So, for the last two weeks the United Nations SpecialRapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (also known as Philip Alston) hasbeen investigating the impact of poverty in the UK.
Alston toured the country speaking to those most affectedby Tory imposed austerity measures. On Friday he released a 24 page report onwhat he found.
To quote him directly:
‘In the area of poverty-related policy, the evidence pointsto the conclusion that the driving force has not been economic but rather acommitment to achieving radical social re-engineering.’
The report basically lays out that since 2010 theConservative party has successfully destroyed social security in the UK andessentially blamed those in poverty for their own circumstances. Theycontinually quote high levels of employment as evidence of the success of theirpolicies.
However, unlike the Tories, Alston took the time to travelaround the UK and actually listened to those living in poverty.
Some of the main things to take away from the report are:
- 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty
- 4 million of those are 50% below the poverty line
- 1.5 million are destitute
- Child poverty has increased to levels not seen since the 1990s with 1 in 2 children living in poverty
- Women,black and ethnic minorities, single parents, people with disabilities and older people are unfairly affected by austerity (this is in violation of numerous international treaties signed by the UK)
In case anyone needs reminding at this point, the UK is theFIFTH RICHEST country in the world.
Now, the Tories have replied to the report or rather denied the report. They say there is no extreme poverty, citing the highest records of unemployment ever and that household incomes have never been higher.
Others have told the UN it should concentrate on thirdworld countries rather than the UK (do I smell racism?).
You can watch one of them outright deny the report here:
But being in a job doesn’t mean you aren’t living inpoverty.
In work poverty
Around 60% of people living in poverty in the UK are fromfamilies where at least one person works full time. The national minimum wage in the UK is is in no way near enough to live on – especially if you are trying to support a family.
The Trussell Trust (who run the countries foodbank network)have said that 1 in 6 people using foodbanks are in work. Again, we are theworld FIFTH RICHEST country, the fact we even have foodbanks is a completedisgrace.
So, for the Tories to argue that employment is at a highrecord and therefore poverty is a non-issue shows just how out of touch theyare with the country they claim to be doing a good job of running. Britishsociety is full of low paid and insecure work, with benefits such as UniversalCredit forcing people back into work who are in no way ready to do so.
In case you didn’t know about Universal Credit – it’s probablythe biggest failure of Tory welfare reform that sees peoples benefits rolledinto one with a 5 week delay in payments (right before Christmas).
They claim this reflects the traditional monthly wage and will help people back into work as a result.
But how many people these days are still paid monthly? Manypeople (particularly in low paid jobs) are paid weekly, or fortnightly andbenefits have always been that way too. Simply rolling it all into a monthlypayment with little or no support to help people budget is obviously going tocause issues.
In areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out therehas been an increase in the use of food banks (around 44%), and the benefititself is more about forcing people back into work rather than helping them.
You can read more about it here, and also sign a weepetition if you’re like me and think it’s a load of shite:
Alston also described welfare reforms as sexist:
‘If you got a group of misogynists together in a room and said “how can we make a system that works for men but not women?” they wouldn’t have come up with too many other ideas than what’s in place.’
Let’s be honest, it probably was as group of misogynists in a room deciding these policies.
Now throw Brexit into the austerity mix and again, it’s themost vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society that are going to take thebiggest hit – that’s because let’s be honest any economic savings we need tomake aren’t gonna come from those big boys at the top.
Again, women, children, BAME, older people and people withdisabilities are going to be royally fucked over.
Basically, what Alston has found out (which a lot of usalready know) is that the UK government is completely disconnected with the lived reality of a whopping 14 million people in the UK who are literally choosingbetween paying rent or feeding their kids.
Austerity is a choice made by the government, it is not necessaryand has not in any way improved the lives of ordinary working people inBritain.
Poverty actually costs the country £78 billion a year inmeasures to reduce it – but imagine if the government upped wages, attempted tofix the housing crisis, gave workers more protections against insecure jobs andmaybe actually taxed big money.
Maybe that’s just too much to ask though?
If you’ve made it this far, thank you and as always, Up The Tories xo