UK sick pay shame

Statutory sick pay and Government assistance for jobless and self-employed people in the UK have been found to breach international legal obligations. The amount of money available to those claiming statutory sick pay and employment support allowance is “manifestly inadequate”, according to the guardians of an international charter, ratified by the UK in 1962.

It has been further ruled that a change in the law three years ago to lower the level of health and safety regulation that apply to the self-employed has created a discriminatory system that does not conform to the European social charter – a legally binding counterpart to the European convention on human rights.

The rulings were made last week by the European committee of social rights, a monitoring body of the 47-nation Council of Europe, an international organisation formed in the wake of the second world war to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The committee found that sick and unemployed people were, in many cases, receiving less than 40% of the median income in the UK, which it said was £152.22 a week, although some were in receipt of top-up payments.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Our welfare system is among the best in the world and we are committed to helping people improve their lives. We spend over £90bn a year supporting people of working age, including those who are out of work or on a low income.”

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