Damning verdict on state of extreme poverty in the UK

Section: Policy into PracticeType: News Item Date Published: 22nd May 2019

Special Rapporteur claims "glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed".

The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, visited the UK from 5 to 16 November 2018. This was to report to the UN’s Human Rights Council on the extent to which the UK Government’s policies relating to extreme poverty are consistent with its human rights obligations and to offer constructive recommendations.

The report notes that, although the United Kingdom is the world’s fifth largest economy, one fifth of its population (14 million people) live in poverty, and 1.5 million of them experienced destitution in 2017. Close to 40 per cent of children are predicted to be living in poverty by 2021.

In his report (this link will take you away from our website) the Special Rappoteur says: “Food banks have proliferated; homelessness and rough sleeping have increased greatly; tens of thousands of poor families must live in accommodation far from their schools, jobs and community networks; life expectancy is falling for certain groups; and the legal aid system has been decimated.

The bottom line is that much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.”

Responding to the report, Anela Anwar, Convenor of the Poverty Alliance, a network of organisations working together to combat poverty and inequality in Scotland said: “This report lays bare the scandalous reality of poverty in the UK. Our social security system should be an anchor that helps us stay afloat during difficult times. But as the report makes clear, the introduction of Universal Credit, the benefits freeze and the punitive sanctions regime have pulled people into poverty.

While the bulk of the policies driving poverty originate from the UK Government, the Scottish Government can make more ambitious use of its powers, for example by bringing forward the introduction of an income supplement to lift families out of poverty.”

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