Intended for healthcare professionals


UK’s “austerity experiment” has forced millions into poverty and homelessness, say UN rapporteur

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 23 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2321


The deepening health crisis in the UK requires society wide, political intervention


Austerity bites—falling life expectancy in the UK

  1. Sophie Arie
  1. London, UK

The United Nations has accused the UK government of unnecessarily causing a “social calamity” with an “austerity experiment” which has forced millions of people into poverty, causing record levels of hunger, homelessness, and decreased life expectancy for some.

But the government has rejected the findings, insisting that the country is “one of the happiest places in the world.”

“UK standards of wellbeing have descended precipitately in a remarkably short period of time, as a result of deliberate policy choices made when many other options were available,” said Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, in a report published on 22 May.1

In the world’s fifth largest economy, there are 14 million people—a fifth of the population—living in …

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