Thoughts and reports on inequality, from disability to gender

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Clay figures made by artist Liz Crow to symbolise the human cost of austerity. Photo: Matthew Fessey
Under austerity, deprivation in the UK is becoming normalised. Don’t vote for any more of it
By Frances Ryan - 06 May 8:41

Austerity was a choice and one not born from economic reasoning but political ideology: a desire to dismantle the benefit system and with it, the state.

From the Work Programme to the bedroom tax, there is a lot this government has got wrong. Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty
The Disability Audit: the eight coalition policies that have hit disabled people
By Frances Ryan - 29 April 11:20

After looking in detail at all the changes to the benefits system in the last five years, it’s only possible to come to one conclusion: the coalition’s attitude towards disabled people has been pointlessly cruel.

People protesting the bedroom tax outside the High Court in London in February 2014. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty
What has happened to the disabled people affected by the Coalition’s welfare reforms?
By Frances Ryan - 07 April 16:03

Frances Ryan revisits previous interviewees to find out how they are coping with the bedroom tax and the changes to benefits like the Disability Living Allowance.

It is shameful that Labour buys into the rhetoric that people who need welfare are scum
By Frances Ryan - 19 March 14:02

The Labour party is missing the opportunity to stand up proudly for low-paid workers and those who rely on state support.

Shut up about Ed Miliband's two kitchens: if you kick champagne socialists out, champagne Tories will conquer
By Frances Ryan - 13 March 15:29

What matters is not privilege, but what you choose to do with it.

The martyrdom of Tania Clarence: when will the press stop conveying disability as worse than death?
By Frances Ryan - 09 March 14:48

Ignoring the history of mental illness of the mother who smothered her three disabled children to death feeds the wider cultural claim that disability is a nightmarish circumstance.

Mind the gap: how charities are mopping up after the government’s failure to care
By Frances Ryan - 05 February 9:29

Under austerity, charities are regularly having to substitute for government. We live in a twenty-first century Britain where poorer citizens are back to relying on handouts to live.

James Blunt on stage in 2013. Photo: Getty
The thing about privilege, James Blunt, is that those who have it can’t see it
By Frances Ryan - 19 January 17:51

It’s not being a “classist gimp”, as the singer termed Labour MP Chris Bryant, to point out that inequality has played a part in how people end up in positions of power in this country.

Charity cases: an assembly at Eton College. Photo: Getty
Forget Tristram Hunt’s tinkering: private schools should have their tax breaks scrapped altogether
By Frances Ryan - 25 November 13:47

Private schools allow the privileged to buy their way into every structure of power in this country with barely a whisper from the rest of us. Why give them tax relief as charities when so many do next to nothing to earn it?   

Ched Evans playing for Sheffield United in 2012. Photo: Getty
The “ruined lives” of Oscar Pistorius and Ched Evans: why do men matter more than women?
By Frances Ryan - 14 October 11:05

The narrative of the fallen abuser is all too familiar: the ruined life that matters is the man’s rather than the woman he raped, hit or killed.

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The Tories know cutting the benefit cap will push children into poverty – they’re doing it anyway
By Frances Ryan - 29 September 11:03

It is very easy to arbitrarily cut benefits rather than do anything about why people might need them.

One in seven families with disabled children are going without meals. Photo: Getty
Indignation at stories of “rejected” disabled children masks the harm done by government cuts
By Frances Ryan - 26 August 17:09

Cases like that of “Baby Gammy” or the adoptive mother who allegedly turned down a baby because it was born with a disability are welcome distractions from the bigger, deeper problems faced by parents and disabled children under austerity.

A man in a wheelchair makes his way down a cobbled street in Rome. Photo: Getty
Poor doors? If you’re disabled, you’ll know society’s segregation doesn’t end there
By Frances Ryan - 11 August 14:06

When faced with steps, it is not the need to use a wheelchair that makes the person disabled – it is the fact no one has thought to build a ramp.

Campaigners demonstrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice against the Government's reform to limit state benefit on February 21, 2014 in London, England. Photo: Getty Images
Social media means the voices of the disabled can no longer be ignored by those in power
By Frances Ryan - 07 August 16:20

The coalition government’s harsh welfare cuts have been met by a surge in activism among disabled people, who have found that social media has given them new clout to fight for their rights.

David Ruffley MP speaking in the House of Commons.
What David Ruffley's resignation tells us about attitudes in power to domestic violence
By Frances Ryan - 29 July 8:31

The Conservative MP will stand down at the 2015 election after accepting a police caution for a common assault on his former partner earlier this year.

Nicky Morgan voted against same-sex marriage partly because of her Christian faith. Photo: Getty
Why does an MP’s moral code matter more than anyone else’s?
By Frances Ryan - 16 July 15:36

Faith doesn’t justify voting for inequality or taking the rights of minorities.

Crossbench peer and former paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson. Photo: Getty
Tanni Grey-Thompson on assisted dying: “People come up to me and say ‘I wouldn’t want to live if I was like you’”
By Frances Ryan - 15 July 11:17

The crossbench peer talks to Frances Ryan about the debate surrounding the UK’s first piece of legislation to address the right-to-die, and her concerns that it will put pressure on vulnerable people to “take the next step”.

Stuff magazine is dropping the scantily-clad cover stars. Photo:  Joe Loong on Flickr, via CC
Lads’ mags are starting to drop the scantily-clad cover stars – sexism is over now, right?
By Frances Ryan - 03 July 10:39

Loaded magazine has relaunched without topless cover stars, while gadget mag Stuff has dropped the scantily-clad girls, too. Is the “buy a magazine, get some misogyny for free” idea finally dead?

Overcrowded hostels and expensive B&Bs can lead to people sleeping on the streets. Photo: Getty
Life in limbo: what it’s like to be one of Britain’s hidden homeless
By Frances Ryan - 19 June 12:41

The threat of people losing their home if they rent is at its highest level in more than a decade.

A pupil raises a hand to answer a question in class. Photo: Getty
Grammar schools widen the gap between rich and poor. Why are we still surprised by this?
By Frances Ryan - 29 May 15:14

Meritocracy – embodied in the grammar school system – is concerned with achieving equality between equals and permitting inequality between un-equals.

“It's not only steps that keep us out”: mainstream feminism must stop ignoring disabled women
By Frances Ryan - 20 May 16:15

In matters of sex, sexuality and political campaigning, the resurgence of mainstream feminism overlooks disabled women, who are left with the “half-life” of slicing their identity.

Falinge estate in Rochdale. Photo: Getty
Benefits cuts: what is life like on the breadline, one year on?
By Frances Ryan - 01 April 8:24

“I don’t buy into the idea that being on benefits is a lifestyle choice,” says one claimant. “I’d much prefer to be in my old £38k job, with a life of hope ahead of me, instead of worrying about how to make half a loaf of bread an onion and half a bottle of ketchup into an evening meal.”

A job centre plus. Photo: Getty
Immoral or incompetent? With the DWP, it’s no longer a choice
By Frances Ryan - 05 March 9:42

What do they think happens when you cut off someone’s source of food, rent and heating for three months?

While waiting for their claim to be decided, people are losing out on support
Personal Independence Payments: a failing system is trapping disabled people without benefits
By Frances Ryan - 17 February 13:34

Since the new Personal Independence Payments began to replace Disability Living Allowance, fewer than one in six people who applied have had their claims decided. While assessments drag out over months, bills still have to be paid and food still has to be bought.

The Big Benefits Row: Was it ever going to change anyone's mind?
By Frances Ryan - 04 February 11:04

Perhaps if Channel 5's dramatic “debate” about benefits had given less time to attention-seekers like Edwina Currie and Katie Hopkins, it would have been a better conversation about an important issue.

Campaigns against sex-selective abortion are misogyny disguised as feminism
By Frances Ryan - 16 January 15:17

We should be asking why women feel pressured to abort female foetuses, not descending into an anti-choice panic about sex-selective abortion without evidence.

If we spent less time thinking about breasts, we could probably end sexism
Why having a woman’s body under patriarchy is a job in itself
By Frances Ryan - 10 January 15:50

"Deodorant for breasts" is the latest addition to the shame cycle of having a female body.

Anti-abortionists need to recognise the lived experiences of women and the disabled
By Frances Ryan - 29 December 10:33

Right-wing commentators keep arguing for a tighter abortion law in the UK, ignoring the voices of those who would have to live with the consequences.

A South Wales Police anti-rape campaign.
Why do police so often get it wrong with anti-rape campaigns?
By Frances Ryan - 13 December 17:28

Police forces still seem to find it difficult to say that rape might be the fault of the men who decide to rape.

5 benefit changes the government don't want you to know about
By Frances Ryan - 29 November 11:43

Threats to take away children from families is a new low for the coalition government's war on benefit claimants.

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