The Council of Europe has published its most recent report reviewing the conformity of the United Kingdom with the European Social Charter. (This is not a document from the European Union; the Council of Europe is an older organisation, established in 1949 to protect the rights of people throughout Europe.) In the section covering “the right to social security”, The report concludes
that the situation in United Kingdom is not in conformity with Article 12§1 of the Charter on the ground that:
- the minimum levels of short-term and long-term incapacity benefit is manifestly inadequate;
- the minimum level of state pension is manifestly inadequate;
- the minimum level of job seeker’s allowance is manifestly inadequate.
They are right, of course; provision in the UK is exceptionally low, it has been falling as a proportion of national income for several years, and many of the guarantees that used to underpin the system have been jettisoned. That hasn’t stopped the press and the Conservative backbenches from exploding.