Danny Dorling

Interview with Danny Dorling

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All that is Solid, published by Allen Lane, £20.00

What was your motivation for writing a book about housing?

One reason was to get more people interested in what's going on in society, particularly those who are on average income or those who are doing quite well. In general they are not bothered about many things, but they are bothered about housing.

Unemployment affects only a small proportion of the population, but the difficulty of paying the rent, of paying the mortgage, affects about 90 percent of people - including people who've actually managed to buy a house outright.

Divide and rule: Osborne's Autumn Statement

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In his first autumn statement, on 29 November 2010, George Osborne, then aged 39, announced the detail of the economic measures that would begin to polarise Britain. Housing benefit for people just five years younger than him would no longer be paid if they lived alone. That was just one of dozens of vindictive polices aimed at the poor, the young and everyone else who had less power.

In 2011, the year that followed his first pronouncements, there were major riots. Research using data collected over the course of the last century has shown that riots in Europe have been more common whenever there have been cuts of this kind.

A budget, an autumn statement and another budget further on, and on 5 December 2012, 41 year old George delivered his third autumn statement. If anything he had hardened his attitudes with a little aging.

The geography of poverty

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The recent riots and looting have provoked a fresh wave of demonisation of so-called "feral" young people in Britain's cities. Carl Lee and Danny Dorling examine the reality of life in a society which surrounds those in poverty with commodities they can never afford to own

On 4 March 1941 the London Times reported on an "epidemic" of looting in the aftermath of bombing raids over the city. In that same year 4,584 looting cases were processed by London courts alone.

Seventy years later, following the riots in England this August, the calls to mend what David Cameron has termed our "broken society" - usually couched in terms of better parenting and more discipline in schools - have a hollow ring when held up against the historical record.

Why not Sheffield?

Clearing the poor away

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With the poorest set to suffer most from cuts, Danny Dorling looks at the damage the spending review will do to the lives of millions.

The comprehensive spending review announced the start of a new era of engineered social polarisation: a further separation of the lives, hopes, homes and chances of rich and poor.

One of the first announcements was that new tenants of council and other social housing will now have to pay at least 80 percent of market prices in rent. At one stroke millions of low paid families are to be excluded from living in hundreds of towns, cities and villages where they no longer earn enough to "deserve" to be.

Brutal budget to entrench inequality

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The first budget of the "progressive" coalition government saw George Osborne promise massive cuts for the poorest in society while offering tax relief for businesses, writes Danny Dorling.

George Osborne - flanked by two Liberal Democrats - spoke with the confidence that you would expect of a man with the pedigree of aristocracy. David Cameron had positioned himself behind Osborne so that the camera could not see him as the chancellor gave out the bad news. Thus "Dave" was nowhere to be seen as the axe was wielded across the welfare state, or when it was announced that VAT was to be increased to 20 percent or that poor pregnant women would have the special benefits being paid to them cut. Dave's wife is pregnant.

Who will pay the price for the crisis?

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While politicians clearly have no idea of how to solve the economic crisis unemployment continues to rise across Britain. But where is it having the most impact? Danny Dorling argues that it is the young - "Thatcher's grandchildren" - who will bear the brunt of the recession.

How government reacts to a crisis is revealing. The initial reaction of the British government to the credit crunch was concern for those who initially appeared to have most to lose - those with savings in banks. The reaction was not carefully calculated or well thought out; it was no capitalist conspiracy; it was a reaction replicated around the rich world by exhausted looking finance ministers who knew their advisers were telling them they had no clue as to what would happen next.

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