Practitioners will be interested to see the conclusions of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as to the UK's implementation of these entitlements. Whilst some legislation - for example the Care Act 2014- receives a welcome, there are also serious concerns about the impact of current policy. On austerity the Committee stated:
1. The Committee is seriously concerned about the disproportionate adverse impact that austerity measures, introduced since 2010, are having on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups. The Committee is concerned that the State party has not undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impact of such measures on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, in a way that is recognized by civil society and national independent monitoring mechanisms (art. 2, para. 1).
2.The Committee reminds the State party of its obligations under the Covenant to use the maximum of its available resources, with a view to progressively achieving the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee draws the State party’s attention to the recommendations contained in its open letter of 16 May 2012 to States parties on economic, social and cultural rights in the context of the economic and financial crisis, with regard to the criteria for austerity measures. Such measures must be temporary, necessary, proportionate, and not discriminatory and must not disproportionately affect the rights of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups and respect the core content of rights. In that context, the Committee recommends that the State party review 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 that is recognized by all stakeholders.
On Legal aid:
3.The Committee is concerned that the reforms to the legal aid system and the introduction of employment tribunal fees have restricted access to justice, in areas such as employment, housing, education and social welfare benefits (art. 2).
4.The Committee recommends that the State party review the impact of the reforms to the legal aid system with a view to ensuring access to justice and the provision of free legal aid services, in particular for disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups. The Committee takes note of the information provided by the State party on the on-going review of the employment tribunal fees and recommends the elimination of such fees.
Further concerns were expressed about working conditions, poverty and the persistent under-representation of women in public life.
CESCR - International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 58 Session (06 Jun 2016 - 24 Jun 2016)