Archive for the 'Poverty and Inequality' Category

Where you live can kill you

Clare Bambra’s book Health Divides: where you live can kill you, published by Policy Press today reveals shocking facts about the social, environmental, economic and political causes of these health inequalities. In today’s guest blog Bambra shares her insights on how location really is a matter of life and death…

Clare Bambra

Clare Bambra

In 1842, the English social reformer Edwin Chadwick documented a 30-year discrepancy between the life expectancy of men in the poorest social classes and the gentry.

He also found a North-South health divide with people from all social classes faring better in the rural South than in the industrial North.

Today, these inequalities persist.People in the most affluent areas of the United Kingdom, such as Kensington and Chelsea, can expect to live 14 years longer than that those in the poorest areas, such as Glasgow or Blackpool.

Men and women in the North of England will, on average die 2 years earlier than those in the South. Scottish people also suffer a health penalty with the highest mortality rates in Western Europe. Continue reading ‘Where you live can kill you’

Does social mobility leave us nowhere to go?

Graeme Atherton, author of ‘The Success Paradox: why we need a holistic theory of social mobility’ and director of the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), the professional organisation for access to Higher Education (HE) in England. 

In today’s guest blog Graeme suggests the broken contract of ‘social mobility’ expected in the US and UK lies at the base of the attraction felt by many towards the anti-establishment messages delivered by the likes of Donald Trump and Brexit…

AthertonStagnating social mobility in both the UK and the US is well documented.

The stifling of opportunity for many to move up the economic ladder, and to bequeath such chances to their children has been apparent some time now in the UK and US. Internationally comparative research shows that compared to countries such as Canada and Sweden, British and American children are significantly more likely to have their income dictated by what their parents earn.

This apparent stagnation in social mobility is now beginning to shape not just the views of the policymakers but also the voters. The emergence of the unlikely anti-establishment triumvirate of Trump, Corbyn and Sanders owes much to the frustration people feel regarding the opportunities available to them. The Brexit vote, while a consequence of a conflation of factors coming together, undoubtedly was to some extent an expression of this frustration. Continue reading ‘Does social mobility leave us nowhere to go?’

As pension ages rise, what are our prospects for working longer?

In March of this year the UK government began its long-term review of state pension ages, with a number of commentators predicting large increases in the age of eligibility. David Lain, author of Reconstructing Retirement, sets the context for this review by considering wider changes to retirement policy.

David Lain 4It is commonly said that retirement is changing, with people increasingly expecting to do some form of paid work after ‘retirement’ age.

Sara Rix from AARP, for example, reports perceptions from the US that Baby Boomers will ‘reinvent and/or revolutionise retirement… they will… combine work and leisure in new and more rewarding ways’.

Increasing employment

In reality, however, it is arguably governments that most want us to ‘rethink’ retirement. In my view UK and US governments are actually seeking to reconstruct retirement, by increasing employment at age 65+ and dissolving the notion fixed retirement ages. They are doing this in two ways. Continue reading ‘As pension ages rise, what are our prospects for working longer?’

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

hunger-pains-fc-4webThink you know about foodbanks and the people who use them? Think again.

Kayleigh Garthwaite’s book , 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.


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’

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