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Austerity Kills: The Sad, Sick Truth About Right-Wing Economics’ Body Count

August 9, 2015 in Blogs

By Mary O’Hara, Salon

Conservative economics wrecks lives and destroys people: Just look at the impact of brutal UK austerity policies.

Reprinted with permission from Austerity Bites: A Journey to the Sharp End of Cuts in the UK, by Mary O’Hara, © 2015 Policy Press at the University of Bristol. All rights reserved.

Austerity pushes people to the edge.

“This government will not cut [the] deficit in a way that hurts those we most need to help, that divides the country, or that undermines the spirit and ethos of our public  services” —David Cameron, in a speech in June 2010.

“If austerity were tested like a medication in a clinical trial,it would have been stopped long ago, given its deadly side effects…. One need not be an economic ideologue – we certainly aren’t – to recognize that the price of austerity can be calculated in human lives.” —David Stuckler and physician Sanjay Basu, authors of “The body economic: Why austerity kills,” 2013.

The mental strain unleashed by cuts:

Helpline caller number 1: ‘David’ is getting more anxious and more agitated the more calls he makes to the suicide helpline. He has mental health problems. He tells the volunteer manning the phone that he is finding it difficult to cope. He is terrified. His benefits ‘situation’ is causing him enormous distress. It is early March 2013 when he first calls after being told that from April he would have to pay the ‘Bedroom Tax’.There is no way he can find the money from his incapacity benefits. He doesn’t eat for days at a time.The benefits office doesn’t seem to take any notice of what he is telling them. He can’t sleep. It is the end of March.The call log ends.

Helpline caller number 2: ‘Geoff ’, a father who lives with his partner, their young son and her parents, talks of how the family has lost their home because they fell into debt after benefits changes and delays to payments. They now have mounting, unmanageable debts and no home of their own, he explains. He has made several suicide attempts.

Helpline caller number 3: ‘Alison’ rings asking if the helpline knows …read more


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