Cloth $34.95 ISBN: 9781447315605 Published August 2014 For sale in North and South America only
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9781447315704 Published August 2015 For sale in North and South America only

Austerity Bites

A Journey to the Sharp End of Cuts in the UK

Mary O'Hara

Mary O'Hara

Distributed for Policy Press at the University of Bristol

With a Foreword by Mark Thomas
336 pages | 5 figures | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2014
Cloth $34.95 ISBN: 9781447315605 Published August 2014 For sale in North and South America only
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9781447315704 Published August 2015 For sale in North and South America only
Since taking power in 2010, the Coalition Government in the United Kingdom has pushed through a drastic program of cuts to public spending, all in the name of austerity. The effects on large segments of the population, dependent on programs whose funding was slashed, have been devastating and will continue to be felt for generations.

This timely book by journalist Mary O’Hara chronicles the real-world effects of austerity, removing it from the bland, technocratic language of politics and showing just what austerity means to ordinary lives. Drawing on hundreds of hours of first-person interviews with a wide range of people and, in the paperback edition, featuring an updated afterword by the author, the book explores the grim reality of living amid the biggest reduction of the welfare state in the postwar era and offers a compelling corrective to narratives of shared sacrifice.
Kitty Stewart, London School of Economics | Times Higher Education
"The sense of desperation is palpable, as is the helplessness of job centre advisers under pressure to increase sanctions, and the anger and despair of community and public-sector workers. Both the immediate injustice and the waste of human potential leap from the pages of this book."
J. C. Gabel | The Baffler
“The subject matter of O’Hara’s first book is not merely bleeding-heart-liberal-soapbox stuff; she is the embodiment of how a welfare system in the UK can lift people out of poverty. She comes from a proud working-class family in Belfast, Northern Ireland, earning a scholarship to Cambridge, and, later, a Fulbright scholarship. Political moods and wonk-ish social policy are her lifeblood. This is her beat, and she owns it with facts and figures, not blustering talk. Austerity Bites, not surprisingly then, is a work of scholarship and extensive reporting. O’Hara conveys the lives of everyday people throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—through their own words—who have been adversely affected by the tough austerity measures. She spent years on the ground in various parts of the UK talking to working people, taking their temperature on the recent cuts to social and welfare programs . . . and championing their everyday lives (and opinions) over the din of politicians and pundit-class puffery.”
Owen Jones, author of "The Establishment (and How They Get Away with It)" | Guardian (UK)
“Best book of 2014 . . . . In a determined effort to win public acquiescence, if not active support, for austerity, both the government and its media apologists have tried to hide the human impact of slash-and-burn economics. Mary O’Hara’s superb Austerity Bites strips bare the reality of what Osbornomics means for human beings and, crucially, she gives a platform to voices that are otherwise unheard and deliberately ignored.”
Disability & Society
Austerity Bites is a book brimming with anger at the multiple injustices in the United Kingdom and how the current austerity programme is underpinning and exacerbating these inequalities.”
Lisa Mckenzie, London School of Economics and Political Science, author of “Getting By” | Sociology
“One of the best critiques I have ever read of how ‘WongaLand,’ the profiteering by money lenders and pawn shops, has caused massive financial burdens and hardships for the poorest families whilst making massive profits for the businesses.”
Jeremy Seabrook, independent researcher | Sociology
“A fine record of how it feels to be among those who have been selected to pay the highest price for a crisis they had no part in producing. . . . O’Hara casts an unblinking look upon the desolation wrought by the rehabilitation of a system which is no longer afraid to demonstrate its basic values; which have little to do either with the fine words we offer up to the world about liberty, democracy, and choice, or with the ideals of justice and fair play which we still, quaintly, claim as our most distinctive characteristics.”
Melissa Benn | Guardian (UK)
“Should be required reading for every MP, peer, councillor, civil servant and commentator. The fury and sense of powerlessness that so many people feel at government policy beam out of every page.”
Simon Duffy | Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform
“O’Hara’s book strips away the rhetoric to reveal the truth. The United Kingdom is not the land of fairness; it’s a fearful place, where the heaviest burdens fall on the weakest.”
Professor the Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett
“O’Hara has written a powerful and vivid account of the regressive and harmful impact of public spending cuts, which gives voice to those who are suffering. Read it and be angry. Pass it on. Send a copy to your MP. To echo one of her interviewees: those in power need to listen.”
Danny Dorling | University of Oxford
“Traveling around the country interviewing people allowed O’Hara to harness firsthand accounts of the fallout of cuts in the United Kingdom. Austerity Bites brings together many poignant stories of people affected by the first impact of the coalition government’s choice to impose social austerity on Britain.”
Janine Gibson | Editor-in-Chief, Guardian US
“O’Hara’s mission is to give voice to those experiencing hardship or injustice who are rarely heard. She travelled the United Kingdom for a year to bear witness to the effects of Austerity Britain, and we should all pay attention to the result.”
Robin Ince
“An uncomfortable but necessary read.”
Josie Long | writer, activist, and comedian
“This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the great human cost of austerity. Read it, get angry, and get active.”
David Robinson, OBE, Founder of Community Links
“A thoroughly authentic, fair but passionate account of a Britain that we at Community Links know only too well. It’s a powerful story, too little heard and understood, but brilliantly told. I hope you will send a copy to the Prime Minister.”
Contents

Foreword by Mark Thomas

Foreword by Mark Blyth

Preface to the paperback edition

Introduction

Money’s too tight to mention

The big squeeze

Welcome to ‘Wongaland’

Work maketh the person

All work and no pay

Bearing the brunt

A life lived in fear is a life half lived

Conclusion

Afterword to the paperback edition

For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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