Labour: Government has “failed” BAME people hit by Covid economic downturn

Andrew Kersley

Marsha de Cordova has argued that the government has “failed to act to protect Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities” after a new report has shown BAME people are almost three times as likely to have lost their job as a result of Covid.

Reacting to the research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published today, the Shadow Equalities Secretary said it was another example of how the government’s current economic policy “isn’t working”.

The IPPR study found that of all the people from minority ethnic groups who were employed or self-employed at the start of the crisis, 13% had lost their job by June – compared to 5% of the overall population.

Commenting on the report, de Cordova said: “This government has failed to act to protect Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities since this health crisis began six months ago. The government’s one-size-fits-all approach just isn’t working.

“They must introduce a job recovery scheme to replace furlough, so businesses in key sectors can bring back staff on reduced hours, and publish an equality impact assessment of the financial and social measures it has taken so far to protect and support people through the pandemic.”

The IPPR analysis suggested BAME people are most at risk from the economic impacts of Covid, describing the problem as a “double whammy” for a group previously found to be more at risk of dying from the virus.

BAME people were found to possess 50% more debt on average than the rest of the population and were twice as likely to have been unable to pay their bills since June, alongside being more likely to lose their job.

The report mirrors comments made by Gordon Brown at a conference event on Tuesday. The former Prime Minister said: “Black jobs don’t seem to matter to this government, as BAME unemployment heads up to 20%.”

IPPR economist and report author Shreya Nanda said: “Without further intervention, we are on course for a new debt crisis, from which Black, Asian and other minority ethnic people are particularly at risk.

“Many in these communities are likely to experience financial difficulty in the months ahead and to be vulnerable to eviction as a result of rent arrears.

“Such economic insecurity risks compounding the already disproportionate health impacts borne by people with minority ethnic backgrounds during this crisis – effectively a double whammy.”

The study also found that BAME people were almost 50% more likely to be renters than the wider population, meaning they will likely be more affected by the withdrawal of the government’s evictions ban that happened on Sunday.

Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire called on the government last week to extend the ban that was put in place to protect renters in the coronavirus pandemic, but Downing Street is yet to offer any further support.

Charities and campaign groups have estimated that more than 220,000 private renters have fallen into arrears and an estimated 60,000 eviction notices have been served to tenants during the crisis.

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