Right now in the UK, 13 million people live in poverty; one in five children subsist below the poverty line. Figures such as these suggest devastating repercussions for health, education and life expectancy. The new poor, however, is an even larger group than these official statistics suggest, and its conditions are something new to our era. More often than not, these people are the working poor, living precariously and betrayed by austerity.
In The New Poverty, Stephen Armstrong tells the stories of the most vulnerable in British society. He explores an unreported country, abandoned by politicians and stranded as the welfare state has shrunk. Furthermore, as benefit cuts continue into 2018 and beyond, Armstrong asks what will be the long-term impact of Brexit and—on the anniversary of the Beveridge Report—what we can do to keep the giants of indigence at bay.
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.”
“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”
“The private sector has failed. The state has withered. Stephen Armstrong explains why we have reached the tipping point now. So much could very soon be changed for the better, or become much worse.”
“A hard-hitting exposé of the problems and suffering of people who are at the lower end of the pay scale … very much in the mould of George Orwell’s The Road To Wigan Pier and makes for uneasy, but essential reading.”
“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.”
“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.”