Cover broke

The All Saints, Lewes, BN7

Sat 13th May 2023 6:50PM


A dozen years into austerity, statistical warning lights are flashing to suggest a return to types of deprivation that we once imagined we had consigned to the history books. In the decade up to the pandemic, the official count of rough sleepers doubled. Recorded malnutrition in hospital patients has tripled. Dependence on food banks is up by an order of magnitude. Amid rising prices and falling confidence, all the forecasts are for such numbers getting even worse.
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 imagination. In this talk, 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. He will speak about cold, hunger, homelessness, ill-health, disability, debt, work and the migrant experience.
Among the star cast of journalists whose work he alludes to, several have first-hand experience of the issues raised. This urgent collection restores some badly needed empathy to the public discussion, blending powerful human stories with analysis of the policies that have led us to where we are now – and the reforms we urgently need.


Tom Clark is a fellow at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and a contributing editor at Prospect, the leading monthly magazine he edited from 2016 to 2021. He previously spent a decade at The Guardian, specialising in social affairs and economics, and rising to be the paper’s chief leader writer. Before journalism, he had spells working in Whitehall and at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Clark’s 2014 book Hard Times: Inequality, Recession, Aftermath, co-written with Anthony Heath, made sense of the fallout from the financial crisis with the same mix of human stories and analysis that gives Broke such clout. It was hailed as a must-read by everyone from Thomas Piketty to Gordon Brown.


A Q&A Session will follow.


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