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UN’s UK Poverty Report

The UK's social safety net has been "deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos", a report commissioned by the UN has said. Special rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston said "ideological" cuts to public services since 2010 have led to "tragic consequences".

The report comes after Professor Alston visited UK towns and cities and made preliminary findings last November. Professor Alston, an independent expert in human rights law, was appointed to the role by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014. He spent nearly two weeks travelling in Britain and Northern Ireland and received more than 300 written submissions for his report.

The report cites independent experts saying that 14 million people in the UK, a fifth of the population, live in poverty. In 2017, 1.5 million people experienced destitution, meaning they had less than £10 a day after housing costs, or they had to go without at least two essentials such as shelter, food, heat, light, clothing or toiletries during a one-month period.

Despite official denials, Professor Alston said he had heard accounts of people choosing between heating their homes or eating, children turning up to school with empty stomachs, increased homelessness and food bank use, and "story after story" of people who had considered or attempted suicide.

Read: BBC News. Poverty in the UK is ‘systematic’ and ‘tragic’, says UN special rapporteur