In our last blog piece of 2018, Chief Executive Alison Shaw looks at the recent UN report on UK poverty and how there is hope for change in publishing research that challenges inequality, prejudice and poor political and economic decisions.
“In December 2014 I wrote a blog post that highlighted how positively Dickensian Christmas was going to be for the many vulnerable people reeling from the austerity cuts to their income and services from austerity measures. I said “it makes me question whether the mantra that we have to cut the deficit is in fact a political position”.
Four years on and the situation in the UK is so much worse. Given the significant amount of research we have published that shows the impact of these policies, and what needs to be done to improve the situation, I feel at times, despair.
Last month the UK government received a damning indictment of its austerity policiesfrom the UN rapporteur Philip Alston stating its policies were “punitive, mean-spirited and often callous”.
“The experience of the United Kingdom, especially since 2010, underscores the conclusion that poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so. Resources were available to the Treasury at the last budget that could have transformed the situation of millions of people living in poverty, but the political choice was made to fund tax cuts for the wealthy instead.”
As the world’s fifth largest economy, a fifth of the population live in poverty (14 million people) with 1.5 million destitute, and predictions that child poverty will rise as high as 40% over the next few years. This is in the context of a global reduction in extreme poverty from 36% to 10% in the 25 years to 2015, with stubbornly high rates in low-income countries and those in conflict zones.
Alston’s report highlights how with “many areas of immense wealth … it seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty”.
Many of our authors and partner organisations provided evidence to the report and ourJournal of Poverty and Social Justice was used extensively by Philip Alston. The report sums up what our authors have been saying for years:
SOURCE: Alison Shaw. “Poverty, injustice and hope: new UN report reveals our publishing past, present and future.” Policy Press Blog, December 18, 2018.
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