Poverty and Inequality

20.11.18

Local government has been ‘gutted’ according to UN’s report on UK poverty

A United Nations report looking at poverty in the UK has identified cuts to local government as one of the many causes of poverty across the country.

Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, toured the UK to assess the nation’s levels of poverty.

He found that local authorities, especially in England, have been “gutted by a series of government policies,” and because they provide a “real social safety net” have contributed to growing levels of poverty.

“As a result, they have transferred a greater share of service costs to users who are often the least able to pay.”

He was told by one council leader that cuts to preventative and proactive services has led to a rise in demand for crisis intervention services, which is far more costly.

Alston noted that public services like libraries and community centres are of “particular significance” to those living in poverty.

At least 28 authorities have “shuttered” their local welfare funds, leaving vulnerable and those in neeed with nowhere to turn – of which “has apparently been of no concern to the government, which decentralised responsibility for the funds and does not collect any information on what has become of them.”

Alston even cited Northamptonshire County Council’s two spending bans and its deteriorating children’s services, which saw another commissioner being sent in by communities secretary James Brokenshire.

Speaking of next year’s Spending Review, Alston said: “Many people with whom I spoke from local and central government expressed concern that this review could lead to even more negative policies affecting people living in poverty.”

 

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