UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty reports on poverty in the UK

In November this year the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights visited the UK including Northern Ireland.   Sir Philip Alston met with people living in poverty, talked with people in civil society, frontline advisers, community organisations, foodbanks, advice staff and spoke to politicians. 


His preliminary findings on Poverty in the UK have been published.  Despite the UK being the world’s fifth largest economy a fifth of the population live in poverty. Addressing the Government’s austerity policies since 2010 Professor Alston said:


great misery has also been inflicted unnecessarily, especially on the working poor, on single mothers struggling against mighty odds, on people with disabilities who are already marginalised, and on millions of children who are being locked into a cycle of poverty from which most will have great difficulty escaping.”


Professor Alston went on to talk about those who are hardest hit by the austerity agenda:


“the costs of austerity have fallen disproportionately upon the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities.  The changes to taxes and benefits since 2010 have been highly regressive, and the policies have taken the highest toll on those least able to bear it.”


In his preliminary findings he noted that women are particularly affected by poverty:


“Reductions in social care services translate to an increased burden on primary caregivers who are disproportionately women. Under Universal Credit, single payments to an entire household may entrench problematic and often gendered dynamics within a couple, including by giving control of the payments to a financially or physically abusive partner. Changes to the support for single parents also disproportionately affect women, who make up about 90% of single parents, and as of August of this year, two-thirds of Universal Credit recipients who had their benefits capped were single parents.


You can read Sir Philip’s preliminary findings following his visit to the UK here:



You can also keep up to date with Sir Philip Alston on Twitter @Alston_UNSR