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Second Class Citizens

The treatment of disabled people in austerity Britain

Author: Stef Benstead

Are disabled people second class citizens in modern Britain? Despite severe criticisms from the United Nations the UK Government has continued to reject claims that its austerity policies have targeted disabled people and other minority groups.

In this authoritative book, Stef Benstead explores these competing claims against the background of the development of the welfare state, the campaign for disability rights and the economics of austerity.


Peter Beresford, Professor of Citizen Participation at the University of Essex and Co-Chair of Shaping Our Lives:

“Second Class Citizens provides the definitive verdict on government welfare reform, the UK’s shame. It’s a policy against the evidence, against human rights and most of all against disabled people. Here the truth gap is filled with the real voices of disabled people.”

Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty:

“This is a benchmark study of the treatment of disabled people under austerity. A hugely well researched and comprehensive overview, which provides both the ‘long view’ of how disabled people have fared within the social security system from the origins of the Welfare State through to the current day. It is illuminated by numerous powerful personal stories illustrating the human impact of austerity, and a devastating critique of the shift from a positive vision of social security to today's welfare system based on a culture of blame and the myth of dependency. A must read!”

Baroness Jane Campbell, Patron of Just Fair (UK), founder and co-director of Not Dead Yet – UK, and chair of the Independent Living Strategy Group:

“This is essential reading for a more balanced understanding of what disabled people face when caught within the complexity of the benefit/entitlement trap.”