Today 13 million people are living in poverty in the UK. According to a 2017 report, 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line. The new poor, however, are an even larger group than these official figures suggest. They are more often than not in work, living precariously and betrayed by austerity policies that make affordable good quality housing, good health and secure employment increasingly unimaginable.
In The New Poverty investigative journalist Stephen Armstrong travels across Britain to tell the stories of those who are most vulnerable. It is the story of an unreported Britain, abandoned by politicians and betrayed by the retreat of the welfare state. As benefit cuts continue and in-work poverty soars, he asks what long-term impact this will have on post-Brexit Britain and—on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 1942 Beveridge report—what we can do to stop the destruction of our welfare state.
In this video Stephen Armstrong looks at the 5 "evils" outlined in the original Beveridge report, examining where we are now and why people have been so betrayed by the welfare state:
“Armstrong has gone to Wigan to expose a situation with depressing echoes of Orwell’s day: huge inequalities of wealth, comfort and life chances unaddressed by a government composed of distant, unsympathetic plutocrats and public schoolboys … The reasons for this apparent social shift, this new, ugly, public face of a lumpen proletariat Orwell rarely encountered, are many and complex. Most of them are surveyed in this forceful book. It is powerful stuff.”
“Back in 1936, Orwell asked why people should live in poverty and despair in one of the richest countries in the world? Now, as this book shows, the cold hand of poverty is back. It is time to ask this government the same question: Why?”
“Defines the state of the nation.”
“Stephen Armstrong's The New Poverty is a hard hitting expose of the problems and suffering of people who are at the lower end of the pay scale and therefore at the mercy of those who wish to take advantage. This book is very much in the mould of George Orwell's The Road To Wigan Pier and makes for uneasy, but essential reading.”
“A visceral experience, punching through the layers of rationalisation, ignorance and self-interest separating those who live comfortably from those who don’t ... The outstanding feature of The New Poverty is Armstrong’s persistent effort to connect local experience and action the systematic context in which poverty is not only thriving but also taking increasingly sinister forms”
“Mixes hard facts with heartbreaking interviews, deploying the latter to give weight to the former and to make their abstractions more devastatingly real ... Read this and you’ll realise that now is our time to act.”