Council housing dwarfed by London's financial district. Photo: Oxfam.

The Centre for Welfare Reform (CWR) has launched a new campaign, calling for constitutional reform to combat a “political system that serves only the interests of the few”.

In an open letter, the CWR write: “We, the undersigned, work to bring about a better, fairer society. However we have come to see that our efforts are compromised by an economic and political system that serves only the interests of the few.

“Every day we see grotesque inequality, poverty wages and rising consumer debt, over-powerful banks and energy companies, a housing crisis, and disregard for environmental standards. Worst of all we see a retreating welfare state that inflicts punitive sanctions on some of our most vulnerable people and communities.

“Multiple injustices at home are mirrored by a deeply unethical foreign policy. Rather than promote peace, uphold human rights and democratic norms, our foreign policy is dominated by commercial imperatives which include lucrative arms sales to countries with repressive regimes and abysmal human rights records.

“None of these crises can be resolved without reference to basic principles of economic, social and environmental justice and these in turn should not be separate from the legislative principles that guide the work of Parliament.

“To make this happen, we need a new settlement between people and government in the form of a written constitution that embeds a comprehensive bill of human rights, including economic, social and environmental rights.

“It must delimit the power of Parliament by devolving real power to the regions and nations that make up the UK and place local government on an independent legal footing. Only then can ordinary people gain real control over their lives and shape their own future. The people, not Parliament, must be the new sovereign and a written constitution is the means to achieve that.

“We therefore call for a Citizens’ Convention on a written constitution as the first step towards this goal.”

Welfare Weekly Editor and Founder Steven Preece has offered his support to this campaign, and called for access to social security benefits to be made a basic human right in the UK.

Mr Preece said: “A written constitution that enshrines everyone’s right to a decent standard of living is long overdue. Draconian cuts to social security benefits and public services has undone recent achievements in combatting poverty and homelessness, and risks a sustained and irreversible decline in living standards – with the poorest in society the hardest hit.

“Urgent change is needed to ensure the poor and vulnerable are adequately protected against poverty and political choices that lead to further social exclusion.

“By making access to social security benefits and other vital services, including healthcare, a human right we could permanently eradicate poverty and destitution from our towns, cities, and communities once and for all.”

Anyone wishing to add their support to this campaign can do so by contacting Gavin Barker from the Centre for Welfare Reform.