A UN expert has said that UK ministers are living in a “state of denial” over the extreme poverty existing around the country, and has welcomed the Scottish Government’s attempts to counteract Westminster welfare cuts.
The UN Rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said today that he was extremely surprised that UK Ministers were “happy” with the way in which their welfare policies were playing out. Mr Alston was speaking at the end of his ten day investigation into poverty in the UK.
The human rights expert visited areas across the UK, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, during his investigation, and has reported on the effects of the UK Government’s failing efforts to tackle poverty in the UK, the impact of austerity measures, welfare cuts, Universal Credit, and Brexit.
Mr Alston also highlighted that many of the flaws in the social security system were a result of political choices, saying that “if a new minister was interested, if a new government was interested, the worst aspect of these policies could be changed overnight and for very little money”.
Esther McVey – who has steered the shambolic roll-out of Universal Credit since January – resigned yesterday in protest at the Prime Minister’s handling of a Brexit deal, after facing months of criticism for her refusal to scrap the botched policy.
SNP MSP Bob Doris said: “The Tory government should be thoroughly ashamed of what they have heard from the UN Rapporteur today.
“The impact of Tory welfare cuts have been laid bare today in this absolutely damning report – which highlights clearly that the UK government’s austerity is pushing thousands of people into poverty.
“With the Tory party loudly backing harmful policies such as the rape clause and the two-child cap, and Labour’s refusal to support the devolution of Universal Credit to the Scottish Parliament – it is clear that the SNP is the only party prepared to build a welfare system of dignity and fairness at its heart.
“It’s time for the Scottish Parliament to have the full powers to prevent even more people being dragged into hardship.”