Protecting Human Rights in Austerity Claims in the UK
In many ways, writing about the economic crisis in the UK is telling a story about the past. Recently, media and scholars have been reporting that a successful economic recovery is upon us, that the double dip recession is over and that a slow but steady expansion of the UK economy is already taking place. To put it simply, the UK appears to be out of the economic crisis. Yet, although the economy has improved, the politics of the current conservative government is still very much focused on limiting social benefits and entitlements, a move that could have been explained during the economic crisis, but one that is now questionable. In this regard, although this article appears to be about the past, it is in fact about the present—it is about the effects of the economic crisis, about the government’s treatment of our most vulnerable people both during and out of a recession, and about our conception of the rule of law. The article how the adoption of a rights based approach has already changed the treatment of austerity claims in the UK. Recent constitutional developments in the UK (including the discussions about the repeal of the Human Rights Act and the adoption of a new Bill of Rights) and the danger of withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights make the focus on this jurisdiction especially interesting. The obvious question that arises is whether a human rights based approach is dependent on the UK being a member of the Convention. The article investigates the impact of the Human Rights Act on the current English constitutional climate and reveals the expanded potential for rights protection.
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/N000927/1)