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street caused a stir in Britain after it revealed that entire streets of the United Kingdom were occupied by British citizens who lived off welfare. Many have not worked in over a decade.
Yet this ostensibly controversial insight into Britain’s benefit “scrounger” culture may not even be the tip of the iceberg, if a new investigation by the Daily Express is to be believed.
In some areas of Britain, including most notably Blackburn, Liverpool, Middlesborough, and Thanet in Kent, up to 70 percent of people are unemployed, many of whom are in receipt of job-seeker’s allowances from the government. More than half of residents in a neighbourhood called Wrangling, in Blackburn, are on “incapacity” benefits, meaning they either qualify as disabled or unfit to work.
The Benefits Street documentary highlighted how some people on welfare in the UK forge or fake their inability to work in order to stay at home and receive taxpayer money in place of a salary.
However, local Member of Parliament and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has sought to play down the concerns raised by the Express.
Straw, who has been the Labour MP in the area since 1979, said, “The area is dominated by hostels of various kinds, and the people there are those who often have a lot of social and other serious problems.”
The senior Labour figure also appeared to endorse what the Conservative Party has been claiming in recent months about the strength of the British economy and falling unemployment levels. He remarked: “So it’s unsurprising that you have a high level of welfare dependency in that area, but it is untypical of the town, and overall the numbers of people who are in employment is going up, while the proportion of people on benefits is actually coming down.”