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UN rapporteur says government has ‘inflicted great misery’ on disabled people.

What: Professor Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, says that disabled people in the UK have faced “endless problems” as a result of the government’s social security reforms, and that the government has inflicted “great misery” on disabled people and other marginalised groups, with ministers in a state of “denial” about the impact of their policies. He also says it is clear that there needs to be a better assessment of the impact of the government’s social security cuts and reforms, including any links to the deaths of people found unfairly fit for work. His comments were made at the end of a 12-day fact finding visit to the UK as part of his investigation into the government’s record on eradicating poverty.  He says: “I also heard story after story from people who considered and even attempted suicide, and spoke with multiple organizations that have instituted suicide prevention training for frontline staff in recent years. One person said, ‘The cumulative impact of successive cuts has been devastating. People are coming to me because they are suicidal, they have turned to sex work, they can’t live with themselves.’”

Why significant:  Although Alston’s conclusions are angrily dismissed by ministers, they put further public pressure on the government to address the impact of its policies on disabled people and other marginalised groups.


Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, UN, 2018