2012 London Olympics: Bad for business

The influx of tourists to the city for the 2012 London Olympic Games had caused excitement among businesses all over London, yet statistics show that during the Olympic period, UK retail sales fell and online sales plunged the most in five years.

Shoppers – both online and on the high street – were said to be distracted by the Olympic Games, causing an unanticipated drop in sales. Economists predict further falls in UK retail sales due to inflation and weak consumer confidence.

For more details, read the article on the Bloomberg website

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Benefit Busters: Blaming the poor…..again

Channel 4’s new show ‘Benefit Busters’ seems to be a PR gem for a government overseeing the biggest economic crisis in the past 30 years. Once again the numerous reasons why unemployment is soaring and more and more people are finding themselves in the ranks of the long-term unemployed is ignored in favour of the old-iddium- ‘people are lazy’. The concept is simple, an outside team come into the local job centre and teach all the unemployed the reason they have no job is their negative attitude.

It would be funny, if it wasn’t so mind-numbingly unoriginal and tragic.  That Channel 4 has managed to find a character that bares a striking  resemblance to ‘league of gentlemen restart officer Pauline’ in the form of Hayley, is a small triumph but the truth is that a this is a bad tabloid headline come to life and its harmful. ‘No jobs, rubbish! a pep talk from Hayley and suddenly your dreams come true, Poundland has an opening. In agony after a terrible accident, don’t worry if your benefits are cut and your on the breadline you will soon forget about your troubles’. Not only does it patronise those millions of people looking for work in an ever squeezed market, it attacks the weakest in society, the sick and disabled who have the least chance of finding employment.

This is best illustrated by the episode where Kieron, a young man on disability allowance, has his benefits cut after he was found to be ‘faking’ a serious back injury by one of the pep talk team. Now call me cynical but I always thought you needed extensive medical training and a few years working with patients before you could decide whether someone was ill or not, a bad neck tie and lipstick just doesn’t seem like enough.

With virtually no questions asked of A4E,  the private company involved in Benefit Busters or how much value for money we the tax payer are getting for this scheme, as opposed as to the old system, this is more like a  informercial for A4E than a documentary. Given that it is claimed A4E receive up-to £I94 per client per week and they have a limited amount of success, even in the program several clients failed to stay in work, more stringent questions should have been asked about the methods of this company.

Is it right that Emma Harrison, the companies founder, has become a millionaire through other peoples unemployment? If you make money from people being out of work can you be trusted to find them a job? Is Hayley the person to rummage through peoples deep-seated psychological problems?

I just wonder what Channel 4 will sink to next- ‘The poor and disabled, how  they bring it on themselves’.

For a further critique of Benefit Busters visit The Metro

To read criticism of Benefit Busters by a local charity visit  Fife Today

For further information on our Poverty and the Media Project and to view our workshops please visit our Project Page.

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Minimum cost of living rising twice the rate of inflation

In 2008 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published its first  ‘minimum standard for Britain’ surveying members of the public to find out what income they thought was needed to achieve a socially acceptable standard of living. This survey has now been updated taking into account the rising rate of unemployment and the economic crisis with some fascinating results.

  • A single adult with no children now needs to earn at least £13,900 a year before tax to reach the minimum standard. This is a £500 rise from 2008; nearly half of this extra income is needed for the rising cost of food.
  • About one in four people are living below the minimum income standard for Britain, and this is increasing as unemployment rises.
  • The minimum cost of living has risen by 5%, contrasting with official inflation figures of 2½% (CPI) and -1% (RPI). A low-paid worker whose earnings were linked to the retail prices index could be 6% worse off this year, relative to the minimum cost of living.
  • Job loss can leave you with less than half the income that you actually need to live according to the minimum income standard for Britain.

To download a full copy of this report please visit our Poverty and the Media Resources and Download Page

To watch clips of Spectacle’s Poverty and Media project please visit our Project Page

Alternatively you can also find footage of this project in our Archive

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