Just Managing? What it Means for the Families of Austerity Britain

Just Managing? What it Means for the Families of Austerity Britain Mark O'Brien and Paul Kyprianou
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These are the stories that bring the statistics of austerity and inequality to life. The dignity, work ethic and stoicism of the families in this book should haunt every politician and media commentator who has painted the false picture of a 'benefits culture' and 'shirkers and scroungers'; this illuminating book should be required reading for them.
—Kate Pickett, author (with Richard Wilkinson) of The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone

A brilliant book collecting together the evidence on just how out of touch Westminster government has become. Powerfully demonstrating why many families can no longer look forward to a safe future, and how they are coming to realise that inequality and the disdain of the wealthy is to blame
—Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography of the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford

The 'just about managing'. 'Hardworking families'. 'Alarm-clock Britain'. In recent years British political discourse has been filled with these slogans, as politicians claim to speak on behalf of families who are in work, but struggling to get by. This book allows us to hear from some of these families directly.

At a time when the impact of austerity is more relevant than ever, Just Managing? cuts through the debates and sloganeering to give some of the real people behind the headlines and statistics a chance to tell their stories. It tracks the lives of thirty working families in Liverpool over one year, as they struggle to manage on incomes at or around the National Minimum Wage. Their accounts are placed within the economic and political context that has shaped their experiences and that of millions of other working families across the country.

This book is required reading for anyone seeking to understand what life is like at the sharp end of 'austerity Britain’.

Just Managing? What it Means for the Families of Austerity Britain
Mark O’Brien and Paul Kyprianou | May 2017
244 | 24 colour illustrations | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
Open Reports Series, vol. 5 | ISSN: 2399-6668 (Print); 2399-6676 (Online)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783743230
ISBN Hardback: 9781783743247
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783743254
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783743261
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783743278
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0112
BIC subject codes: KCR (Welfare economics), KCP (Political economy), JHBC (Social research and statistics), JHBL (Sociology: work and labour); BISAC: SOC045000 (Social Science / Poverty & Homelessness), SOC053000 (Social Science / Regional Studies), SOC050000 (Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity), POL024000 (Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy), POL029000 (Political Science / Public Policy / Social Policy)

You may also be interested in:


1. Understanding Poverty: Then and Now
2. The Getting By? Study

3. Money Matters
4. Working Life
5. Meeting Basic Needs
6. Home and Family Life

7. Family Views: ‘Who’s to Blame?’
8. Liars, Thieves and Honest Scousers

Appendix I: How the Research Was Conducted
Appendix II: Family Circumstances and Spending

Mark O'Brien
works as a researcher at the University of Liverpool. He has published widely in the areas of social inequality and social movements. Mark can be contacted at mtobrien@liv.ac.uk

Paul Kyprianou has worked for many years as a research consultant in Liverpool. He was a founder of Praxis, a Liverpool-based research company.

The life experiences reported in Just Managing? were told to community researchers as part of the 2014-15 Getting By? project, which was supported by the Liverpool City Council Action Group on Poverty. The study, conducted over one year, captured the experiences of thirty Liverpool families in which one or both parents were in low-paid employment. Using weekly diaries to track their income and spending, and giving regular in-depth interviews, they revealed the challenges they faced as they struggled to cope in their day-to-day lives.

The Getting By? project culminated in the creation of the gettingby.org.uk website, a dedicated YouTube channel, and in the publication of this report.