Boyle K, Camps D, English K & Ferrie J (2022) The Practitioner Perspective on Access to Justice for Social Rights: Addressing the Accountability Gap. Nuffield Foundation. Access to Justice for Social Rights: Addressing the Accountability Gap. London.
First paragraph: This report examines access to justice for social rights across the UK drawing on legal and empirical data across each of the UK’s jurisdictions. Social rights form part of the international human rights framework, including the right to housing, the right to food and fuel and the right to social security. State parties who have signed up to the international framework are under an obligation to protect these rights in the domestic context, this includes the UK. As part of its international obligations the UK is required to provide access to an effective remedy if there is a failure to meet these obligations. We adopt a conceptualisation of access to justice using this international human rights law lens (that remedies are “accessible, affordable, timely and effective”). The research therefore examines whether people in the UK who experience a violation of the rights to housing, food, fuel or social security are able to access effective remedies to address that violation. We interviewed practitioners in each of the UK’s jurisdictions to better understand the access to justice journey for social rights. As this report demonstrates, it became clear that the UK and its devolved jurisdictions consists of a complex (legal) framework that intersects with international and domestic laws and institutions, politics, public services and the third sector, e.g. non-governmental agencies (NGOs) that serve and work with rights holders seeking to access justice. Our report recognises that the research we undertook barely touches the surface of access to justice for social rights violations and we hope this report serves as the basis for numerous future studies to enquire further and deeper into an increasingly emergent field of innovative interdisciplinary study. Ultimately, the aim of the research and the report seeks to better equip those who support rights holders accessing justice for social rights claims – there is a significant accountability gap in this respect across the UK and a pressing need to address this gap.