Extreme poverty and human rights: Response to UN Special Rapporteur

This briefing answers some of the questions in a consultation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor Philip Alston, on extreme poverty and human rights.

It is not right that anyone should have to experience extreme poverty or destitution in the UK. We welcome the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur and the opportunity to respond to his consultation.

This briefing is based on JRF evidence and insight. It focuses on poverty measures, Universal Credit, child poverty and Brexit.

Our recommendations:

  • Government and others should take up and use a new measure of poverty from the Social Metrics Commission that takes account of savings, as well as incomes, and costs such as housing, childcare and disability; and uses a rolling three-year average of median resources.
  • Universal Credit requires considerable short- and long-term reform to fulfil its potential as a poverty-fighting tool – for example, by restoring funding in UC for working families.
  • Future governments must protect low-income families from the risk of rising inflation after Brexit by uprating benefits and tax credits to cover rising costs.
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