It took a UN envoy to hear how austerity is destroying lives | Aditya Chakrabortty

Philip Alston’s inquiry into poverty in the UK has heard a shocking truth that British politicians refuse to acknowledge

The room is packed, people spilling out of the doors. The atmosphere crackles. So it should, for this is what it feels like when an entire society is held to account. Over 12 days, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights is touring not Bangladesh nor Sudan but the UK. And what Philip Alston has discovered in the fifth-richest country on Earth should shame us all. From Newcastle to Jaywick, he has uncovered stories of families facing homelessness, of people too scared to eat, of those on benefits contemplating suicide.

Related: ‘A political choice’: UN envoy says UK can help all who hit hard times

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