Benefits claimants will travel back 60 years and experience the welfare state in its tough original form in a new three-part series fronted by Hilary Devey. They will live by the system’s initial strict rules, designed to instil values of independence and responsibility, and see how the experience changes and challenges their attitudes to work, unemployment and living off the state.
Today’s news is full of reports of families trapped into a life of dependency, some claimants exploiting the system, and others being denied help they desperately need. The recession has pushed this long-term problem to crisis point. By taking the participants back to 1949, when the system was just a year old, they will learn whether the original principles can point the way to a fair solution for the future.
Hilary will run her ‘dole office’ through a specially re-created 1949 styled benefits office. The claimants will come in to find out what benefits they would have received 60 years ago and Hilary will follow their journey as they live within their new entitlement. As the precise rules found in the 1949 manuals are rigorously applied, viewers will be able to follow the present-day consequences. Each episode will tackle a different area of the benefit system and will cover unemployment, childcare and housing as well as the sick, disabled and elderly.