Words by: Jennifer Rodger
Steve and his
‘I want my
kids to do
and get paid for
Struggling on the edge
Eviction or suicide are among the
fears stalking families on low incomes
hether we work to live or live
to work, we all agree it is to
pay the bills. But what if you
clock in the hours, and it
doesn’t pay the bills?
This documentary follows nine families over a year who fall
between the cracks, coming up short each month and
racking up debts. It’s the heartbreaking story behind working
Britain today, and the people living pay cheque by pay cheque.
We meet father of three children Ross from Port Talbot in
Wales. He works 12 hours a day at the steel works, and his
weekly £375 pay after tax hasn’t kept up with inflation or the
cost of living. He has a full-time job, but once bills, debts and
the mortgage are paid, his family has less than
£300 per month to live off.
‘I want something better for my
children,’ says Ross. ‘I don’t want my
kids repeating my life. I don’t want
them to follow in my footsteps. I
want them to do better things and
get paid for something that they
He’s managing to keep his
family afloat, but father and son
Steve and Billy are sinking. When
Steve lost his job, he then had to
leave his home and has spent the
summer living in a tent on the beach
He has now pitched up in the
woods. He’s taken work on a zero-hours
contract on a hop farm, but loses it when he
calls in late one day.
Meanwhile, the documentary includes the voices of other
Britons in debt talking about how they’ve had to live off
payday loans and credit cards, and even contemplated
suicide. Life is just too expensive.
Also watch the dramatisation of the real story of Jerome
Rogers, who didn’t have the money to pay his speeding
fines because he couldn’t make a living on his zero-hour
contract with a bike courier company. The fines
escalated and, trapped in debt, aged 20, Rogers took his
own life. Killed By My Debt (BBC Three).
Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits (All4) is a
documentary that looks at the impact of universal credit,
when the switch in the welfare system left people without
income for five weeks.
BROKEN BRITAIN ON TV
Ross hopes for
a better life for
SATURDAY MAGAZINE 13