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Austerity in the UK: rising poverty threatens stability and health

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 20 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4897
  1. Sophie Arie
  1. London

Many believe that the findings of the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty in the UK should be a wake-up call to policy makers, but is the government listening? Sophie Arie reports

Austerity policies in the UK have unnecessarily inflicted “great misery” on people living in poverty, but ministers are in a state of denial and are “happy with the way in which things are playing out.”

This was the damning conclusion of the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, after he had toured the UK and met some of the country’s poorest citizens, as well as government officials and charities.

UN special rapporteur Philip Alston: “Britain is capable of eliminating poverty, but it’s clear it doesn’t want to”

“Britain is capable of eliminating poverty, but it’s clear it doesn’t want to,” he told reporters at a press conference to present a 12 page report that accused successive governments since 2010 of attempting “radical social re-engineering” under the guise of austerity.1

“Government policies have inflicted great misery 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,” he wrote after …

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