Patrick Harvie condemns UK Government’s dismissal of UN poverty report

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The UK Government has shown contempt for people impacted by poverty, Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie has suggested.

Mr Harvie spoke at Holyrood following the publication of a report on extreme poverty and human rights by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston.

Picture: John Devlin

Picture: John Devlin

He visited the UK on a 12-day tour earlier this month and presented his preliminary findings on Friday.

The poverty envoy accused UK ministers of being “in a state of denial” over the extent of the issue in Britain.

Amber Rudd, the newly appointed Work and Pensions Secretary, dismissed the report on Monday and said the author had “discredited” his own findings.

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Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie said: “The UK Government’s contempt for this report is emblematic of the contempt that they’ve shown for the lives of the people affected by the issues that the report covers.

“But while we should all be pleased that the report recognises the distinctive approach that’s being taken in Scotland, we should never be complacent. “

Scottish Communities Minister Aileen Campbell said: “In dismissing this report, they dismiss the consequences of the actions that they have taken, causing great misery to the most vulnerable.

“The UK Government needs to open their eyes and quite frankly, lift their heads from the sand.

“Child poverty is still too high and the finger of blame should point squarely at the UK Government and welfare cuts.”

The report highlighted Scottish Government schemes for addressing poverty, including its Fairer Scotland Action Plan and Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

It said the absence of a legal remedy or a more robust reference to international standards in the Social Security (Scotland) Act is significant and should be addressed.

Mr Alston also called it an “outrage” the devolved administrations were having to spend resources to shield people from UK Government policies.

Ms Campbell said: “I want to use our resources and our powers to create a fairer and more equal country, not just mitigate the actions of another government.

“We take Professor Alston’s recommendations seriously, but we have a good platform to build on around making sure that we can evidence to him that we are taking forward the work that he says we need to do more effort on.”

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