Cost of living crisis is a human rights crisis
The Scottish Human Rights Commission calls for action to prioritise economic, social and cultural rights for people in Scotland in a new report.
The Commission has sent a comprehensive report to the United Nations, identifying more than 100 issues in Scotland, where more could be done to ensure people’s human rights are respected and protected in line with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Priority issues include:
- Poverty rates are rising and 60 per cent of adults in Scotland living in poverty are in working households
- The right to food is hindered by the cost and availability of nutritious food; food insecurity is high and foodbank use has increased steadily
- Progress to implement a range of health policies has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and accessibility of health and social care has worsened significantly with some services struggling to meet demand
- School disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of progress on education reforms and a poverty-related attainment gap
- The new devolved Social Security system and agency in Scotland has a commitment to human rights but lacks legal protection
- Lack of affordable housing across Scotland in private and social rental sectors
Reporting on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (ICESCR) protects rights such as housing, health and education and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) oversees how countries are implementing these rights. Countries are reviewed every 4 to 5 years and the UK and Scotland are at the beginning of this process.
Key recommendations to Scottish Government:
- The Scottish Government must show it has properly considered everybody’s rights and targeted support fairly
- A human rights based approach can help governments and other responsible public bodies to do this
- One important tool is human rights budgeting, which supports the fair, effective and efficient generation and use of resources
Read more about human rights budgeting on our website.
Ian Duddy, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said:
“Human rights protect our basic living standards including housing, preventing poverty and ensuring access to good quality, affordable and nutritious food.”
“While everybody is affected by the cost of living, we aren’t affected equally. A human rights based approach can help governments and other public bodies consider everyone’s rights.
“Monitoring by the Scottish Human Rights Commission demonstrates not enough has been done to prioritise economic, social and cultural rights and the Scottish Government needs to show that it has properly considered the rights of everybody and targeted its support fairly.”
Notes to editors:
- As Scotland’s A-rated National Human Rights Institution, the Commission has a responsibility to monitor Scotland’s performance on international treaties and report to the United Nations.
- The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: OHCHR | Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- Our submission to CESCR supports the development of a list of issues for discussion prior to its review (LoI) of the UK and Northern Ireland in 2023.
- The report summarises the situation in Scotland from the last treaty review in 2016 to December 2022
- The Commission works with civil society organisations to find out about issues and concerns, and we collate and analyse this evidence before reporting it to the relevant UN Committee: International Treaty Monitoring | Scottish Human Rights Commission