Cover broke pb.

Over a dozen years into austerity, statistical warning lights are flashing to suggest a return to types of deprivation we once imagined we had consigned to history. In the decade up to the pandemic, the official count of rough sleepers and recorded malnutrition in hospital patients both doubled, while recourse to food banks rocketed by an order of magnitude.

And yet it has never been statistics but rather individual human stories – from the fictionalised accounts of Dickens to the faithful reporting of Orwell and Priestley – that have seared the reality of hard times into the public imagination. In Broke, Tom Clark assembles today’s masters of social reportage to go deep into the communities so often ignored by politicians, introducing us to those at the hardest end of the poverty crisis. Contributions from Jem Bartholomew, Cal Flyn, Dani Garavelli, Frances Ryan, Samira Shackle, Daniel Trilling and Jennifer Williams and a foreword by Kerry Hudson unflinchingly reveal the contemporary experience of cold, hunger, homelessness, disease, debt, disability, punishing work and an immigration system that makes people destitute by design.

With Joel Goodman’s photography bringing the characters to life, and some of the writers having had first-hand experience of the issues raised, Broke blends powerful human stories with analysis of the policies that have led us to this point – and the reforms we urgently need.

All royalties will be donated to Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network


“A programme for government, needed urgently.”

Peter Hoskin, Prospect

“A landmark book.”

Mark Aitken, Sunday Post

“Drawing on the testimony of those trapped in the quicksand of poverty, Broke is an overdue wake-up call for anyone who still thinks Britain is a normal, fair or ‘civilised’ country.”

Darren McGarvey, BBC Reith lecturer, Orwell Prize winner and author of Poverty Safari

“I grew up at a time when poverty was rife but governments of right and left were committed to its eradication. In this book, Tom Clark conducts an orchestra of experts to demonstrate that poverty is rife once again, and the only thing that’s been eradicated is government’s determination to deal with it.”

Alan Johnson, former Cabinet minister and author of the Orwell Prize-winning This Boy

“A devastating portrait of modern poverty, Broke is urgently reported and beautifully written, with humane and empathetic accounts of what it feels like to be caught in a 21st-century poverty trap. This collection of essays sets out in disturbing detail the true impact of a decade of austerity policies and should be required reading for politicians and policymakers.”

Amelia Gentleman, award-winning journalist and author of The Windrush Betrayal

“We often find it uncomfortable to listen to the voices of those who struggle without enough. Broke refuses us the consolation of false innocence and shows us what sort of society we have become. We should be ashamed but also take heart from the steadfastness, solidarity and resistance revealed.”

Giles Fraser, Anglican priest and panellist of BBC’s Moral Maze

“An important account of a real emergency and a moral crisis we ignore at our peril.”

Gordon Brown

Broke shows the human side of the shameful statistical record of destitution that austerity and the current cost-of-living crisis has brought to millions of Britons.”

New Statesman
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  • Paperback, 352 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785908293
  • 20 June 2024
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