Phillip Schofield is never shy about letting guests on This Morning know when he disagrees with their beliefs or behaviour.
And he wasted no time telling a benefits claimant exactly what he thought of her, after she boasted about spending her hand-outs on a lavish Christmas.
Introducing Deborah Hodge, Phil explained how her four children had woken up on Christmas Day to an array of expensive gifts, including laptops, iPads and two husky puppies.
This, co-host Davina McCall added, is despite her claiming thousands of pounds in benefits each year – £1627 a month, to be precise.
But, parking this for a second, what really annoyed Phil was the mum-of-four using her £10 Christmas benefit bonus to buy two bottles of Prosecco – and then declaring: “So cheers to the taxpayer for my Christmas gift!”
Pointing out that most workers and benefits claimants alike probably don’t realise such a bonus exists, Phil said, clearly bristling: “Do you not think that’s a little bit incendiary?
“It’s not, ‘Thank you so much, I am grateful,’ it sounds like, ‘Cheers! There you go, look what I just bought with YOUR money!’”
Trying to explain why it might appear that Deborah was rubbing people’s noses in it, Davina questioned how she would have felt as a tax payer, had she heard someone on benefits make that statement.
“I’d have felt angry,” Deborah admitted.
Predicting the anger felt by lots of viewers watching the interview, Davina tried to explain to their guest why so many would be upset that she had treated her family to such luxury gifts, while living on benefits.
“I think the thing people at home might struggle to come to terms with, you’ve talked about the gifts your children got at Christmas…” she said.
“To a lot of people who are struggling to make ends meet or can’t afford to buy their children those kinds of gifts and that are perhaps working, they might feel, ‘Hang on a minute…’
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Deborah explained that she had not always been on benefits – she had held a very well-paid job and paid tax for many years.
She argued that most of the presents had been purchased with credit cards and loans – which would have to be paid back from her own pocket.
The former teacher, who is now a yet-to-be-published writer, added that she fully intends to get a job in the future.
However, the mum risked the wrath of Phil again by announcing she was proud to be on benefits.
She saved herself by saying: “When I say I am proud, I am proud to live in a country where we do have a benefits system. My children and I may have been split up, desperate things could have happened.
“I used to be the person who would look down on people on benefits, the person who would be snooty, and now I see the world in a completely different way and I am proud to say we do have the NHS, we do have the benefits system.”
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Asked by Phil if she now regretted the Prosecco shout-out, the 43-year-old, from London, replied: “We can’t go back in time, I stick by it.
“I’m proud to be caught by the benefits system. We can live a little, not a lot.
“I wanted my children to have the Christmas that they used to have, as we used to have a lot of money.”