Benefit Busters C4: Catch up on episodes 1 and 2 on 4oD

Update: Information good at 8.30pm  Monday, 7 September

Episode 2 now re-available to watch on 4oD at:


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“They run your life, so you don’t have to” courtesy Gordon’s Good Idea


Update:  Benefit Busters: Episode 2, which screened on Thursday, 27 August, had been scheduled for repeat on Monday, 31 August.  The repeat appears to have been pulled.  It is reported that Episode 2 was briefly available online but that, too, has since disappeared. 

There is no information about the change in scheduling or the removal of Episode 2 on the C4 or 4oD sites. So if you missed Thursday’s broadcast, as I did, please be aware that only Episode 1 is currently available to watch online via 4oD and that only two very brief clips from Episode 2 are now available.

Commentary here and here on WordPress New Deals Scandal site. Here and here on Indus Delta site.


Benefit Busters Channel 4

Benefit Busters

Series Summary

In 2009, Britain will pay out more in benefits than it raises in income tax. Welfare and pension payments cost more than education, health or defence.

Now, as the government attempts to revolutionise the welfare system – controversially rewarding private companies according to their ability to coax people off benefits and into jobs – this documentary series follows the people on both sides of this new welfare state.


Series | Episode 1 | Benefit Busters  [48 mins]

Thursday 20 August  9PM Channel 4

Hayley Taylor’s job is to persuade single mothers on benefits to go back to work.

The company she works for, A4E, which is helping to tackle the Government’s target of getting 70 per cent of lone parents into paid work by 2010, is the largest welfare reform company in the world [1].

A4E is run by multimillionaire entrepreneur Emma Harrison, who believes her business is ‘improving people’s lives by getting them into work.’

Until recently, the 700,000 lone parents receiving benefit didn’t have to look for work until their youngest child was 16. Soon, they must either work, or be looking for work, once their youngest child is seven.

At Doncaster A4E, Hayley runs a course called Elevate that aims to give lone parents the skills and confidence to enter the workplace and convince them they’ll be better off doing so. Cameras follow her group of ten single mothers during their intensive six-week course to prepare them for work.

Watch again on 4oD at:


Series 1 | Episode 2 | Benefit Busters [60mins]

Thursday 27 August  9PM Channel 4

Unemployment is rife in Hull, but for one company business is booming: A4E has won the lucrative contract to help get the long-term unemployed back to work. Mark Pilkington is an ex-soldier who hasn’t worked for 10 years. He welcomes help and within a fortnight he finds a job. But the joy of receiving his first pay cheque is short-lived; after just four weeks a business downturn results in Mark being laid off.

Facing a return to A4E and potentially a four-week wait to restart his benefit payments, Mark begins to wonder if there is more security in a life on benefits.

It appears to be a shockingly common perception amongst the clients at A4E, who are at the mercy of an increasingly casual labour market.

Watch again on 4oD at:

Two brief clips at:


Episode 3

Series 1 | Episode 3 | Benefit Busters

Thursday 03 September  9PM Channel 4
Sunday 06 September 3.20AM Channel 4

One of the government’s targets is to shift one million people off long-term sickness benefits and get them back to work.

In Oldham, the charity Shaw Trust  has won the contract to implement this policy [2].

Sherrie Jepson, a former car saleswoman, has the job of selling the idea of employment to people who were previously considered too sick to work.

Keiron Tandy fell from a third-floor balcony while celebrating his 18th birthday in Turkey. He has metal pins in his back and has restricted mobility.

His family doctor had confirmed him as ‘unfit for work’ but under the new system he’s examined by an independent medical examiner employed by a private health care company, which will determine whether he is fit enough to return to work. Meanwhile, Sherrie starts to try to convince Keiron that he could work if a suitable job that allowed for his condition could be found.

Watch again on 4oD at:

[1] See previous posting:

Elephant in the Room Series Three: Channel 4: Benefit Busters, A4e and the Sykes brothers:

The CISSD Project (Conceptual Issues in Somatoform and Similar Disorders), co-ordinated by Dr Richard Sykes, PhD, between 2003 and 2007, and administered by UK patient organisation, Action for M.E., was funded by The Hugh and Ruby Sykes Charitable Trust to the tune of £62,750. Dr Richard Sykes and Sir Hugh Sykes are brothers. Sir Hugh Sykes is a non executive director of A4e (Action for Employment) – the largest European provider of Welfare to Work programmes.

Sir Hugh Sykes has authored pamphlets for the right-wing think-tank “Politeia”:

[2] See: 10 August Third Sector Online report on Shaw Trust:

“Shaw Trust accounts show crippling cost of DWP contracts: Charity blames Pathways to Work programme for huge deficit”

also see: Shaw Trust Press Release, 20 August :

“Shaw Trust Stars in Channel 4 Documentary ‘Benefit Busters'”