Welfare reforms under fire by UN poverty experts

  • A letter signed by Raquel Rolnik and two other United Nations' special rapporteurs has claimed that welfare reforms may break Britain's international treaty obligations for the poor. Invitation 2

    In a letter sent to Britain's ambassador to the UN, George Osborne's indications that welfare reform will continue until at least 2017 has been criticised. The benefits cap and bedroom tax has also raised concerns, reports Inside Housing.

    The letter says: ‘We would like to bring to your government's attention information we have received concerning the... impact of reductions in public expenditure, in particular to social security, to an adequate standard of living... and to equality and non-discrimination, especially for people living in poverty. According to concerned sources, the package of austerity measures enacted could amount to retrogressive measures prohibited under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified in 1974.'

    Iain Duncan Smith responded vehemently to the letter, saying the "claims" are "absurd and unwarranted intervention. They simply do not have a clue - and we will not be taking lessons from a group of unelected commentators who can't get their facts straight. The truth is that this country has more people in work than ever before, unemployment at its lowest rate for five years, and an economy that is back on track after the mess it was left in by the last government."

    The letter will be discussed at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in September.

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