Breadline Britain. The Rise of Mass Poverty


Over the last thirty years national income has doubled. So has poverty. Where did it all go wrong? Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack explain in their new book Breadline Britain.

Poverty in Britain is at crisis levels. Food bank queues, poor housing and insecure jobs are on the rise, leaving increasing numbers of people with their most basic needs unmet and millions of children damaged by a lack of opportunities.

  • Poverty has doubled since 1983 – and is set to get worse over the next five years.
  • 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 ten lacks warm clothes.
  • Gas and electricity prices have doubled over the last decade.
  • Meanwhile average wages have fallen over the same period.
  • The knock-on effects mean 21% of people are living in debt and a third of people are unable to save any money at all.
  • Of those in poverty 39% are working full-time and 13% are in part-time employment.
  • Only 12% of people living in poverty are unemployed, while 11% are sick or disabled.

According to the authors poverty among pensioners has fallen over the last 30 years: just over 14% are poor.

Based on exclusive access to a unique series of surveys conducted in the UK over three decades, the authors reveal the shocking state of deprivation in Britain today and debunk the myth that poverty is down to a ‘something for nothing’ benefits system. Instead, the blame lies with a massive shift in power from the workforce to corporations that has led to an increasingly uneven division of the cake. Hard-hitting and timely, this book argues that only wholly different political choices will reverse the fall in living standards experienced by so many Britons today.

“I remember very clearly my sense of elation when I first saw the material that went into Mack and Lansley’s enlightening, but disturbing research. Breadline Britain is a brilliant continuation of their deep engagement with the investigation of unacceptable poverty in Britain’s otherwise prosperous economy.”
Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics

“Careful and hard hitting. The book leaves our politicians no excuses.”
Richard Wilkinson, co-author of The Spirit Level

“Indispensable. Analytically sophisticated as well as viscerally stirring.”
David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain, 1945-51

“The big debates about social and economic policy in Western countries are shifting from concerns about poverty to a recognition that growing inequality is our fundamental problem. Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack, who have been working in this field for a generation, offer a massively convincing analysis of this problem and the policies it calls for.”
David Donnison, Emeritus Professor of Regional and Town Planning, University of Glasgow and former Chair of the Supplementary Benefits Commission

Launched at Daunt Books in Marylebone on 11 February, the official publication date is 19 February. One World Books. ISBN 9781780745442. £9.99.

Joanna Mack works at the Open University and created the research resource Stewart Lansley is an economist and financial journalist. He has written extensively on poverty, wealth and inequality.  Both are former award-winning television producers, and have collaborated on research and television programmes about poverty over the last thirty years.

Note: some readers of this blog will remember Stewart as a member of Wandsworth Poverty Action Group/Wandsworth People’s Rights in the 1970s and his work for it on Housing Allowances.




About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Breadline Britain. The Rise of Mass Poverty

  1. Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs and commented:
    Best account of our dysfunctional housing market I have read anywhere.

  2. Pingback: The Case for Universal Basic Income | History & Social Action News and Events

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s