The United Nations has launched an investigation into poverty and human rights in the UK which will examine the impact of the austerity policies of Theresa May and David Cameron over the past eight years.
The inquiry will be led by Prof Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, who angered the Donald Trump administration when he concluded after a similar visit to the US that the White House’s contempt for the poor was driving “cruel policies”.
“The UK has gone through a period of pretty deep budget cuts first under the coalition and then the Conservatives and I am interested to see what the outcome of that has been,” Alston told the Guardian. “I am also interested to look at what seems to be a renewed debate on all sides about the need to increase spending at least for some of the key programmes...In the UK, things are at a different place where there is no great budget surplus to be mobilised. Welfare cuts have taken place but there is now an interesting debate on whether they have gone too far and what measures need to be taken to shore up the NHS and other programmes.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies this month found that people with longstanding mental health problems in the UK were more than twice as likely to be in poverty as those without a longstanding health problem.
Torsten Bell, the director of the Resolution Foundation thinktank, said, “Twenty years ago, poverty in Britain was concentrated among pensioners and workless households,” he said. “Now poverty has moved into the workplace with more than half of the children growing up in poverty in working households.”