Daily Mail

UN envoy lectures Britain: Your state benefits are too low

- By Martin Beckford Policy Editor

THE United Nations has claimed that poverty levels in Britain are ‘simply not acceptable’ – sparking a fresh row with Downing Street.

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme Poverty and human Rights, accused the Government of breaking internatio­nal law by giving benefits claimants £85 a week at a time of soaring inflation.

Lee Anderson, deputy chairman of the Conservati­ve Party, hit back, saying: ‘This is typical nonsense from the UN... They should spend more time sorting out their response to the situation in Israel instead of spouting this rubbish.’

Last night No 10 flatly rejected the claims. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: ‘We simply don’t agree... Our record on this is clear – there are 1.7million fewer people in absolute poverty and there are almost 700,000 fewer children growing up in workless households since 2010.’

The war of words began when Mr De Schutter, a Belgian lawyer who is visiting the UK this week, told The Guardian: ‘It’s simply not acceptable that we have more than a fifth of the population in a rich country such as the UK at risk of poverty today.

‘The policies in place are not working or not protecting people in poverty.’

he suggested that the level of universal credit – £368 a month for single over-25s – was ‘in violation’ of the Internatio­nal Covenant on economic, Social and Cultural Rights. his claim about a fifth of the population being at risk of poverty is based on data showing that 14.4million people lived in relative poverty – meaning their household incomes were below 60 per

‘This is typical nonsense’

cent of the average in that year – in 2021-22. But Mr Anderson said: ‘Using “relative” as a yardstick has no reflection on reality – yes things are tough but they’re a lot better than they were.’

Five years ago Mr De Schutter’s predecesso­r controvers­ially said he had uncovered Dickensian conditions in the UK. Mr De Schutter claims the situation has worsened further.

WITH the Middle East in flames, Russia brutalisin­g Ukraine and China persecutin­g its Uighur minority, you might expect the UN to focus all its attention on helping desperate people caught in conflict.

Instead, this increasing­ly absurd organisati­on presumes to lecture Britain over our supposed disregard for the poor. ‘Special rapporteur’ Olivier De Schutter says welfare payments are so meagre they violate internatio­nal law.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Previous UN observers have delivered equally prepostero­us verdicts on this mean and wicked society of ours.

In fact, the number of children, elderly and families in absolute poverty has fallen steadily in real terms since the Tories came to power. Even in these straitened times, welfare benefits and the minimum wage have been substantia­lly increased.

So, Mr Schutter, if this country is so heartless, can you explain why people the world over are clamouring to settle here?

And if UK welfare handouts are insufficie­nt, perhaps Chancellor Jeremy Hunt should raid our bloated foreign aid budget to pay for a further rise instead of funding flawed organisati­ons like the UN. After all, charity begins at home.

 ?? ?? Row: Olivier De Schutter
Row: Olivier De Schutter

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