SCOTLAND has a stronger commitment to human rights than England, according to the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, who visited Glasgow and Edinburgh last week.

Alston, who is in the midst of a two week investigation into poverty and human rights in the UK, met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who aims to make adequate housing, food and welfare a legal human right in Scotland. Currently these rights are not written into domestic laws with no plans from the UK Government to do so.

Alston also met those with experience of living in poverty including women in Pilton, an economically deprived area of Edinburgh, and children and young people at Avenue End school, which serves some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland.

He is due to give his final recommendations – including specifics to Scotland – on Friday and is expected by many to find the UK Government in breach of human rights law.

Alston told The Sunday National: “In Scotland human rights have a different connotation than they do in England. In England they’ve been given a bad rep. In Scotland human rights are seen in a much more holistic way. I think British society can be seen to be about decency and fairness but in Scotland the future is likely to hold a much more systematic attitude to human rights.”

He also said he was struck by the difference between accounts given to him by the DWP – who claimed claimants were “relieved” to be put on to Universal Credit – and women on the new benefit.

“Most people [here] that I’ve spoken to have put emphasis on the problems with this digital by default system,” he added. “There’s a constant sense that they are going be cut off, that the system is so harsh that it plunges people into an impossible situation. Most people think they are treated in terms that are not kind or gentle or humane.”

Rebecca Parkes, 12, one of the young people representing Children in Scotland – and supported by Possibilities for Each and Every Kid (Peek) based in the east end of Glasgow – said she and others in the group wanted adults to recognise their strengths as well their sometimes difficult circumstances.

Rebecca, who is from the east end but attends school in the more affluent west end, said it was important that young people weren’t stigmatised because of where they came from. “That harms your confidence and that can leave you feeling bad about yourself and thinking bad thoughts,” she said. “It can effect you even as an adult.”

Staff from Peek told Alston that poverty was affecting many young people using their services, with children disclosing to workers that they sometimes went hungry or couldn’t afford sanitary products.