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The Lie In The UN Rapporteur’s UK Poverty Report

Philip Alston is the UN Special Rapporteur on poverty. He’s been around the UK telling all how terrible poverty is here.

It’s not, obviously, as we don’t have any poverty. We do have inequality, that’s true, but not poverty. Still. In the report we get this:

“The United Kingdom’s impending exit from the European Union poses particular risks for people in poverty, but the Government appears to be treating this as an afterthought,” the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said at the end of a 12-day visit to the country.

Almost all studies have shown that the UK economy will be worse off after Brexit. Consequences for inflation, real wages, and consumer prices will drive more people into poverty unless the Government takes action to shield those most vulnerable and replaces current EU funding for combatting poverty, he said.

In the United Kingdom, 14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50 percent below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials.

All of those measures of poverty are of inequality, less than 60% of median household income, less than 50% and so on. This sort of poverty decreases in recessions. As it just did in the last one. Because top end wages are more geared to profits and the economy. So, they collapse more in a recession.

So, he’s claiming Brexit will cause a recession? But that means inequality, this sort of poverty, will reduce. That’s thus a lie, isn’t it? Or, alternatively, he’s not got the first clue about the subject at hand. And having corresponded with him I don’t believe that second, he knows very well.

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2 years ago

But if we take him at his word we need money to aid these people. We could divert the money we currently send overseas to aiding the poor here.
Bye bye overseas aid, a UN representative has said we need the money here.

2 years ago

Assuming as I do, that all journalists copy and paste from press releases the Economist this week may give an insight to his thinking.

Their graphic shows both Relative Poverty and Absolute Poverty. Relative Poverty is the standard 60% of medium income (after tax and benefits) and Absolute Poverty = 60% of 2010-2011 Median Income. Therefore during a boom he may wish to refer to Relative Poverty and during a recession Absolute Poverty.

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