17th October 2009
I had a great time up in Glasgow this week at the BBC Money Matters Roadshow.
I was one of 30 financial experts (from all different areas of finance) that appeared at the Buchanan Galleries, advising the general public on their finance issues and providing helpful infomation to BBC viewers and listeners.
I met some really nice members of the public that needed some help wth their benefits - this included carers, jobsekers, pensioners and people with health problems & disablilites.
I also provided lots of content for various BBC broadcasts, including Radio Five Live, BBC News and BBC2's Working Lunch.
Benefits are having a really bad press at the moment, and in some ways it is right that they are. The system is too complex, fraud is a real concern and the amount of people that are reliant on benefits as a way of surviving is astronomical.
What I'm trying to do though with my BBC work is meet the middle ground - I think it is about recognising the concerns that the public have about the benefits system but also not losing sight of the fact that the benefits system is there to provide support to genuine people that need help and support. Bridging this together is the key message about seeking advice - if people better understand their circumstances and how they relate to the benefits system then people will hopefully understand their entitlement better and be able to make more informed choices about claiming, moving into work, reporting changes of circumstances etc.
I think this approach is working really well with the BBC as I'm coming from a purely independent perspective and I'm so pleased that the BBC are allowing me to be positive about benefits & tax credits as they can make such a difference to people that are facing difficult circumstances or situations.
The issues affecting real people
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