'White Dee' hints at Ukip support
Benefits Street star Deirdre Kelly has condemned Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith for being "out of touch with the real world" and revealed she might vote Ukip at next year's general election.
Ms Kelly, who found fame as White Dee on the controversial show, said the welfare system had got worse under the coalition Government as she appeared at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference.
In a jibe at the Tories, who have been hit by the defection of two MPs to Nigel Farage's party, she said the Ukip leader "has had a few extra members joining recently".
She said she "very well could" vote Ukip at the election, and told the audience she was "not a massive fan" of Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Asked about benefit cuts, Ms Kelly criticised Mr Duncan Smith, who has overseen the Government's welfare reforms.
"You have someone who I think is completely out of touch with the real world making decisions on people who do actually live in the real world ... that's Iain Duncan Smith, isn't it?"
At the event in Birmingham, hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank, she said: "I like to speak for myself but Mr Farage doesn't seem to be doing a bad job. He has had a few extra members joining recently, hasn't he?"
Ms Kelly told the audience at the packed fringe event that job centres "have to get more in touch with the real person".
"I have experienced some not very nice job centres," she said. "You do just go in, you sit down, you are looked down upon.
"They just need to understand that, just because you are on benefits does not mean that you are not a real person. Just because you are on benefits doesn't mean that you are not physically looking for a job."
Asked about the welfare changes introduced since 2010, she said : "I have noticed a change. I think it's considerably got worse."
She criticised the way sanctions were applied to people for failing to fulfil their obligations under the system.
"I think people are too quick to sanction people who are looking for jobs. You do have to deal with it on an individual basis," she said.
"There are people out there who are very happy to sit at home and receive their benefits and not physically look for a job. But I know people who apply for 20, 30 jobs a week.
"You can't force an employer to give you a job, so what you have to do is make sure the resources are there to enable the jobseeker to get a job, be a bit more realistic with what kind of schemes are available to them, because not everybody wants to work in an office or build a wall."
She added: "It's not fair that someone works a 40-hour, if not more, week and doesn't have as much to live on as someone who sits at home, doesn't work and is given money from the Government.
"But that's not that individual's fault, that is the Government's fault. I think the Government also has to look at (the) minimum wage and things like that.
"It's the Government that says how much someone is entitled to to live on, not the individual."
Ms Kelly has hinted in the past that she would consider running for Parliament, and told the gathering in Birmingham: "It's something I would think about, but obviously I wouldn't object to starting at the bottom - I wouldn't want to go straight in and have David Cameron's job.
"I would think about it because I am interested in politics and I am interested in normal people and I am interested in the country."
She said she would form her own party if she decided to stand and dismissed criticism of her background, saying: "Just because you are a little bit common doesn't mean that you are stupid and you wouldn't be able to have a good input. I think the more common you are the more in touch you are with real people, so yes it would be something I would consider."
She added: " You can never be liked by 100% of people, I think most MPs know that."