Social workers ‘deeply concerned’ over UN report on poverty in the UK

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UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston travelled throughout the UK, including Northern Ireland, for his report on the effects of austerity

The British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASW NI) said it was deeply concerned at the findings of a highly critical report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The report, drafted by Professor Philip Alston, highlights the UK Government’s unwillingness to acknowledge the scope and impacts of poverty, and underlines its ideologically motivated drive to strip the social security system.

 BASW NI Chair, Colin Reid said: “Poverty in Northern Ireland, as throughout the UK, is widespread and deeply damaging to the life opportunities of millions of people across society. The extent of the problem is vast, Professor Alston’s report highlights 14 million people, one fifth of the UK’s population, live in poverty. Additionally, just months before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the document highlights it will be the most vulnerable and disadvantaged that are worst hit by Brexit.

“Social workers witness the debilitating impacts of poverty on a daily basis and are all too familiar with the devastation caused. Many of the people social workers support have seen their circumstances caused, or exacerbated by poverty, including people with a mental health problem, families experiencing breakdown, or children suffering neglect.”

Mr Reid added: “It is nothing short of a national outrage that in the world’s fifth largest economy, 1.5 million people, approximately equivalent to the population of Northern Ireland, are destitute and child poverty continues to increase. Furthermore, many of the problems we face have been caused by a dogged and unflinching approach to pursuing austerity at all costs, an approach driven by political choice rather than economic necessity.”

• Read VIEW issue on austerity: Stories from the Frontline –


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