Book review: Breadline Britain: The Rise Of Mass Poverty

Breadline Britain: The Rise Of Mass Poverty
Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack
Oneworld Publications, €14.99;
ebook, €15.98

When Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack wrote the pioneering Poor Britain, in 1985 — a response to the first ‘Breadline Britain’ survey, of 1983 — they probably hoped it would lead to a rise in living conditions for the people whose plight they documented.

They certainly didn’t imagine how much worse things would become.

Drawing on three decades of statistics from the Breadline Britain surveys, the authors use eye-opening numbers to illustrate that nearly one in three Britons live in poverty: three-and-a-half million adults go hungry so they can feed their children; one in five children is in a house that is cold and damp; and one in 10 lacks warm clothes.

Nothing less than a damning indictment of authority, the book paints a picture of a system, which — rather than releasing people from poverty — has entrapped many in lives of deprivation. It makes for some seriously uncomfortable reading — as it should.


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