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CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has been accused of “living in a different world” after he refused to recognise that millions of Britain’s people are mired in poverty.
Mr Hammond rejected the conclusion of a report by Philip Alston, the United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, that the poor in this country number 14 million.
The report also found that 1.5 million are “destitute” and accused the government of pursuing a “punitive, mean-spirited and often callous” agenda.
Mr Alston accused the government of violating human rights laws and its international obligations due to the effects of the widespread cuts to social care that have occurred since the Tories came to power. He said that Britain’s social conditions were “patently unjust.”
Shrugging off the findings, Mr Hammond told BBC’s Newsnight on Monday: “I reject the idea that there are vast numbers of people facing dire poverty in this country.
“I don’t accept the UN rapporteur’s report at all. I think that’s a nonsense. Look around you — that’s not what we see in this country.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused Mr Hammond of displaying “brutal complacency” over the “scale of human suffering” that the government’s austerity measures have caused since 2010.
He said: “Multimillionaire Hammond lives in a different world to the rest of us.
“Heartless, without compassion or any sense of humanity — after these remarks, he demonstrates he is not fit to hold office and should consider his position.
“It’s not just the United Nations. Human Rights Watch and others have commented on the poverty and inequality under this government.
“Meanwhile, Philip Hammond’s colleagues compete with each other to promise more tax cuts, showing how utterly out of touch the Conservatives are with the problems of today’s society.”
SNP MP Alison Thewliss has invited Mr Hammond to visit a foodbank in her Glasgow Central constituency to see the “real harm” that austerity is causing.
She said: “The climate of denial around Westminster is astounding. Instead of burying their heads in the sand, the Tories need to open their eyes to the problem in front of them and tackle the poverty crisis without delay.
“It is an undeniable fact that the policies of this Tory government have worsened the poverty crisis in the UK.”
Ms Thewliss called for full powers to be devolved to Holyrood to allow the Scottish government to deliver a social security system based on dignity and respect.
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