Read the complete preface to the second edition of John Hill’s influential Good times, bad times below. This ground-breaking book uses extensive research and survey evidence to challenge the myth that the population divides into those who benefit from the welfare state and those who pay into it – ‘skivers’ and ‘strivers’, ‘them’ and ‘us’.
“Good times, bad times was completed in 2014. A great deal has happened in UK politics and policy since then, not least the election of a majority Conservative government led by David Cameron in May 2015, the result of the referendum in June 2016 for Britain to leave the European Union, and the subsequent appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister in July 2016.
Through all of this, the issues discussed in this book have remained central. One of its themes is the way that our lives are ever-changing.
Sometimes this is simply because we get older, we form – and dissolve – marriages and other partnerships, children are born, and they leave home.
But it is also because we move in and out of work, change and lose jobs, and what comes in from work and other sources can change not just from year to- year with our careers, but also from month-to-month, or even day-to-day, in ways highlighted by the spread of ‘zero hours contracts’.
Our needs – for education and for health and social care – change as we grow older, but also with the fluctuations in our state of health.
“Much popular debate assumes that people’s lives are unchanging.”