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UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty publishes findings from UK visit

May 22nd 2019

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty has, today (22 May 2019) published a damming report on poverty in the UK. The Rapporteur’s report paints a grim picture of live for millions of families across the UK and comes to the conclusion that “much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos”.

The report draws on findings made by the Special Rapporteur during his visit in the UK in the autumn of 2018 and from written evidence that was submitted to him by organisations and individuals in advance of his visit. The Bevan Foundation was grateful for the opportunity to feed into this process.

A number of key themes are highlighted by the report, amongst these is that the continuous focus on increasing employment as the solution to poverty is not sufficient. The Rapporteur notes that almost 60% of those living in poverty in Wales live in households where at least one adult is in work and that there are 2.8 million people living in poverty in the UK where adults are working full time.

Other themes that come through the report is the devastating impact of austerity. The Rapporteur sets out the impact it has had on low income families, highlighting how the safety net has been removed from them. He also explores how welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit in particular has had a negative effect on families trapped in poverty.

Much of the focus of the report is on the actions of the UK Government but the Rapporteur does also comment on the actions of the devolved administrations. Whilst the Rapporteur does find that the devolved administrations have tried to mitigate the impact of the UK Government’s actions the report does criticise the Welsh Government’s decision to scrap its poverty specific action plan and the post of Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty in 2017. The Rapporteur felt that the new Prosperity for All Strategy “has no strategic focus or ministerial responsibility for poverty reduction, and lacks clear performance targets and progress indicators.” We believe that the Welsh Government should reflect on this finding and reconsider its current approach.

The Bevan Foundation believes that the Rapporteur’s report holds up a mirror to the nation. We believe it is vital that everyone reflects on its findings and considers what can be done to reverse the projected increase in poverty by 2021. The Bevan Foundation is committed to finding solutions to poverty in Wales. To find out more about how you can help us, click here.

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