The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
10 Downing St
London SW1A 2AA
13 July 2016
Dear Prime Minister,
I would like to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Prime Minister.
On 24 June 2016, after months of engagement with the government and evidence gathering from public authorities and civil society groups, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued its concluding observations on the UK’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Among other measures, the report (UN ref: E/C.12/GBR/CO/6) recommends that the UK government incorporates economic and social rights into national legislation, raises the national minimum wage to ensure a decent standard of living for low paid employees, tackles the housing crisis, reviews its tax policies and adopts effective measures to address poverty, homelessness and overreliance on food banks.
The Committee also expresses serious concerns about “the disproportionate adverse impact” of “austerity measures”, and recommends that the UK government “reviews its policies and programmes introduced since 2010 and conduct a comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impact of these measures on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, in particular women, children and persons with disabilities”.
These concerns and recommendations are in line with the trends identified in the latest British Social Attitudes Survey which shows a significant rise in the number of people who believe that the income gap is too large and that working people don’t get a fair share of the national wealth.
I listened intently to your recent statements about economic inequality. You will recall that in 2010 you said the duty to have regard to the socio-economic consequences of government action that is contained in s1. Equality Act 2010 would never be brought into force by a Conservative Government. However in response to a question from the Committee the head of the UK delegation said that the Government was reconsidering its position in relation to the socio-economic duty. The Committee has now recommended that the Government should implement the duty so as to help tackle inequality. I would be most grateful if you explain the Government’s current thinking in relation to this important issue.
On behalf of the 77 UK charities and local community groups that are part of the Just Fair Consortium, I kindly request you to inform us how you intend to respond to the UN Committee’s report and implement its recommendations.
Just Fair Chair