UN accuses authorities to be in “denial” of poverty which Brexit will aggravate
Saturday, 17 November 2018
The United Nations accused the British government last Friday of being in “denial” towards the widening gaps in the country’s riches, which Brexit will only worsen. After a 12-day mission in the field, the UN official in charge of poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, concluded that there is “very sharp deterioration in the situation of the poorest.’’ His report delivered Friday shows a poverty rate among British children that could reach 40%. He added that one British citizen out of five lives below the poverty line, according to national criteria.
“It’s sad and clearly unjustified,” Alston comments. “The money is there. The government recently decided to spend exorbitant amounts in tax cuts in favor of the wealthiest.’’ “This money could have had a real impact on the situation of people living in poverty,” he added.
The UK has faced a decade of austerity, following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Drastic cuts and a freeze on spending affected most government programs. Meanwhile, London restructured the benefit system in order to encourage the return to employment. Prime Minister Theresa May justified this policy by highlighting the unemployment rate decline: from 7% in 2013 to 4.1% last September. But Philip Alston noted that in dismantling the welfare state, Britain will end up by violating UN conventions protecting the rights of women and children.
This UN report is published in the middle of a government crisis during which Theresa May faces rebellion by her camp’s members, who are in favor of a hard Brexit. For the author, Brexit will inevitably impact the UK economy, regardless of the agreement’s terms for divorce with the EU.
Furthermore, he indicates that the government has planned nothing to limit the effects on the poorest classes.