The government's 'austerity policies' have 'undoubtedly' made life more difficult for struggling families, the president of the Supreme Court has said in her second foray into political controversy this month.

In a speech on human rights and family life, Lady Hale addressed the question of whether the European Convention on Human Rights should cover economic and social rights. Noting that families are 'fighting for enough to live on and to make ends meet', she continued: 'The UK government’s austerity policies have undoubtedly made this worse and have posed some uncomfortable problems for the courts.'

The text of the speech, delivered last month before the Isle of Man Law Society, was released by the Supreme Court yesterday. Earlier this month remarks by Lady Hale about the Supreme Court's 2017 ruling in Miller - the article 50 case - attracted accusations that the court was becoming politicised.  

In her Isle of Man speech, the Caroline Weatherill Memorial Lecture, Lady Hale said that the European Court of Human Rights had made it clear that the convention does not require participating states to provide housing and welfare benefits. However 'what we do provide must be provided without unjustified discrimination'. This has been hampered by government policies that impact more harshly on women, children and disabled people than they do on other groups, she said. 

Hale concluded that, while parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights is currently inquiring into the experience of the Human Rights Act, 'I think that we can tell them that it has been something of a success for families and for their children'.