A letter to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak asking them to support a public right to housing, food, and income.
News | 31.08.22
Around 50 charities, academics and campaigners have written to Conservative leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak asking them to support a public right to housing, food, and income.
The letter, organised by Compassion in Politics and JustFair UK, has been written as forecasters predict UK inflation will hit 18% next year and companies warn of “catastrophic” energy prices, calls for “era-defining solutions” to the cost-of-living crisis.
It argues that the offers of one-off payments to households, while welcome, will do nothing to fix the structural problems facing the UK economy including rising prices, falling wages, and insufficient social security payments.
The letter reads:
The cost-of-living crisis represents an era-defining challenge that demands era-defining solutions.
Right now, people are experiencing extreme hardship and anxiety. Each month, more than two million people are going without food for a whole day.1 Children are having to forego meals and new clothes for school. Almost half of disabled people have had to cut back on buying essentials.2
We were pleased that, in response, the UK Government oered support packages to help individuals towards the cost of energy.
But much more needs to be done.
Payments, though welcome in the short-term, will not address the long-term problems aecting our economy: low-wages, insucient social security support, and escalating costs.
Despite the challenges, the resources are there to ensure everyone can lead a decent, safe, and prosperous life. Just as households struggle to pay their bills, energy companies have announced record profits.
This is about choices and priorities. We urge you to prioritise support for those who need it.
One simple mechanism could make a big dierence: enhancing the status of economic, social, and cultural rights in UK law and policy. By this, we mean, particularly, the right to housing and food as part of an adequate standard of living, the right to education, the right to health, and the right to social security.
These protections, which we have committed to at an international level via the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, are yet to be formally introduced into domestic legislation.3
Successive UK governments have been urged to address this deficit. In 2004, for example, the Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded there was an urgent case for “incorporating guarantees of the Covenant rights into UK law” 4 and in 2016 the United Nations’ own Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural wrote to the UK urging “the State party to fully incorporate the Covenant rights into its domestic legal order.” 5
Now, as hardship bites, is the time to amend this oversight.
Introducing these protections would ensure everyone gets access to the basics they need: shelter, food, and an income that can meet the cost of living.
Not only would that help to end avoidable suering, it would also enhance our collective freedom. With those protections in place, we would all experience the confidence and security necessary to plan and work towards a better future.
The prospect of navigating the oncoming crisis is understandably daunting. But it can be done. There is enough wealth out there to ensure that everyone is fed, housed, and has the power to lead a good and decent life. We just need the right structures and frameworks in place to achieve that ambition. We need economic, social, and cultural rights.
3. A draft Bill to achieve this ambition: https://research.ncl.ac.uk/article22/consultation/2%20Bill%20with%20footnotes.pdf
5. http://docstore.ohchr.org/SelfServices/FilesHandler.ashx?enc=4slQ6QSmlBEDzFEovLCuW3XRinAE8KCBFoqOHNz% 2FvuCC%2BTxEKAI18bzE0UtfQhJkxxOSGuoMUxHGypYLjNFkwxnMR6GmqogLJF8BzscMe9zpGf TXBkZ4pEaigi44xqiL
To view the list of signatories and read more visit Compassion in Politics at: