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Structural racism led to worse Covid impact on BAME groups

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Minority ethnic people in UK were ‘overexposed, under protected, stigmatised and overlooked’, new review finds.

Structural racism led to the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, a review by Doreen Lawrence has concluded.

The report, commissioned by Labour, contradicts the government’s adviser on ethnicity, Dr Raghib Ali, who last week dismissed claims that inequalities within government, health, employment and the education system help to explain why COVID-19 killed disproportionately more people from minority ethnic communities.

Lady Lawrence’s review found BAME people are over-represented in public-facing industries where they cannot work from home, are more likely to live in overcrowded housing and have been put at risk by the government’s alleged failure to facilitate Covid-secure workplaces.

She demanded that the government set out an urgent winter plan to tackle the disproportionate impact of Covid on BAME people and ensure comprehensive ethnicity data is collected across the NHS and social care. The report, entitled An Avoidable Crisis, also criticises politicians for demonising minorities, such as when Donald Trump used the phrase “the Chinese virus”.

The report, which is based on submissions and conversations over Zoom featuring “heart-wrenching stories” as well as quantitative data, issued the following 20 recommendations:

  1. Set out an urgent plan for tackling the disproportionate impact of Covid on ethnic minorities
  2. Implement a national strategy to tackle health inequalities
  3. Suspend ‘no recourse to public funds’ during Covid
  4. Conduct a review of the impact of NRPF on public health and health inequalities
  5. Ensure Covid-19 cases from the workplace are properly recorded
  6. Strengthen Covid-19 risk assessments
  7. Improve access to PPE in all high-risk workplaces
  8. Give targeted support to people who are struggling to self-isolate
  9. Ensure protection and an end to discrimination for renters
  10. Raise the local housing allowance and address the root causes of homelessness
  11. Urgently conduct equality impact assessments on the government’s Covid support schemes
  12. Plan to prevent the stigmatisation of communities during Covid-19
  13. Urgently legislate to tackle online harms
  14. Collect and publish better ethnicity data
  15. Implement a race equality strategy
  16. Ensure all policies and programmes help tackle structural inequality
  17. Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting
  18. End the ‘hostile environment’
  19. Reform the curriculum
  20. Take action to close the attainment gap

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Source: The Guardian, 28 October 2020

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