IN a striking break from tradition, new statues in a Norway city centre don’t represent those we’re used to looking up to – instead they represent those some would look down upon.

Sculptures of beggars wrapped in blankets and accordion playing buskers are currently dotted around Stavanger, working to highlight those who live on the fringes of society.

In casting them in bronze, the artist drags the public gaze towards the unseen, makes visible and unavoidable the stark existence of those whose desperation is often stepped over, ignored and lost to the distraction of our own day-to-day.

Closer to home, Ken Loach’s latest film – I, Daniel Blake - attempts to do the same, doing its utmost to shine a light on the plight of those forced to rely upon our increasingly Kafka-esque benefits system.

Dividing opinion from its first screening, the project draws on contemporary reports to illustrate the increasingly bizarre workings of a system that, these days, appears more driven by punishment than it is by any concern for welfare.

Loach’s protagonists Daniel and Katie move through a series of set pieces designed to highlight real experiences reported by those who have fallen foul of the Department of Work and Pensions.

Their world, and their characters, are a composite of the reports we see in papers every day, of the bureaucratic nightmare that underpins the benefits system; of those disabled people not fit for work who fail DWP tests and are ordered to return anyway; of the men and women left with nothing after being sanctioned for arbitrary reasons; of their children; of sexual exploitation, poverty and foodbank queues, of the volunteers who step in where the state no longer does.

I saw it with my partner, who didn’t understand the point – ‘I grew up poor, it tells me nothing new’, he said.

It wasn’t made for him but for those who may never bother to see it anyway, for those who are privileged enough not to recognise the bleak world depicted in it.

Journalist Toby Young is one of a number of people who are claiming Loach’s film is unrealistic, that it doesn’t ring true – an absurd statement seemingly grounded in gut instinct rather than actual research.

Friends of mine say life on benefits can’t be all that bad, but if you’ve ever been anywhere near the sharp end of the system or know anyone who has, you’ll know it can be exactly that bad – and worse.

We’ve got real, life-destroying problems at the heart of our so-called welfare system and we can’t allow them to be dismissed by those who favour the simplistic narrative that tells us benefits claimants are little more than shirkers who probably deserve their sanctions and should just get off their backsides and get a job.

Loach’s film, and those Norwegian sculptures, make visible the reality of lives that may be unpalatable to some but are undeniably lived by a growing number of people.

They thrust centre-stage those who some would rather not see and provide an opportunity to have fresh conversations, to demand change.

That some would reject that opportunity and dismiss this work simply because it jars with their world-view is utterly saddening.