Viewers of BBC’s Broke last night were shocked by a father and son who have to live in a tents, despite working around 60 hours a week.
Since losing his job five months ago, Steve, 50, from Hastings has been forced to take on a zero-hours contract job on a hop farm, and he and his son, Billy, have been left homeless after being turned down for a council house.
With the cost of living rising, and one third of British workers having less than £500 in savings, the series follows nine families during a critical year as their financial future hangs in the balance.
Both casual workers, Steve and Billy are on zero-hours contracts – working up to 60 hours a week – but because of low pay and the uncertainty of their hours, they can’t afford to pay rent.
Viewers of the show were horrified and couldn’t believe their living conditions, with some admitting it was the ‘most depressing thing they had watched.’
Steve and his son Billy, from Hastings, have to live in tents after Steve lost his job and then they lost their home
When they were first homeless they hoped that the council would help them but quickly realised that it would take time to get a house and set up home on the beach, in tents. Now they have moved into a woodland area – at the back of a friends house
Viewers thought that their situation was sad and said that some, who work, are no better of than those who are unemployed
Many people tweeted their shock at how they are living: ‘How sad that people are working 60 – 65 hours a week and they’re sleeping in tents or worrying they may lose their homes. Some are no better off than the unemployed #Broke’.
While another said: ‘Nobody should be forced to sleep in a tent because they cannot secure full-time work through no fault of their own.’
‘These beach guys are willing to work and they do yet live in tents while loads of scroungers sign on and get free houses makes no sense,’ said another.
While a viewers also said the show was,’ the most depressing thing I have ever watched,’ while another said it was a ‘real eye opener’.
Viewers of the show were horrified and couldn’t believe that despite working they were living in tents and admitted it was the ‘most depressing thing they had watched
Father Steve can’t believe the situation he is in and says: ‘I’m 50 years old and living in a tent – I would rather be in a house without a doubt.’
When they were first homeless they hoped that the council would help them but quickly realised that it would take time to get a house and set up home on the beach, in tents – as a temporary measure. Now, five months later they have moved into a woodland area – at the back of a friends house.
Billy says about his father: ‘It upsets me about where he was to where he is now – and he hasn’t really had anything to deserve it.’
Both are casual workers, on zero hour contracts – Steve originally took what he could find, with occasional shifts in a pub, but now works through an agency and regularly does 10 hours a day on a hop farm – but from week to week his hours aren’t secure.
Talking about his job he said: ‘I hate it, I hate the job – but if you don’t take this job then someone else will.’
When they were first homeless Steve (left) and Billy (right) they hoped that the council would help them but quickly realised that it would take time to get a house and set up home on the beach, in tents
Billy said that it is nice waking up to birds in the morning but it does get ‘a bit annoying sometimes’
Later on in the show Steve (right) misses work as he sleeps in and he gets sacked as they thing he’s unreliable – which puts extra strain on him and his son.
Showing us round their campsite on the programme last night Billy said: ‘This is my bit of luxury. I’ve also got an old X-box in the hope that I’ll get a telly.’
He went on to say about his living condition: ‘It’s nice waking up to birds in the morning but it does get a bit annoying sometimes.’
Billy works as a tree surgeon, but also never knows how much work he will get every week, and says that he has to survive on £500 a month sometimes.
Applying for social housing they realised how many houses are unavailable in their local area. While if they wanted to rent privately they would need to raise £1500 between them for a deposit and the first months rent.
Later on in the show Steve misses work as he sleeps in and he gets sacked as they thing he’s unreliable – which puts extra strain on him and his son.
The BBC show Broke is the reality of people on the bread line – the father and son have to clean their teeth outside their tents in a forest
Billy says that it’s nice waking up to birds in the morning but ‘it does get a bit annoying sometime’
This weeks documentary also tells the story of Ross from Port Talbot, who has worked full-time at the local steel works for 20years.
His pay has failed to keep up with the rising cost of living and he now earns less after tax than when he started. With three children, a mortgage and credit card debt, he picks up extra shifts to help the family’s tight budget.
Mark was also in last nights show – he lives in London and once worked as successful celebrity photographer. He is now part of the gig economy working as an Uber driver.
After a life of freelancing, he doesn’t have savings or a pension and retirement is a distant dream. He knows a short illness or a few points on his licence could mean losing his home. Together with his partner and kids, he faces an uncertain financial future.