Benefits Britain 1949

benefits britain 1949
benefits britain 1949

Ever since the government announced their plans to reform the disability living allowance we have followed numerous stories concentrating on those who will be affected and the unsettling future those with disabilities now face.

The frustration and anger directed towards various MPs reflecting the benefit crisis is nothing new, ever since the payment came into force back in 1949 a percentage of disabled people have felt they have been unfairly treated by the lack of financial support they have been offered. 

A new series starting tonight ( 12 August) on Channel 4 takes us back to 1949, over the next three weeks episodes will feature individuals currently on benefits and force them to adhere by the rules which were set sixty-four years ago. 

In the first programme three volunteers document their experiences as they turn back the clock living on benefits entitled to the elderly, disabled and those on long-term sick. 

Taking inflation into account 71 year-old Melvyn discovers he is now left with just £33.48 for the next seven days which has to cover his bills, food and travel commitments. 

At first the pensioner believes he is coping well, although as the week goes on he gradually finds himself in debt leaving Melvyn no option other than to pawn his grandfather’s watch. 

Having found out the 1949 rules doesn’t entitle him to any benefits 24 year-old Craig, who copes with spina bifida, discovers the state’s alternative motive is to support him as he tries to seek employment. 

Craig is in a similar situation at the moment, although he currently receives benefits he has yet to be successful finding a job despite applying for numerous vacancies. Maybe the old system will turn out to be more productive? 

Finally there’s 54 year-old Karen, at present despite being on sickness benefit she has worked all her life and feels she is not being awarded as much as she should be under the coalition government. In tonight’s programme she finds out if the 1949 rules would have taken a more lenient approach to her situation. 

Benefits Britain 1949 is expected to be an interesting and educational insight to how people relying on benefits were treated by post-war welfare. It also begs the question due to the formidable changes in the benefits system are we moving forwards or backwards in regards to supporting vulnerable people?  

Benefits Britain 1949 is on Channel 4, August 12 at 9pm.