Julia Unwin is chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust. She is an influential author and commentator on public policy.
Julia Unwin’s book Why Fight Poverty? asks a provocative question. Calls to end poverty date back centuries. Even in prosperous modern times, despite the huge transformation of society, poverty has persisted. The challenge is getting harder because of changes in society, family structures and community patterns – and because of the negative emotions about poverty within a welfare state. The recent crisis seems set to leave us with an economy in which some may never work and there is little public sympathy for the poor. This book looks back at the struggle to end poverty and asks if it has been worth it. What would a poverty-free country be like? Julia Unwin concludes that we urgently need to resolve poverty, because it is costly, wasteful and risky, but that we can only create a strong, shared understanding of poverty and how to end it when we recognize that ‘they’ are people like ‘us’.
This book outlines the tragic waste poverty represents and why fighting it should be a top political priority. Although people differ over what causes poverty and how to reduce it, campaigners on all sides of the debate can learn something from the passionate contribution Julia Unwin offers in Why Fight Poverty? — Christian Guy, Director, The Centre for Social Justice
In this powerful and hard-hitting book, Julia Unwin challenges those who believe our current levels of poverty in the UK are acceptable and inevitable. Simplistic understandings of poverty coupled with our current attitudes and prejudices are blocking effective reform and human lives are wasted as a result. Unwin shows we can tackle this through a new social contract but only if we commit together to long-term and consistent solutions. An excellent book which will make a major contribution to help tackle the root causes of poverty in the UK today. — Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
This book makes a powerful case that we can eliminate poverty if we want to. It challenges widely held misconceptions of the poor. Everyone, of all shades of opinion, should read this and then work out how they can help to repair our fractured society. — Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, Senior Rabbi, West London Synagogue
A hugely important book, adding a new and vital dimension to the poverty debate. — Mary Riddell, columnist and political interviewer for the Daily Telegraph
Click the link below to listen to Julia Unwin being interviewed by Romesh Vaitilingam at the Festival of Economics.