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The Modern Law Review has just published Legal protection against destitution in the UK: the case for a right to a subsistence minimum by Dr Mark Simpson, Prof Gráinne McKeever, and Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick.

According to the article abstract:

In a 2003 Supreme Court judgment, Lord Hoffmann argued that in the absence of a guaranteed minimum standard of living, many other rights are reduced to ‘a mockery’.

Given research findings that 2.4 million UK residents experienced destitution in 2019, this article considers whether a social floor exists in law and the implications of its absence or weakness for the standard of human rights protection in the UK.

The common law, social rights treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights can each play a role in identifying a minimum standard of living, but with variable precision, generosity and enforceability – and subject to the sovereign legislature setting its own social floor, including one that may render people destitute.

With an analysis of the case law revealing clear weaknesses in protection against destitution, the authors argue that a specific statutory duty is required to address this failure of rights protection.