UK austerity program inflicted ‘great misery’ on Britons: UN
The United Nations has condemned the British government's austerity measures in a damning report, saying the “mean-spirited, and often callous” program has inflicted ‘great misery’ on millions of Britons.
“It is patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty,” Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said on Saturday.
He issued the report after ending a two-week fact-finding mission to the United Kingdom to investigate levels of poverty in the country.
Alston said in his 24-page report that the high rate of child poverty in Britain was “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster.”
Alston will be present his report to the UN human rights council in Geneva next year.
Recurrent estimates have suggested that a fifth of UK population, around 14 million people, live under the poverty line. More than a tenth of those poor people, around 1.5 million, are destitute and sleep rough on the streets.
Alston, an eminent human rights lawyer, confirmed those figures, which have been provided by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, saying millions in the UK were unable to afford basic essentials.
He added that Britain’s rate of child poverty could increase by seven percent to reach 40 percent of the country's children in 2020.
The UN diplomat accused the British government of adopting punitive demographic measures like China’s one-child policy by imposing limits on benefit payments to only the first two children in a family.
He said cutting council budgets by up to 50 percent was a blow to Britain’s “culture of local concern” and damaged the “fabric” of society.
Two years after the economic recession of 2008, the UK government began to introduce severe spending cuts in a bid to reduce its budget deficit.