My first post on here was an attempt to summarise a 2 week visit by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights – or Philip Alston for short.
His final report was released today.
A day before Brits take to the polls and vote in the European elections.
It also seems that the DWP, perhaps in anticipation of the slaughtering Alston has given them, decided to buy an advert in the Metro stating UNIVERSAL CREDIT was WORKING for EVERYONE.
Alston had this to say about the DWP:
“It might seem to some observers that the department of work and pensions has been tasked with designing a digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse, made infamous by Charles Dickens.”
A quick recap.
Alston toured round the UK (Glasgow, Newcastle, Belfast, Cardiff, Jaywick and London) and actually MET people experiencing poverty.
He didn’t just have a quick check at the statistics – something the Tories love to do.
His findings were based on statistics, real people’s stories and consultations with organisations and charities supporting people in poverty.
However, in true Conservative fashion, the government have completely denied the findings of the report.
Amber Rudd (the work and pensions secretary) has even gone as far to lodge a FORMAL COMPLAINT.
I’m sure the UN is quaking in its boots.
As always, they cite record lows of unemployment – nearly 60% of people in poverty live in a household where someone works.
I wrote about why this means relatively nothing here.
Theresa May argued back in November that since 2010, 1 MILLION fewer people are in ABSOLUTE poverty because of the government.
Bear in mind 2010 was right after the financial crisis which the bankers caused and the Coalition government made US bail them out and imposed continuous austerity which has actually seen RELATIVE POVERTY rise to levels not seen since the 20th Century.
So yes, well done Mrs May.
They’ve also claimed Britain is so great that’s why so many people emigrate here:
“The UN’s own data shows the UK is one of the happiest places in the world to live, and other countries have come here to find out more about how we support people to improve their lives,” a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said. (Source: Guardian)
Ironically, it’s all these people coming here for a better life that have really pissed the Home Office AND the “majority” of Brits off.
SO, WHAT CAN WE TAKE AWAY FROM THE FINAL REPORT?
Facts and figures
- 14 million people in Britain live in poverty
- 5 million live BELOW the poverty line
- By 2021, 40% of British children will be living in relative poverty
- Homelessness rose 60% between 2011 – 2017
UNIVERSAL CREDIT is still unfit for purpose.
The government has finally (too little too late) acknowledged UNIVERSAL CREDIT is not working.
It’s decided not to transfer 3 MILLION people over to UC just yet, and admitted there IS a link to a RISE in FOODBANK use.
Why is it so bad?
When people file a claim there’s a 5 WEEK waiting period. As the report points out this can stretch up to 12 WEEKS.
How many of you reading this could last 5 or 12 weeks with no income whatsoever? Unless you’re lucky enough to have the financial support of friends or family, this is only going to push you into debt.
For many on low incomes, who may already be in crisis, this pushes them further into poverty.
In response, the government has said no one needs to wait as they can claim ADVANCE PAYMENTS.
These are essentially loans from the DWP and the money is then deducted off future payments. Around 60% of a UC payment can be deducted to cover the debt caused by advanced payments.
So people can be pushed further again into poverty to pay off DWP debt.
There are also lots of punitive sanctions attached despite no real evidence that sanctions work
Not to mention some women have been forced into sex work for the first time or had to return to it because of said sanctions and the wait time for payments.
Oh and it’s all online. This has created a digital barrier for women, older people, those who do not speak English and people with disabilities.
WOMEN AND MINORITIES
I could write about this all day so I’m going to try and sum this up briefly.
Women are more likely to be in poverty than men because they make up 90% of single parents, are unemployed or in part-time work because of caring responsibilities, or when in full time work affected by the gender pay gap.
You can read more about austerity and women here.
Over half the households living in poverty in the UK are households where someone has a disability. They are set to lose £11,000 on average by 2021-22.
Black and Asian households in the lowest fifth of incomes will experience the largest average drop in living standards, about 20%. In England and Scotland, changes to public spending from 2010–2011 to 2021–2022 will fall the hardest on Black households.
Despite popular belief, asylum seekers are banned from working and the majority of state benefits. The majority of asylum seekers live on £5 a day.
Since the Tories came into power after the financial crisis their seemingly only goals have been to vilify immigrants and destroy social security.
They’ve pitted poor against even poorer.
Poverty is violating our human rights and Brexit is only likely to make this even worse.