Could the average taxpayer live on benefits?
This question will be asked by a new BBC 1 show - We All Pay Your Benefits - to be broadcast tomorrow at 9.00 pm, which sees The Apprentice's Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford challenge four employed people to live on unemployment benefits to try to get a better undestanding of the problems it brings.
The corporation says the programme will see "four claimants and four taxpayers come face-to-face to explore each other's lives, examine their values and speak their minds" so conflict is likely.
It will ask questions on whether "tax payers feel that benefits are too high, or not enough, and [whether] the claimants decide that hard work is good for them, or will the sacrifice be too much."
The lack of understanding shown by these questions - the majority of benefit claimants are also tax payers, most low-paid tax payers also receive benefits, and the idea of 'lazy' claimants is a tabloid cliche devoid of truth when most have worked before - is unlikely to inspire confidence that the BBC will break its recent run of poor-quality coverage of benefits issues.
Previous examples have included Saints and Scroungers with its implication that leaving benefits to which you are entitled unclaimed and your family in poverty is to be praised.
The BBC writes of 'battle lines' being drawn between 'strivers' and 'skivers' without putting these untruths in the political context which inspired them: the phrase was coined by Chancellor George Osborne, but no evidence has ever been offered that 'skivers' exist.
UnemployedNet will be tweeting live during the programme tomorrow from 9.00 pm.