A Journal of People report
Millions of British families are on the brink of poverty. Rising prices and stagnating incomes have pushed them to the brink. A report from a leading UK think-tank has cited the fact.
Included in the 19 million families on the brink are six million children – 45 percent of the total in the UK.
The report warned that up to 11 million of those families will actually fall into poverty by 2020, when the cost of living is expected to be 10 percent higher, far outstripping estimated wage increases.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), between 2014 and 2015 up to 19 million people were living below the Minimum Living Standard (MLS) – up by four million since the financial crisis back in 2008.
The MLS figure corresponds to what the public thinks is a fair amount of money for a decent living.
Chief executive of the JRF, Campbell Robb, said: The high cost of living has already pushed four million more people below an adequate income, and if the cost of essentials such as food, energy and housing rise further, we need to take action to ease the strain.
Tens of thousands of families will be hit with a controversial new benefits cap that comes into force on Monday, bringing maximum payments for working age households to £23,000 ($28,500) in London and £20,000 ($24,840) outside the capital.
The move, announced in 2015 by then-chancellor George Osborne, is part of the government’s attempt to cut £12 billion ($14.9bn) from the welfare bill.
Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) indicates that, although the cap will save the government £100 million ($124 million), “the majority of those affected will not respond” to the measure by finding employment or moving.
Since 2013, some 20,000 families were capped by the £26,000 ($32,300) limit on total household benefits. The Department for Work and Pension (DWP) estimates that around 23,500 households that had their benefits capped have since moved into work.
Inequality and Brexit
An Oxfam report said:
Britain’s staggering social inequality – where the richest 1 percent possesses more than 20 times the wealth of the poorest fifth – contributed to Brexit.
Research indicates around 634,000 Britons are worth 20 times as much as the poorest 13 million.
Rising property prices over the past 20 years, combined with golden handshakes for retiring corporate directors, have helped distribute wealth upwards while the majority of people who rent and have no pension have seen their wealth remain static or decrease.
Oxfam says this huge inequality contributed to the vote to leave the European Union, as people feel increasingly disconnected with the political process.
Austerity policy violates human rights
A UN report recently expressed “serious concern” about the British government’s austerity policies, which it said violated international human rights.
The report claimed swift reforms implemented in the welfare system were reportedly increasing inequality and having a particular negative impact on women, young people, ethnic minorities, and disabled people.
The government rejected the findings of the UN’s Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR), however, and failed address the issues raised in its report.
The report says the new living wage did not keep up with modern standards of living Rex Features
The British Government’s austerity policies are a breach of international human rights, a new report by the UN has warned.
The UNCESCR has expressed “serious concerns” about growing inequality in the UK following six years of austerity policies under the current Conservative Government and the Coalition which preceded it.
Based on evidence provided by charities and campaign groups, the body concluded that the regressive nature of policies such as universal credit and the “bedroom tax” meant they breached the UK’s international human rights obligations.
The review is the first of UK policy since 2009, making it the first time Conservative policy has come under scrutiny.
The report’s authors said they were “deeply concerned” about “the various changes in the entitlements to, and cuts in, social benefits” which it says disproportionately affect women, young people, ethnic minorities and disabled people.
The study found the new “living wage” of £7.20 per hour still did not provide an adequate standard of living, especially for people living in London – and that the Government was not doing enough to stop people having to rely on foodbanks.
The Government should take steps to reduce the number of people in part time work and relying on “zero hours” contracts, it suggested.
The report also highlighted a rise in VAT coinciding with a fall in inheritance and corporation tax, meaning the poor are paying comparatively more tax and the rich less.
The Committee recommended the UK adopts a “socially equitable” tax policy and clamps down further on tax avoidance.
It also voiced concerns about “persistent discrimination” against migrant workers.