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News Link • Entertainment: Television (TV)

Poverty TV: Hit UK show stirs welfare debate

 A shoplifter, a recovering drug addict and a young couple barely able to feed their kids are among the stars of "Benefits Street" - a smash hit reality show featuring welfare recipients that has stirred up a storm of controversy in Britain.
The program zooms in on a rough Birmingham street where 9 out of 10 people are said to live off state payouts, chronicling over five episodes the lives of jobless neighbors as they struggle with their daily problems.
The show has struck a strong chord in a nation fresh out of recession and still reeling from its most brutal austerity measures in a generation, with basic public services trimmed drastically. Britain's welfare state has long been a subject of pride among many Britons, but these days attitudes toward benefits have hardened - and polls suggest that support for pouring taxpayer money into welfare, especially for the young, is at a record low.

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