After reading English at university, Neil had a variety of lecturing jobs in England and abroad before returning to Cornwall to teach English in schools. Since retiring, he has worked as a volunteer advocate for adults with a learning disability. He goes into day centres, helps to run a drop-in advocacy session and visits people in their homes.
That work led to Neil's book, Austerity’s Victims, which was published in 2018. The book aims to show how adults with a learning disability have been affected by UK government austerity measures since 2010 and to bring their situation into the open. It concentrates on five men in Cornwall with a learning disability, comparing their spending with the Minimum Income Standard of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as well as UK and Cornwall medians. Their spending averages 48% of the UK median, 55% of the Cornwall median and 71% of the Minimum Income Standard. The book highlights not just relative poverty but other problems for the men: cuts in support hours at home and in day centre attendance; loss of benefits; and, obviously, poor quality of life, with loneliness a major issue.
Since the book was published, much of Neil’s advocacy work has concentrated on supporting people through the benefits process, in several instances all the way to the tribunal stage. Two of those cases have been for men figuring prominently in Austerity’s Victims.