UN visit will leave Tories nowhere to hide on poverty failings

Theresa May UN

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) are sending a world renowned human rights and law Professor to the UK in November. What won’t please the government, is that he has asked for public submissions to aid him in his investigation. This will make it hard for the Tories to spin as teething issues.

picture of Theresa May with an worried face next to plaque of the United Nations Human Rights Council - Office of the High Commissioner

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations (UN) system and consists of 47 Member States.

This committee is responsible for cooperation for the promotion and protection of Human Rights.

The UN states its goals include providing “greater prominence to the plight of those living in extreme poverty and to highlight the human rights consequences of the systematic neglect to which they are all too often subjected.”

It is also makes recommendations to the General Assembly for further development of international law in the field of human rights.

The Special Rapporteur

Professor Philip Alston
Professor Alston UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights – Credit @Alston_UNSR Twitter

The UN are sending renowned Professor Philip Alston to the UK in November. He has been tasked in to looking into “extreme poverty and human rights” issues that may have arisen due to austerity and welfare reform. He will also investigate how Brexit may further affect poverty levels within the UK.

Philip Alston is an international law scholar and human rights expert. He is a Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, and co-Chair of the law school’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

Alston does not directly work for the UN and any argument that he may be biased can immediately be dispelled.

In October 2016, Alston released a scathing report to the UN General Assembly calling the UN’s refusal to accept responsibility for the devastating 2010 Haiti cholera outbreak a “disgrace.”

He went on to say; “The UN’s explicit and unqualified denial of anything other than a moral responsibility is a disgrace. If the United Nations bluntly refuses to hold itself accountable for human rights violations, it makes a mockery of its efforts to hold governments and others to account.”

In my opinion, this shows that Professor Alston really cares about Human Rights and holding those who breach them to account.

The UK November Visit

Professor Alston will visiting Great Britain and Northern Ireland between the 5th and 16th of November 2018.

His primary focus is to look into the effects that Tory policies have had on poverty levels and human rights in the UK. Argueable the two biggest issues he will look into are austerity and welfare reform.

The government are always giving themselves a pat on the back for their policy decisions. In relation to welfare reform they are currently pushing the misleading statistic that employment is at an all time high.

What they fail to mention is that anyone doing at least one hour or those on zero hour contracts are included in these figures. Therefore we should really take them with the pinch of salt they deserve.

Austerity

Cuts
Institute for Fiscal Studies data showing cuts to government departments in % – 2010-2017

In 2010, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne announced heavy austerity measures including tax rises and massive spending cuts. He vowed to eliminate the deficit in five years. This did not materialise.

Worse still the UK’s national debt has actually risen. In 2010 the UK’s national debt stood at £1 trillion. By 2017, despite all the cuts to public services and the welfare budget, it had risen to £1.76 trillion. The Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts it will reach £2 trillion by 2022.

It is clear that austerity has not worked. A nearly 40% cut to the welfare budget will clearly have had an affect on poverty levels. If they have less money to spend the government will cut corners to save money. As we know, Universal Credit is not performing well.

Welfare Reforms

Universal-Credit-report

The Tory’s flagship welfare reforms such as Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment have caused unprecedented chaos and hardship. There so much evidence I wasn’t sure were to start.

The National Audit Office (NAO) stated that despite claims by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that Universal Credit would save the taxpayer money, this may never be achieved.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JrF) published a highly critical report in May showing that over 1.5 million people in the UK were destitute in 2017.

The Trussell Trust and Oxford University did a “deepdive study” in areas where Universal Credit was in operation for over twelve-months. They found that foodbank use in these areas rose by 52% compared to the national average of 13%. The DWP as usual claimed that there was no correlation and blamed a “small sample size” for the findings.

When it comes to Personal Independence Payment Professor Alston will already be aware that the High Court found the DWP discriminated against those with disabilities and illness. The Department for Work and Pension (DWP) also lost an earlier case which showed they had discriminated against those with mental health condition. He will see the hardship and utter devastation that the Tories have wreaked on some of the UK’s most vulnerable people.

Brexit

Alston also wants to investigate how Brexit may affect poverty and human rights within the UK after we leave the European Union.

In relation to Human Rights many are certain that these will come under threat from the Tories. Dominic Raab, the new Brexit Secretary has long advocated for the abolition of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and when he was justice minister he attempted to draw up a “Bill of Rights” to replace it.

Boris Johnson who is currently favourite to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister has already caused outrage with his offensive comments about the Niqab and when you consider he’s meeting with far-right people like Steve Bannon, what else will he come up with?

What’s more the government already breaches human rights WITH EU oversight, so what will it be like if and when we leave the EU?

Conclusion

What is certain is one thing. The Tories have lost their one go to excuse; “but Labour.” There is so much evidence from world renowned institutions and individuals that they have no place to hide.

With the general public submitting their own evidence to the UN, this will enable those inspecting the UK to see raw, unfiltered accounts and experiences of those living in poverty and destitution.

I will await Professor Alstons report in anticipation as there is no way that the government will be able to argue away anything this time.

Submissions wanted

Mr Alston is looking for submissions from individuals and organisations. You don’t need to be known as everyone’s story is just as important as others.

srextremepoverty@ohchr.org is the email should you wish to submit your own pieces to the UN.

They want no more than 2500 words not including annexes such as reports etc.

He is specifically looking for how austerity measures, welfare reforms a d government automation has affected poverty and human rights in the UK.

He also welcomes pieces on how Brexiteer may affect the above.

The closing date is 14th September

Alex Tiffin

@RespectIsVital on Twitter

Universal Credit Sufferer on Facebook

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12 thoughts on “UN visit will leave Tories nowhere to hide on poverty failings

  1. Criminal proceedings should be brought against the Tory party since 2010,and up to this present May government.The unacceptable cruelty austerity against the very people that are relying on assistance,financial or otherwise is criminal,in the 21st century in 2018,Britain has been dragged back almost 150 years.We should never ever have another Tory government,it will take Labour years and years to put right the mess and hardship right.One thing is certain,labour will not be given the time to sort it out.The Tories are no more than a rich elitist gang of spivs and fraudsters,that ALL of the rotten government ministers are as corrupt as Trumpand May is his equal in corruption and cover_ ups.

  2. It would be great if leaflets could be distributed in job centres, benefit offices, benefit tribunal offices and food banks et al. so this would reach the people that austerity is hitting the hardest. Not everyone has access to computers and again it will be those who’s stories should be told are the ones that will remain silent.

  3. I am one of the millions who had to endure the ATOS assessment, I have never ever been as frightened for my life as now. I worked full time for 34 years until I became to ill to carry on in September 2005. I am now Chronically Sick and Disabled, I should have qualified for a pension by now. But the Government moved the retirement date to 66 years old. I doubt if I will live that long. I struggle to get out of bed on some days on my own. I am in Constant Pain live on my own and have suffered a life time of abuse. People are totally selfish and so greedy now. It is horrible being in the gutter all the time, I now am abused by the government of my own country. The last straw was the removal of £31 per week of housing benefit, because I own my own home.It was replaced by an Offer of a loan with Interest (variable) to pay guess what…A Mortgage which is a loan with interest. I had eight letters and five telephone calls from Serco, which to me is illegal in it self. Serco are nothing more than loan sharks with a legal right to be attached to your house. Yet when I asked “How would this loan be of help to my personal financial situation?” No one could provide an answer from Serco. I wish someone would apply the same legislation to Serco as they did to Wonga. Where was the competition from other lenders? Why did the government sneak this legislation through just before the surprise General Election? They truly are the Nasty Party- devoid of all emotion and compassion. I have plenty of medication 31 tablets per day just for a start.If this government is re elected I will take a massive dose of medication which I hope will kill me, or if that fails it will be the can of petrol over the head and a lighted match, just quietly when no one is around. My name is Carol Cassidy I am a 60 year old woman just trying to have a nice time before I die early..(No one in my family has ever survived to get a free TV licence) I am an intelligent, human being not a number or a Statistic. Just ill Thank you.

    1. I’m getting worse everyday they stopped my ESA stating I showed no signs of depression and anxiety. Also said I had no professional input. The assessor lied on several questions. I’m not the only one there’s several groups on Facebook. This whole cock up has made my depresion and my anxiety worse I’m on the verges of losing my home.

  4. This government is nothing but a bunch of Robin hoods with it being the opp making the poor poorer and the rich richer. All these cuts and people are fucking dying for God sake we will end up being a third world rather than the 2n world and all because the stupid government are making. Deals which is leading us into more debt which we will never be free from and the fact they have pushed the national voting back says alot. They are killing people in the UK and no one is being held accountable for it because of the universal credit and making very sick people go to interviews or having there benifits stopped while they are receiving treatment how much lower can this government get and how many more lives are going to be wasted before someone steps in and takes over this horrendous government.

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