Speaking at a meeting as part of a conference of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which was reported by the Guardian, Alston said the focus of both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson on tax cuts for the rich would widen the UK’s already significant inequality gap.
While Johnson proposes cutting taxes for the wealthiest individuals, Hunt wants to cut them for employers, with slashes to both corporation tax and National Insurance. The Institute of Fiscal Studies has revealed that the cost to the state of their policies would be £10bn and £27bn, respectively.
Comparing the proposals to ones by Donald Trump, Alston warned the meeting that they would mean “even less money, not just to spend on the poor but on infrastructure and the middle classes”.
“Tax cuts on this level are a bid to dramatically increase inequality and benefit those who are already wealthy,” he said, adding that the UK already has “a major problem of poverty and the key issues remain unaddressed by the government”.
He criticised claims that the tax cuts proposed would spur economic growth, asserting that even conservative economists would agree with him that they are “counter-productive” to that aim, citing research by the International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which both found that inequality has a negative impact on growth.
“There is no evidence of … [wealth trickling down] … from any other country. The US tax cuts by Donald Trump have not trickled down. They have trickled up.”
Describing the current situation for the UK population, Alston said: “if you are successful, wealthy and have privilege behind you, you will do well and the government will help you in many ways … If you have problems you’re on your own. It is a philosophy and it is not one consistent with human rights.”
“I would like to see very significant change.”