Archive for the 'Poverty and Inequality' Category

Dejected, disgruntled and divided: Britain’s EU referendum

As the UK continues to reel in shock at the outcome of the EU referendum, Nathan Manning shares his thoughts on what it has revealed about the state of the country and the implications for democracy…

Nathan Manning

Nathan Manning

Britain’s referendum on EU membership has been an ugly affair. Jo Cox MP was brutally murdered in the street en route to her constituency surgery. Both sides of the campaign routinely reduced public debate to sloganeering and sustained misinformation, half-truths and flat-out lies.

Once again, political elites tended to ignore young people and were patronising when they did address them. It did get people talking, but public debate was a long way from the inclusive and public-spirited conversations we needed to help open up the political possibilities of the decision before us.

The Leave campaign offered no clear indication of what Brexit might practically mean and Remain rarely offered more than the status quo or the abject fear of the alternative. There was precious little space in which citizens could ask new questions, create new meanings or inspire one another.

Elite control

Mark Twain told us that ‘if voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.’ Continue reading ‘Dejected, disgruntled and divided: Britain’s EU referendum’

10 things you should know about foodbanks

“It happened so quickly…. Within two months I had gone from a full-time, salaried job in Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to sobbing on the phone to the energy company, begging them not to turn off the heating in a flat with cold laminate flooring and large windows, occupied by a baby boy who was not yet two years old.” Jack Monroe, Writer, journalist and campaigner, Foreword to Hunger Pains

kayleigh-garthwaiteThink you know about foodbanks and the people who use them? Think again.

Kayleigh Garthwaite’s new book which publishes today, Hunger Pains, challenges some of the biggest foodbank myths.

Here are the top 10…

1. Anyone can turn up and get a food parcel

You need a red voucher to get food, given to you by a frontline care professional who has identified you as being in need. It is likely that many people in food poverty who are outside of the ‘system’ aren’t getting help.

If somebody does come in and say “Can I have some food?” you can say “Have you got a voucher?” as that’s the rules.” Foodbank volunteer

Continue reading ’10 things you should know about foodbanks’

Free extract: How austerity has been biting the UK since 2010

In light of the media surprise at George Osborne’s 2016 botched Budget and Ian Duncan Smith’s sudden bout of conscience we thought we’d treat you to some tasty extracts from Mary O’Hara’s book Austerity Bites.

 Chronicling the true impact of austerity as it has been felt in the UK since its inception in 2010 and calling the government to account for the pain inflicted on society’s most vulnerable, Austerity Bites reveals that the wounds of austerity have been visible for quite some time…

Mary O'Hara

Mary O’Hara

In February 2015 Tory Party grandees believed it was acceptable to hold a Black and White Ball fundraiser with tables going for £15,000 a time and to have among the items being auctioned bound copies of George Osborne’s Budgets, including the first ‘Emergency Budget’ that ushered in austerity.

While the average British citizen has been living in ever-more precarious circumstances and paying through the nose for bankers’ malfeasance the rich can rest assured that they won’t have to pay their fair share. This is the situation almost five years into Austerity UK.

This Tory and the previous coalition government have presided over manifold cases of people so crushed by the brutish, punitive changes to the welfare system, including the inexplicable ‘Bedroom Tax’, and sanctions that many have gone without food, resorted to begging or taken up ‘survival shoplifting’ after their meagre benefits support has been withdrawn. People are suicidal.

Despair

The government has driven innumerable disabled people to despair with its spectacularly inappropriate and mismanaged ‘back-to-work’ programmes that are still plagued by criticisms of callousness and ineptitude. Continue reading ‘Free extract: How austerity has been biting the UK since 2010’

4 lessons from the global financial crisis and austerity

As stock markets around the world continue to fluctuate, academic and author of The global financial crisis and austerity, David Clark, shares his thoughts on the four lessons to be learned from the global financial crisis and the ensuing government response of ‘austerity’ and tells us why he’s pleased to have been born when he was…

David Clark

David Clark

Nearly a decade has passed since the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown that triggered the great financial crash of 2008. The advanced economies of the world have yet to make a full recovery from the crash and subsequent Great Recession.

In fact, 2016 has begun with renewed turmoil in global financial markets, reflecting concerns about the slowdown of economic activity in China and the collapse in the price of oil and other commodities.

These are compounded by fears that mediocre growth may be a ‘new normal’, with austerity and the overhang of debt acting as a drag on household consumption. The spectre of skilled jobs being lost due to automation is also contributing to ‘growth gloom’.

So what has gone wrong? Here are four lessons that I think we need to learn about the global financial crisis and austerity.

Lesson 1 – The experts got it wrong

Or, if you want to be really disrespectful, the people in charge don’t know much more than we do (see here). Continue reading ‘4 lessons from the global financial crisis and austerity’

Children behind bars: The global overuse of detention of children

Human Rights Watch’s annual World Report 2016 publishes this month and documents, amongst other issues, the armed conflict in Syria, international drug reform, drones and electronic mass surveillance.

In today’s blog post we republish an article from the book written by Senior Counsel, Children’s Rights Division, Michael Garcia Bochenek who highlights the widespread, poorly documented and often abused reality of children locked up in prisons around the world. This article was first published on the Human Rights Watch website here.

2015_Michael-Bochenek_03_web

Michael Garcia Bochenek – Senior Counsel, Children’s Rights Division

Shortly after 16-year-old T.W. was booked into Florida’s Polk County Jail in February 2012, his three cellmates punched him, whipped him with wet towels, and nearly strangled him with a pillowcase.

They then urinated on him, sprayed his face with cleaning fluid, and stripped him naked before wrapping a sheet around his neck, tying the other end around the window bar, and pulling so tight he lost consciousness. They repeated this attack three times over the course of several hours without jail guards on regular rounds even noticing, a federal magistrate judge found.

Around the world, children languish behind bars, sometimes for protracted periods. In many cases, as with T.W., they face brutal and inhumane conditions.

Record-keeping

The lack of record-keeping and a wide array of institutions means that the number of children held worldwide in such environments is not known.
Continue reading ‘Children behind bars: The global overuse of detention of children’

Beyond Downton: Can the welfare state embrace a participatory future? #participatorycare #allourwelfare

The union of personal experience and professional knowledge has informed Peter Beresford’s latest book All our welfare which publishes today. In his guest post he reflects on a life lived in parallel with the development of the welfare state and suggests greater involvement of participants in the process of welfare could be the key to an enduring future…

Beresford imageWriting All Our Welfare has really made me realize just how much the welfare state has impacted on my life – personally as well as professionally.

At a time when we are encouraged to think of ‘welfare’ as for ‘other’ people, particularly stigmatized and devalued other people, this goes against the grain of received wisdom.

I realize that I may have had more contact than most people, with state services – including so-called heavy end ones, like ‘benefits’, psychiatric system, environmental health, rent officers and so on. But this increasingly feels like a strength rather than a weakness in exploring social policy.

Lived experience

I wanted my book to include and value lived experience as well as traditional ‘expert’ knowledge. As part of this I included comments from many members of my family in the book. What was interesting was that all of them could speak from direct experience about the welfare state, from age three to 91 and most did so enthusiastically (Charlie (aged 11) and Poppy (aged 9) weren’t too keen on some aspects of school!).
Continue reading ‘Beyond Downton: Can the welfare state embrace a participatory future? #participatorycare #allourwelfare’

Why Cameron’s housing policy will make the UK more spatially unequal

Today’s guest post by Peter Matthews, co-author of After urban regeneration: Communities, policy and place, was written in response to David Cameron’s announced plan to demolish England’s poorest council estates.

This article, originally titled ‘ABI n* – return of the ABI’ was first published on the blog Urban policy and practice on Monday 11th January 2016.

Peter MatthewsI did my doctoral research on area-based initiatives, or ABIs. Even when I was doing the research the writing was on the wall for them.

The focus of my research had been the former Scottish Executive Community Regeneration Fund administered through Single Outcome Agreements. This ceased to be just as I was going into the field following the first SNP victory in 2007, so it ended up being about the “ending” of meaningful regenerationfor residents.

Following the 2010 election and the coalition government it looked like any form of regeneration was off the cards under the excuse of “austerity”. I’ve co-edited a book – After Urban Regeneration – that argues this very point. My research had turned to broader questions of inequality in our cities, particularly what the increasing focus on community engagement and involvement in service delivery might mean for inequalities in service delivery. Continue reading ‘Why Cameron’s housing policy will make the UK more spatially unequal’


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