Brighton Law School blog

Knowing Your Economic and Social Rights

Have you ever considered what your basic rights are as a citizen of the United Kingdom? Would you assume that you had rights that cover the very basics of survival such as food and shelter? Well you don’t… These rights are considered social and economic rights which are not yet properly legislated in the United Kingdom.

Brexit, a reason to act
Let me just start this by saying that it is of absolutely no matter whether you support or oppose the decision of the referendum. The decision has been made and so we need to act to make certain that we benefit or, at the very least, are not worse off because of that decision. Now that the wheels are in motion to leave the EU, many are worried what that means. Well with regard to the rights already implemented into UK law, not a lot. BUT (and that is a big but), this will mean that citizens of the UK are no longer protected from the state by an external body. A little worrying but we can trust our state to look after us, right?

Maybe not?
In 2010 the Equality Act was enacted, but did you know that the Act that was created was slightly smaller than it was meant to be? Just before its enactment the coalition government decided that some sections should be “scrapped”, including the part which gave real force to social and economic rights. It is deemed too expensive to protect citizens from poverty and not important enough to warrant legislative action.

What does everyone else think?
In the United Nation’s ‘Concluding Observations’ in June 2016, they criticised the UK for its lack of social and economic rights in law. The U.N. also believed the National Living Wage was not sufficient and they expressed their concern for the heavy use of food banks and the rise in homelessness. Combine this with the price of housing and the stigma that is attached to those in poverty and you have a system which allows its citizens to be cast into the cold (which by the way has reached -9.7C, the coldest day in 6 years!).

What can you do to secure these BASIC essential rights?
(Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money)

Just Fair are a charity organisation whose aim is to secure social and economic rights not only for those that need them now, but for everyone (yes you too!) who will be protected by them if the worst was to occur. All you have to do to support this cause and fight for your rights is to help spread the word – Sign this petition to force the government to discuss these issues, talk about these issue with anyone and everyone, like and share Just-fair’s Facebook page or follow them on twitter to stay up to date on the matter. If you feel strongly about this issue then you can also write to your local MP here.

Obviously, this isn’t a one-sided argument, and criticisms can be made for both sides, but I will leave you to consider this;

… Imagine that everything was taken from everyone, and you had to start afresh with no possessions, class or creed. Would you want to live in a place that helped you to survive or one which left you to fend for yourself?

By Robert Carr

For more information:
Follow: @JustFairUK

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EqualityHRAHuman RightsSocial JusticeUnited Nations

Robert Carr • 01/12/2016

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