I dropped out of school at 15 with no qualifications, in much the same situation as the residents of James Turner Street on Channel 4's Benefits Street. But thanks to a plumbing apprenticeship, hard work and an old box of tools I bought at an auction, I now own London's biggest independent plumbing firm, which I built myself from the ground up.
Iain Duncan Smith appeared in front of the work and pensions committee of MPs yesterday, but decided against illuminating them - and us - about his work. His Universal Credit scheme, widely recognised to be failing due in great part to his poor management and lack of financial acumen, was the main item on the agenda.
Unemployment has shown a big fall in the last three months and now stands at 7.1% of the working population. But coverage of the issue has focused on the likely result of this fall on interest rates. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has said he will not raise interest rates, which have been stuck at 0.5% since 2009, until unemployment drops to 7%.
Yesterday, in an article on the Huffington Post, I read quotes from Sir Stuart Rose, CEO of Ocado and Lance Batchelor, CEO of Domino's, in relation to immigration and the British work ethic. To be quite frank, I was incredulous. These men are no doubt highly intelligent individuals, with an intrinsic understanding of the political and economic aspects of both free trade and the labour markets.
Who would have thought it? Cutting people's benefits, when there are almost 14 times as many jobseekers as jobs, hasn't sent them all rushing back to work and is causing misery for those families at the sharp end of austerity. The Chartered Institute of Housing's report into the impact of the benefit cap in one area of London confirms what any reasonable person would have guessed. But the headline, that the cap is struggling to meet its aims of encouraging people into work and saving taxpayers' money, is I think rather generous.