Regressive and precarious: analysing the UK social security system in the light of the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on poverty and human rights
In November 2018 the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights visited the UK. The report that followed his visit delivered a damning verdict on the UK welfare benefits system and the government’s record on poverty alleviation. This article analyses three important themes from the UN Rapporteur’s statement. First the ways in which the economic and social well-being of welfare benefit claimants is negatively impacted by the values-base that underpins current social security policy, second the disproportionately negative impact that welfare reform has on key vulnerable groups, and third the multiple design and implementation problems that are evident as the government moves towards a digital welfare state. The article concludes that the UK social security system is in a precarious position and considers changes which could be implemented to produce a more equitable system including the adoption of a rights-based approach such as the one established by the Scottish Parliament.
Keywords: welfare reform, social security, universal credit, poverty, human rights
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