“The government said it “completely disagreed” with Alston’s analysis. …”
Well, it would – wouldn’t it!
“The UK government has inflicted “great misery” on its people with “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies driven by a political desire to undertake social re-engineering rather than economic necessity, the United Nations poverty envoy has found.
Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, ended a two-week fact-finding mission to the UK with a stinging declaration that despite being the world’s fifth largest economy, levels of child poverty are “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster”.
About 14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials, he said, citing figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. He highlighted predictions that child poverty could rise by 7% between 2015 and 2022, possibly up to a rate of 40%.
“It is patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty,” he said, adding that compassion had been abandoned during almost a decade of austerity policies that had been so profound that key elements of the post-war social contract, devised by William Beveridge more than 70 years ago, had been swept away.
It took a UN envoy to hear how austerity is destroying lives | Aditya Chakrabortty
In a coruscating 24-page report, which will be presented to the UN human rights council in Geneva next year, the eminent human rights lawyer said that in the UK “poverty is a political choice”.
He told a press conference in London:
Austerity Britain was in breach of four UN human rights agreements relating to women, children, disabled people and economic and social rights. “If you got a group of misogynists in a room and said how can we make this system work for men and not for women they would not have come up with too many ideas that are not already in place,” he said.
The limit on benefits payments to only the first two children in a family was “in the same ball park” as China’s one-child policy because it punished people who had a third child.
Cuts of 50% to council budgets were slashing at Britain’s “culture of local concern” and “damaging the fabric” of society.
The middle classes would “find themselves living in an increasingly hostile and unwelcoming society because community roots are being broken”.
The government said it “completely disagreed” with Alston’s analysis. …”