United Nations Report on UK Poverty

The following is the Summary of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights following his visit to the UK.

“The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, undertook a mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 5 to 16 November 2018.

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. Policies of austerity introduced in 2010 continue largely unabated, despite the tragic social consequences. Close to 40 per cent of children are predicted to be living in poverty by 2021. 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 social safety net has been badly damaged by drastic cuts to local authorities’ budgets, which have eliminated many social services, reduced policing services, closed libraries in record numbers, shrunk community and youth centres and sold off public spaces and buildings. 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 uncaring ethos. A booming economy, high employment and a budget surplus have not reversed austerity, a policy pursued more as an ideological than an economic agenda.”

Needless to say, the government was not impressed. A DWP spokesperson said: “This is a barely believable documentation of Britain, based on a tiny period of time spent here. It paints a completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty.

All the evidence shows that full-time work is the best way to boost your income and quality of life.”

We believe that the full report is essential reading for anybody looking for an independent, alternative view of the impact of the current government’s policies on the fabric of UK society.


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