On Wednesday 24 January an international body reported that the UK government had breached the legal human rights of sick and disabled people. This is now the fifth such report to state this in just 20 months.
A report [pdf “ECSR conclusions for 2017 – UK”] from the European Committee of Social Rights (part of the Council of Europe) details whether the UK government was meeting its legal obligations under the European Social Charter. The UK signed up to the Charter in July 1996 [pdf, p3]. It covers “fundamental” human rights, including those related to employment, housing, health, education, social protection and welfare.
The report covered [pdf, p3] the years 2012 to 2015. And overall, it found the UK government was breaching its legal obligations in two areas.
Failing on welfare
The first breach was of Article 12, the right to social security. The committee found [pdf, p19-22] that many welfare benefits – including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – were “manifestly inadequate”. That is, people were not getting enough money to live on and were being left in poverty.
The committee made a point [pdf, p19] of noting that in response to a previous report where it had raised this issue, the UK government:
contests this finding… arguing that the benefit rates are considered in isolation, without taking into account the safety net of other benefits and credits available.
But the committee once again disagreed. It said [pdf, p20] that all the benefits mentioned left people below the poverty line, even with “other benefits and credits”. Therefore, this is an automatic breach of the Charter [pdf, p20].
Please click on the link below to read the complete article, posted by The Canary: