“Extracts from the UN report on poverty in GB by Professor Philip Alston,
16 Nov 2018
• 14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line,1 and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials.
• For almost one in every two children to be poor in twenty-first century Britain is not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one.
• The Government has remained determinedly in a state of denial. British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline.
• In England, homelessness is up 60% since 2010, rough sleeping is up 134%.
In-work poverty is increasingly common and almost 60% of those in poverty in the UK are in families where someone works.
• Low wages, insecure jobs, and zero hour contracts mean that even at record unemployment there are still 14 million people in poverty.
• One pastor said “The majority of people using our food bank are in work…. Nurses and teachers are accessing food banks.”
• The costs of austerity have fallen disproportionately upon the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities.
• The Equality and Human Rights Commission forecasts that another 1.5 million more children will fall into poverty between 2010 and 2021/22 as a result of the changes to benefits and taxes, a 10% increase from 31% to 41%. Sanctions against parents can have unintended consequences on their children.
The experience of the United Kingdom, especially since 2010, underscores the conclusion that poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so. Resources were available to the Treasury at the last budget that could have transformed the situation of millions of people living in poverty, but the political choice was made to fund tax cuts for the wealthy instead.”