Benefits Britain show slammed for painting ‘unnecessarily’ bad picture of Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, fire minister. Picture: James Bass. Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, fire minister. Picture: James Bass.

Lucy Clapham lucy.clapham@archant.co.uk
Friday, June 20, 2014
8:38 AM

A prime time TV show that put unemployed Great Yarmouth residents in the spotlight has been slammed for painting a bad picture of the town.

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And concerns have been raised that Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole, which aired this week, could have tarnished the town’s reputation just before the summer season gets into full swing.

The Channel 5 documentary focused on a handful of residents living in the borough and claiming benefit while looking for work.

The series claims to go “behind the headlines” following the government’s welfare reforms. But local viewers and MP Brandon Lewis have hit out at the programme makers, saying it was not a true reflection of Yarmouth or its residents.

Mr Lewis this week wrote to Alex Barraki, Channel 5 production manager, to respond to the show which he said presented the borough in an “unnecessarily negative light”.

His letter said: “Benefits Britain, while making sweeping statements about the local economy and jobs market, could inadvertently serve to damage the very companies that are offering paid work and putting money into the local economy, which I am sure was not the programme’s intention.

“Great Yarmouth is a fantastic place to visit, as well as to live and work.”

The show discussed Yarmouth’s seasonal job market but Mr Lewis said it “ignored” the fact that seasonal employment is improving dramatically, and a drive for holiday jobs had contributed to a drop in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits.

He also cited the borough’s growing renewable energy industry and the associated jobs it was creating.

Mr Lewis added: “While I accept it is important to highlight areas in which people struggle to find work in order to provide help and support, I hope that productions in the future will take a more balanced approach that is less likely to damage the economy and self-esteem of local communities. Especially great ones like Great Yarmouth.”

The show also sparked debate on social media after it aired.

A Channel 5 spokesman said the series set out to explore the “issues and challenges created by unemployment and debt nationwide” and the Yarmouth episode had “faithfully reported” the views of those involved.

They added: “The programme is an observational one which sought to show accurately the lives and feelings of various residents around the UK, including Great Yarmouth, who were struggling dealing with debt and obligations without income. The programme faithfully reported those views.

“It was no part of the remit to put Great Yarmouth in an adverse light.”

■ What do you think? Write, with full contact details, to Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

36 comments

  • One only has to take a brief walk around the town to see the truth. Sadly its a dump, charity shops thrive and shanky people everywhere. Yes thing may be looking up but in comparison to other similar areas GY is the absolute bottom of the barrel. If you feel strongly about your town stop whining and improve it blaming the last government or last whoever is futile. We are here now and the future is ours ALONE to shape together.

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    Paul Morley

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • Mike Castle you need to get out of your Ivory Tower take off your rose tinted glasses and come out into the real world. Yes I am a proud Troll who used to be proud of the place that used to be called GREAT Yarmouth.

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    loco

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • What a nasty man Castle is.

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    wes1975

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Being an ex teacher, career councillor and on the outer disaster board must be very lucrative for Castle. I know the type of car you drive and no one on normal money woulod be able to afford one.

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    "V"

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Now Mick Castle is showing his true nationality, “Cuckoo Land” Outer Harbour producing jobs Oh he must be confused with the Seals taking up residence on the south Side. The quicker Micky emigrates to Cameroons with the rest of the cuckoos will bring pleasure to every-one

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    John L Cooper

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • We will be integrating public transport modes, he said in 1997 and what followed was Tory party mark 2 wrecking the industry. Ten years later not one of these scurrillous and power addicted saddos has managed to organise a dedicated bus service between the rail station and airport. Then there was this promise of an extra and potentially fastest ferry service to the continent, but sadly the swell in the wrongly designed outer harbour and some funding issues put an end to that pipe dream. Container loading cranes, another issue in Labours failed to do book, and now this arrogance by some second rate Eintaenzer.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • There's a golden rule in politics which states, "Always attack the argument first. If you can't attack the argument attack the person. If you can't do either walk away." By my estimations a certain councillor on this page has been doing the second part for a while. I am hoping this really is the prelude to his taking a very long walk, a VERY long walk away...

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    ThePresence

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • There are some serious "saddos" amongst the internet trolls plaguing this site. Unemployment is half what it was last time the Tories were in charge unemployment - it was 6,000 plus under Thatcher. Without the deep water facility provided by the Outer Harbour the port would have lost much of its existing business and wouldn't be in the frame for the coming Energy jobs bonanza. People on £70k a year don't live in the terraced streets of Yarmouth - but the people living here don't deserve the abuse from ill-informed, slightly deranged and twisted internet trolls.

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    Mick Castle

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • There are some serious "saddos" amongst the internet trolls plaguing this site. Unemployment is half what it was last time the Tories were in charge unemployment was 6,000 plus. Without the deep water facility provided by the Outer Harbour the port would have lost much of its existing business and wouldn't be in the frame for the coming Energy jobs bonanza. People on £70k a year don't live in the terraced streets of Yarmouth - but the people living here don't deserve the abuse from ill-informed, slightly deranged and twisted internet trolls.

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    Mick Castle

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • BG you forgot those with split loyalties to big boys clubs in the list of Gt. Yarmouth ills. And the specialists in harbour design, and those who, failed to get Government support for a fast ferry service for Norfolk, not to speak of their never ending tales of 1000 jobs.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • 50.000 austerity marchers in Londonmd yesterday and the BBC who could find a single Scottish Uruguay supporter, failed to notice, such fun lets pay more license fee.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • Not allowed to comment on the possible loss of some street lights, to be replaced by the partial shining of councillors in their intrepid NCC mouthpiece 'Norfolk magazine'. Surely stopping students being attacked or raped is more important than a self congratulating magazine. And just to add to BG's little list, Gt. Yarmouth past and present administrations have suffered from being swamped by waves of freemasons trying their hands on the annual refurbishing task of freemasons hall.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • this is the town which the last labour government flooded with asylum seekers and this government carrying on with the same policy

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    milecross

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Mick Castle and his colleagues, many now ex, are the cause of the decline in Gt Yarmouth. Everyone knows what the problem is. Too many people, for one reason or another, living on benefits. Years ago casual workers used to have to return to their home towns to claim out of season. Then changes were made to the rules and they were allowed to stay on and claim. As a consequence certain roads in Yarmouth became exclusively DHSS residences. Then we had a veritable explosion of benefits and tax credits orchestrated by Gordon Brown as part of his grand plan to obliterate child poverty. All it did was to create a part time work force and encourage people, solely reliant on benefits, to have more and more children to increase their income. Young girls in the borough soon cottoned to the notion that having a child meant, according to Labour`s Frank Field, that they could have a child and thereby get an income in excess of the average wage without having to go to work. The council and private landlords have gone along with this by providing young people with housing which they don`t look after at all. So instead of being contained in a few streets in Yarmouth the problem is now wide spread throughout the Borough. Mick Castle has come up with the usual Labour defence of vilifying anyone who dares talk about it. Having lived in the Borough for 35 years I have seen its decline first hand and unless Mr Castle and his colleagues get a grip it is only going to get worse. We have got to stop so many people coming into the Borough with their myriad of problems and stop giving subsidised housing to single parent families on demand. We need wealth creators, not more and more people opting out of work and making a life choice to live off the welfare state instead. To see so many young women pushing their buggies around the streets and young men in tow, idling their time away should be discouraged not encouraged by our national and local politicians. They are all very good at saying they emphasise with everyone over this issue but no one does anything about it. It`s all kicked into the long grass hoping the problem will somehow go away. But it won`t.

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    BG

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Mick Castle I see we have "all the usual suspects" venting their hateful spleen." That is the same comment you post every time you disagree with something, even though those who comment are invariably different and not "the usual suspects"

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    theanchovy

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • I missed the programme by choice. I now avoid visits to Gt Yarmouth as it always seems full of local non workers, European non workers, some with dogs, all with expensive mobile phones. Someone should be asking why it is apparently easier to get benefits in Yarmouth than elsewhere! Someone needs to tighten the criteria,

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    Union Jack

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Didn't see the show - didn't need to - have holidayed there every year for 40 years - would love to live there! The moaners here are forgetting that since 1997, EVERY town has plummeted downhill - trust me, you don't realise how well off you are............

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    Clarkson for PM

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I see we have "all the usual suspects" venting their hateful spleen.

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    Mick Castle

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • The Channel 5 programme didn't do a lot for Yarmouth but nor do the utterances of internet trolls who seem to delight in talking down our town. I still believe in Yarmouth and its potential for jobs and prosperity based around Energy jobs and Tourism if we can update and improve the local offer. Brandon Lewis's Government has taken millions of pounds put of our local economy so he probably isn't the best person to ask about putting things right. The South Denes and Port areas are testimony to the good future that awaits - land is changing hands, new facilities being built - we need to help our unemployed youngsters to acquire the skills for those jobs in the Energy industry. We need to get that message over to our school children and their parents. Stop knocking our town.

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    Mick Castle

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Everyone loves to blame the immigrants for making this town what it is. They're forgetting that the majority of people in this town seem to think they're owed a living by the state and do nothing to help themselves. If you claim JSA, you only have to do ONE thing a fortnight on time and that's sign on. If you can't even do that, how would you cope in a job where you have to be on time every day? That's why people get sanctioned. It's not punishment for being unemployed, it's punishment for being knowingly stupid. Also, it's funny how you walk through this place at lunchtime and see so many 'poor' people all smoking, eating chips, drinking lager or smoking pot. Makes you want to scream at them: take some responsibility for your life and stop blaming everyone else.

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    Marc Rhodes

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • It does seem a bit odd that many people on benefits can afford so many dogs, tattoos and mobile phones, I can manage without these things, there have also been cases of people on benefits using food banks but arriving in expensive cars

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    blister

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Well done you EDP for correcting that naughty spelling mistake in the headline. Now then, I would like to see your parents, Mr and Mrs Archant to discuss your 'issues' when next available. Oh and while you're passing judgement on how terribly bad those underlings are in Yarmouth, do some homework on your own city school headline and the odd knife crime that now seems to be a recurrent issue in your 'fine city'. Yours SINcerely John smug Lewis.

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    One Horse Town

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I don`t know if anyone picked up on it, but the blonde teenage single mother with the 3 month old bab,y according to her list of outgoings was paying sixty pounds a month for her smart phone. Plus of course the food and vets fees for her the dog. Nice to know tax payers money is being well spent and she is prioritising her spending.

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    BG

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • A large number of people on benefits in Yarmouth are from Eastern Europe and because they have seen their benefits cut they end up having to rely on food banks etc. more government money should be spent on social services to help these people who often face a language barrier as well

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    blister

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • i cant see why this brandon did it in the first place he was with the camera crew when it was filmed he has only brought the feed back on him self idiot

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    John Chapman

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • So our wonderful MP reckon the programme painted a bad picture, if he had stepped out of hid Ivory tower a few years back and opened his eyes he would have seen what was happening to this once GREAT town and tried to have done something about it then not wait until the truth is televised. I am Yarmouth born and breed and used to be proud of this place but have seen it go downhill for a time now. I do say thank you who are trying to make improvements and bring more jobs to the area but it is also up to this government to make sure that those who do get benefits get them for the right reasons not because they are bone idol, can not be bothered to get out of bed and help themselves. Mr Lewis indtead of looking for praise from the actions of other people you need to go out and do something about it your self then maybe local people will show you respect and back you up.

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    loco

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I've never been inside the homes of the people shown, nor do I know them, but from my occasional visits to the town, the programme seems to ring true. Both the place and a lot of the people seem depressed and run-down, and although I look every time for signs of improvement, all I see is less. It doesn't help that the council seems to want to demolish everything old (e.g. Two Bears) and replace it with ersatz buildings. That's when they're not destroying things by neglect.

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    T Doff

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • hahaha - dont have spell check - makes my original point worthless! Couldn't write it could you. Unless you work for Archant of course.....

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    MonkeyNuts

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Headline says it all......"‘unnescessarily’ - do these new pc's dont have spell check?

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    MonkeyNuts

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Oh well, my first post did not appear, but the truth is that this formerly vibrant town is really suffering and nothing could exaggerate its plight. And to blame the residents is harsh. Thatcher let the jobs for the unskilled go abroad,Labour compounded all the problems and an open door policy has been the last straw. We all read about how poor white children do badly in school-well underfunding in places like Yarmouth is the reason. The place is bleak, it has its home grown residents with low expectations and has been filled up with those who do not exactly cheer things up. It is no wonder that there is a subculture peculiar to the area , one which would have seemed utterly alien in the days of BirdsEye and North sea exploration. Only a lot of jobs for the unskilled will cure it.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Love how the EDP editorial have tried to be empathetic and 'down there on the streets' by misspelling the word 'unnecessarily 'in the headline.............oh it was just an illiterate reporter then?'

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    One Horse Town

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I did not see the programme but it would have had to be really bad to have exaggerated the problem. There were always the poor and unskilled in GY but they were mopped up by Birds Eye and the clothing factories etc. Now we have the whole country's dysfunctional and unskilled moving in and soon the whole world's by the look of things and few jobs for those who will never be capable of learning a trade. There are few jobs for those who do have skills and qualifications so there is an exodus of the qualified. When children are parented by the not bright they need things to be good all around them so they can aspire to something better. In GY town this no longer happens The bright and employed move out and the poor are trapped so that the borough is split- those who have jobs and live in the villages and suburbs and those who dont and live in social or rented housing. GYBC could have stopped some of this, they could have gated more of the " inner town" streets and made them more desirable to those who commute to work in Norwich or who have fled to the suburbs, and kept them out of the hands of landlords of HMOs. But on the whole GY, not so long ago a thriving town, is a victim of geography, the messed up economy, surplus housing from a decayed tourist industry, refugee relocation agencies and immigration. And our poor white children have been failed for decades by the inequalities of distribution of central government funding to local councils ( Barnett formula) .The town's grotty old schools with no playing fields are proof.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • norman hall

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • The show did not do Great Yarmouth any favours, but as anyone who has lived and walked round teh town will say, it was also quite accurate as to the portrayel of the town at the moment. Away from the sea front, it is very run down with a lot of semi undesirables living and wandering about. We never go out in some areas alone any more due to teh threatening atmosphere. As for the people in the show, they were all very "deprived", but they all had contract phones, dogs, young children, tattoos etc. None of which are cheap and none of which should be possible on benefits. And i agree totally with the fould mouthed son, building a large Primark will not save Great Yarmouth.

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    DaveG

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • And the politicial establishment still live in denyal of the problems. The truth hurts doesnt it Lewis. Perhaps you should pay a visit sometime,(if you know where we are) without your usual local Tory hangers on and have a look for yourself.

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    "V"

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • The truth hurts. Its as simple as that.With over 18 out of every 100 teenage girls a single mother in the borough the situation is only going to get worse. It is a perpetuating problem. Young unemployed men get their teenage girl friends pregnant. The council gives them a flat and they live off the proceeds of the welfare system. Along comes baby number number 2 3 or even 4 resulting in a demand for a larger property and even greater welfare payments. For many it has become a better option than finding a job. Add in the problems of immigration, drugs, alcohol, parents with little or no education, low social skills is it little wonder the town is going down hill fast. Which is why the Acle Straight is a car park in the morning with a similar flow of vehicles in the opposite direction at tea time. People work here but they don`t want to live here.

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    BG

    Friday, June 20, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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