An expert in poverty and human rights has advised governments around the globe to raise wages and benefits in line with inflation or risk losing their lives.
Olivier De Schutter is the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on extreme poverty and human right. He says that the most vulnerable people are paying the price for world events.
On Monday, he will deliver a stark speech at a Council of Europe event, Strasbourg, France. He will state: “It’s not hyperbole for me to say that lives will be lost if governments don’t increase wages and benefits in line with inflation.”
“Whether it’s in Europe where inflation is at a record high 10% or sub-Saharan Africa, where food prices have risen by almost 24%, household budgets around the world are being stretched to breaking point. This means that even more people will be starved or frozen this winter if they don’t take immediate action to increase their income.
De Schutter will also mention that the rising inflation and the coronavirus pandemic are likely to lead to an additional 75-95m people falling into poverty this coming year.
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He will also urge governments to insulate their homes before winter arrives in the Northern Hemisphere. He said: “Insulating homes to keep people safe and warm is not rocket science. Failure to act in this area is just down to a lack in political will.
“This will not only reduce the energy bills for low-income households but also significantly reduce carbon emissions.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions stated that an annual statutory review would be conducted in October in the UK to assess benefits and state pensions. This would use “the latest prices and earnings indexes”
He said, “We are committed in looking after the most vulnerable. That’s why we’ve delivered at minimum PS1,200 to families this winter and also saved households an average PS1,000 per year through our Energy Price guarantee.
“This support is in addition to the annual working-age benefit bill that is more than PS87bn.