Challenging Poverty

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2016 National Delegate Conference
1 March 2016

Within recent months UNISON has highlighted growing inequality and deepening poverty across the UK. At the same time, UNISON at the centre and across our regions has been pursuing a range of demands aimed at reducing poverty in the face of mounting evidence that current UK and devolved government strategies to tackle poverty have failed.

This failure is evidenced by the most recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report (Monitoring Poverty & Social Exclusion 2015) which shows that:

1)Over 13 million people in the UK (21%) continue to live in low-income households;

2)3.7m children (28%) live in poverty;

3)50%+ of those in poverty live in working families, a growing number of which are UNISON members.

To effectively tackle poverty it is essential that Governments put poverty reduction at the core of their economic and social policies and ensure that anti-poverty strategies are underpinned by an equality and human rights based approach. Such an approach goes much further than the usual self-contained set of actions and targets in traditional anti-poverty strategies. It requires that Governments:

a)Apply human rights laws and international obligations;

b)Empower poor people themselves;

c)Mainstream principles of universality, non-discrimination and equality, participatory decision-making, accountability and the recognition of the inter-dependence of rights;

d)Combine anti-poverty strategies with equality strategies that tie the allocation of resources to neutral ‘objective need’ criteria that measure deprivation irrespective of community background or other affiliation.

In pursuit of the above framework, Conference calls on the National Executive Council:

i)To continue to make anti-poverty work a UNISON priority;

ii)To encourage and facilitate work between, and across, regions and the centre;

iii)To share information on the strategies being adopted across the four Governments;

iv)To promote and encourage collaborative work with our allies in anti-poverty, equality and human rights networks;

v)To highlight successful political and legal interventions to strengthen our campaign.