I am shocked reading the 24 page UN report, uncovering the decline of standard of living in Britain. International news reports are suggesting a decline of British values & admiration. The British government has been held up in front of the world & comprehensively damned for the misery & chaos it has inflicted on its own people.
“Poverty is a political choice. the Conservative government deliberately increased poverty in the country for ideological reasons."
Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur ended a 2-week fact-finding mission with a stinging declaration that levels of poverty were “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity & an economic disaster”, even though the UK is the world’s 5th largest economy,
The financial crash of 2008 is still very evident. Even though it was mostly an American crisis, the UK was also at fault giving credit to those who couldn't pay it back & lacking bank regulations.
"British society is becoming “increasingly hostile” as its fabric is eroding."
“It is patently unjust & contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty,” he said, "Compassion had been abandoned during almost a decade of austerity policies that had been so profound that key elements of the postwar social contract, devised by William Beveridge more than 70 years ago, had been swept away."
There are 14,000,000 people in poverty.
4 million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line,
Homelessness is up 60% since 2010, rough sleeping up 134%.
1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials.
Brexit has cost the average household £400 a year so far.
3 million children are in poverty despite living in a working household.
Frontline services are struggling more than ever before.
1.2 million people are on the social housing waiting list, but 6,000 homes were built last year.
2.5 million people in the UK survive with incomes no more than 10% above the poverty line.
Universal Credit has failed - ‘leaving families in debt & at risk of becoming homeless.
Food bank use is up almost 4-fold since 2012, and there are now about 2,000 food banks.
"The UK is the world’s 5th largest economy, it contains many areas of immense wealth, its capital is a leading centre of global finance, its entrepreneurs are innovative and agile & despite the current political turmoil, It thus seems unjust & contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair..."
"British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful."
"But through it all, the Government has remained determinedly in a state of denial. Ministers insisted all is well and running according to plan. The good news is that many of the problems could readily be solved.."
"People I spoke with told me they have to choose between eating & heating their homes, or eating & feeding their children. Children are showing up at school with empty stomachs. Many families are living paycheck to paycheck. They are thus just one crisis away from of falling into poverty through no fault of their own."
"The costs of austerity have fallen disproportionately upon the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities."
"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."
"Whatever happens in the period ahead, we know that deep uncertainty will persist for a long time, that economic growth rates are likely to take a strong hit. If current policies towards low income working people are maintained, the poor will be substantially less well off than they already are."
But he added: ‘If a new minister was interested, if a new Government were interested, the harshness could be changed overnight and for very little money.’
"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."
This picture of a disappearing public realm is well indicated by facts of a “Crumbling Britain”, with the impact of cuts across the country.
You can read the full report here.
Brexit presents an opportunity to take stock of the current situation and reimagine what this country should represent and how it protects its people. The legislative recognition of social rights should be a central part of that reimagining. And social inclusion, rather than increasing marginalization of the working poor and those unable to work, should be the guiding principle of social policy.
Our power is held in our voting, we can decide our future.