Ipswich: Town comes under the benefits spotlight

Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer visited Ipswich.

Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer visited Ipswich. - Credit: BBC/Silver River Productions Ltd/Alex Maguire

Ipswich came under the national spotlight on BBC1 prime time last night as Apprentice stars Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford visited the town to examine its attitude to those one unemployment benefits.

At the start of the programme “We All Pay Your Benefits” it was made clear that Ipswich was chosen because its unemployment rate and demographic balance mirrored that of the country as a whole.

Four people who rely on Jobseekers’ Allowance and other benefits were teamed up with four who work hard and feel irritated that their taxes go towards paying for those without work.

The unemployed included a single mother with a houseful of pets as well as her children, a single father who has worked only four weeks over the last 20 years, a family where the father was desperate for work – and a graduate who feels that he is over-qualified to work in shops.

During the show it was made clear that unemployment benefits make up only about 10% of the total social security bill – the largest element is pensions.

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However it did produce an insight into the struggles of those on benefit, and the frustrations of those who have to pay taxes to fund them.

What did you think of the programme? Leave your comments here.

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