Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford investigate benefits system: We found no scroungers and no-one living comfortably

Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford investigate benefits system: We found no scroungers and no-one living comfortably

Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford investigate benefits system: We found no scroungers and no-one living comfortably

As Lord Alan Sugar’s original eyes and ears, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford made a formidable team.

Amid chaos created by the wannabe Apprentices, they were forever on hand to tell it like it really was.

Now the pair have been reunited for a TV series in which they examine Britain’s complicated benefits system.

Former PR man Nick and ex-City solicitor Margaret set out to explode the myth that benefit claimants are all cheating, lazy scroungers trying to exploit the system, by putting together four claimants and four taxpayers to examine each other’s lives.

Margaret,61, says: “The image we get from some of the media is rather distorted – that everyone on benefits has 27 children and lives in a mansion.

“Actually, very few people defraud the system and most struggle to make ends meet.

"I wasn’t aware how much money you needed in order to have a very basic – and fairly grim actually – lifestyle.

“I wasn’t aware how few jobs there are compared to the number of people who are unemployed.”

Both agreed the benefits system is over-complicated – but there is a very real need to support people.

Nick, 69, explains: “The pendulum has swung.

"Not that long ago, people were far more sympathetic and compassionate towards benefits claimants. Not any more.

“When everybody’s a bit hard up, suddenly the claimants swing into clearer focus labelled as ‘B******s, living on the state’.”

Benefits claimants take about 10% of the national £200billion welfare budget, with about 50 per cent going on pensions – which many people believe should not even be included in the figures.

Read more here

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13 Replies

  • Is that a new episode because it was on last year

  • Hi yes itv are doing new one

  • the link shows including pensions for pensioners who have worked and paid into the system,, plus others what have worked from the age of 15,, thats why we work to pay taxes and n, i, .. when we become ill and disabled, note the mps are keeping there 10 per cent pay rises, were as public sector are on a one per cent pay rise, books need balancing a bit better and the real truth told of were exactly the money goes, not all thrown in together ,, to confuse or perhaps gain sympathy , therefore label people who are ill and disabled scroungers to which there not,, thank you for the post.

  • Defo agree more thrower investigation by itv and nicely put ItsBAme ;)

  • I had to sell my house and live on £25K less a year to even think about surviving. I did not want to be ill or end up with multi conditions that at times leave me housebound. I had 40 people working on various projects at my peak, when I had my own business all paying taxes and NI. When people tag me as a scrounger due to illness it is so sad. But we are an easy target and a good way of fluffing over some of the real issues out there.

    MP's voted on a pay rise that would pay over 18 months of my benefit. Their yearly wage is what they expect me to live on for the next 16+ years?

  • Defo agree with you there offcuts everyone on here as had to make life style choices when it comes to there conditions and most are not easy to live with.

    As shitty as my jobs was I would prefer to be out there than waiting to die but life as we know ant like that so we try hold on to what life and dignity we have left

  • Yes and if MP's concentrated on getting the correct taxes from big companies and rich individuals we would not need austerity cuts. The figures I heard are roughly 120 billion pounds a year are lost from this.

    It is nothing to do with money though - it is idealogical warfare on the poor and sick and the concentration is on setting the workers against those who cannot work etc. It is an old political trick to try and divide groups coz if we all united against the social mores there would be plenty of money for those who need it. .x

  • Agree with you there I have read lot about pensions and soaring bill's BUT I have not read much about those business that have raided people's pension pots and left em on welfare yet alone government locking up those that carried out such practices

    Guess it's workers fault could not be gov or business

  • I was reading in the paper yesterday too that around 20 billions pounds worth of benefits are not taken each year up even when people are entitled to them.

    The reasons given were that people were reluctant to be labelled 'scroungers' or they didn't know about them as the system is very complicated (deliberately?) x

  • You not wrong there is all part of demeaning process

    Yosser Hughes from boys from the black stuff use to have great way of un-complicating things

  • When I lost my business in the wake of the banks losing out on third world debt problem they caused in the 90's. I saw a brilliant person at the Dole office that explained everything which helped me no end as I did not have a clue. However after a short term contract ended. I had to sign back on and the person at that time told me I would not get anything? But I came back with what I knew I should get and as if by magic all the forms came out! What would of happened if I had seen that one first?

  • Good post Daz and very true. To be honest, I have often said to Pete that all the form filling in would be enough to put anyone off claiming unless they really needed to. Nice to see the MP's are well cared for though!

    I have also read yesterday that the cap for elderly people going into care has been sidelined so another promise broken Mr. Cameron - didn't take long. xx

  • This article was in July 2013. do you know when the new one is being broadcast?

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