“Mary O'Hara’s mission is to give voice to those experiencing hardship or injustice who are rarely heard. She travelled the UK for a year to bear witness to the effects of Austerity in Britain and we should all pay attention to the result.”
Janine Gibson, Editor in Chief of Buzzfeed UK & former Editor in Chief, Guardian US
Owen Jones' Book of The Year 2014: The Guardian
Paperback with Foreword by Prof. Mark Blyth
"Austerity Bites should be required reading for every MP, peer, councillor, civil servant and commentator. The fury and sense of powerlessness that so many people feel at government policy beam out of every page."
Melissa Benn: The Guardian
International Columnist of the Year: Southern California Journalism Awards 2017 & 2018
SILVER WINNER: International Feature of the Year 2017: Los Angeles Press Club
Mary O'Hara is an award-winning social affairs journalist. She writes about health, poverty and social justice for publications including The Guardian and Observer. Since 2014 she has been a rapporteur on disability for the EU Commission.
Mary is also a producer on the podcast, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.
Mary was educated at St. Louise's Comprehensive on the Falls Road in Belfast and at Magdalene College Cambridge where she read social and political science. In 2010 she was an Alistair Cooke Fulbright Scholar at UC Berkeley, California where she conducted research on press coverage of mental illness and suicide. She is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and is currently media liaison for the Southern California Fulbright Association. She is trustee of the charity, Arts Emergency and also co-founder and chair of The David Nobbs Memorial Trust.
Mary is currently based in LA and divides her time between the US and Europe. She writes a monthly column for The Guardian: Lesson From America and is working on her next book - 'The Shame Game' - on stigma and poverty due to be published by Policy Press in the UK and The University of Chicago Press in the US in February 2020.
About the Book
After coming to power in May 2010, the Coalition government in the United Kingdom embarked on a drastic programme of cuts to public spending and introduced a raft of austerity measures that had profoundly damaging effects on much of the population. This timely and apposite book by award-winning journalist Mary O’Hara chronicles the true impact of austerity on people at the sharp end, based on her ‘real-time’ 12-month journey around the country when the most radical reforms were being rolled out in 2012 and 2013. Drawing on hundreds of hours of compelling first-person interviews, with a broad spectrum of people ranging from homeless teenagers, older job-seekers, pensioners, charity workers, employment advisers and youth workers, as well as an extensive body of research and reports, the book explores the grim reality of living under the biggest shakeup of the welfare state in 60 years. A ‘must-read’ book, Austerity Bites seeks to dispel any notion that “we are all in this together” and offers an alternative to the dominant and simplistic narrative that we inhabit a country of “skivers versus strivers.
eight long years of austerity
Austerity continues to blight the UK in 2018 with councils going bankrupt and the most vulnerable at risk of losing vital services. Through her writing and journalism Mary continues to expose the colossally harmful effects of this grossly misguided set of policies - especially on the most vulnerable. In a new book: The Violence of Austerity, edited by David Whyte and Vickie Cooper, a number of writers including Mary document in a series of essays the most damning evidence of the brutality of austerity including on physical and mental health.