The WelCond project is delighted to be cited in the final report of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston being presented in Geneva today (27 June). Professor Alston’s hard hitting report on extreme poverty in the UK strongly criticises the welfare benefits system and concludes: ‘Much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.’
Evidence from WelCond and our linked project Sanctions, Support and Service Leavers is cited in the report section on harsh and punitive sanctions. Prof Alston said he ‘reviewed seemingly endless evidence illustrating the harsh and arbitrary nature of some sanctions, as well as the devastating effects of losing access to benefits for weeks or months at a time’.
Professor Peter Dwyer, WelCond project director, said: Our research highlighted the very negative effects of welfare conditionality and called for a fundamental review of the contemporary approach. It is heartening to see Professor Alston echoing the need for change, having read our report.’
Prof Alston recommends that the UK government should: ‘Initiate an independent review of the efficacy of changes to welfare conditionality and sanctions introduced since 2012 by the Department of Work and Pensions’.
Other WelCond recommendations to ameliorate the various immediate and practical issues with Universal Credit are also urged in Prof Alston’s report.