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Unequal impact of coronavirus: three new inquiries launched

10 June 2020

The Women and Equalities Committee launches the impact on BAME people, gendered impact, disability and access to service inquiries.

Back in March, the Committee called for evidence of the impact of coronavirus and the Government's response on different groups in society. It has received over 500 submissions, and it is already clear that these are three areas where the committee can potentially have the most timely and effective  impact on Government plans and policy.

The inquiries will draw on evidence which the committee has already received so evidence already submitted to the Unequal impact inquiry launched in March will be used for these sub-inquiries.

Further evidence can be submitted by 10 July (Coronavirus and BAME people) and 13 July (disability and gendered impact inquiries).

Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people

Committee Chair Caroline Nokes said:

“BAME people are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This has been shown by several studies and most recently Public Health England. But we have heard nothing from the Government about what action it plans to take.

There is a real urgency here. Our inquiry will give a platform to the lived experience of BAME people during the pandemic, explore existing inequalities, and suggest ways for the Government to mitigate impacts of the pandemic on BAME people.”

The inquiry will:

  • Investigate the factors that made BAME communities vulnerable to the effects of the virus, for example overcrowded housing, health inequality and deprivation;
  • Understand and analyse the impact of the virus on BAME communities, for example exposure and higher death rates
  • Examine the impact that Government measures to contain the virus have had on BAME people, for example difficulty in self isolating, being key workers, loss of income;
  • Discuss what further steps can be taken to mimise the impact on BAME people.
  • The inquiry may also explore other impacts including a reported rise in hate crimes, no recourse to public funds, over/under policing, unconscious bias in educational settings, inaccessible Government guidance for people whose first language is not English.

Unequal Impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services

Committee Chair Caroline Nokes said:

“Coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolation and other emergency measures have already had a severe effect on disabled people. Access to essential public services is a huge problem, for example for people with complex disabilities and communication support needs. There have even been reports of problems with access to food.

We want to understand the lived experience of disabled people so that we can make robust proposals to Government. Restrictions that severely affect people's daily lives must be fully justified and clearly communicated, and hard-won rights must be protected.”

The inquiry will look at a range of issues which disabled people are facing during the pandemic:

  • The effectiveness and accessibility of Government communications and consultation;
  • Access to food and the effectiveness of the Government's response to reported problems;
  • Access to healthcare services, including treatment for COVID-19;
  • The mental health of disabled people including the effects of isolation, access to mental health services and the implications of temporary changes to the Mental Health Act;
  • Social care for disabled people in their homes and in residential care settings, including the effects of easements to duties in the Care Act in relation to social care and the approach to monitoring and reviewing these
  • Access to education

Unequal Impact? Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact

Committee Chair Caroline Nokes said:

“Evidence shows that the economic impact has been experienced differentially by women – and in many respects, more severely. Women are more likely to have primary responsibility for childcare. They are more likely to work in the service sector, and to be in insecure or zero hours work. And more likely  to be more dependent on social security, and in insecure housing. They are over-represented in jobs which are not eligible for statutory sick pay.

We also know that the gendered impact may vary by ethnic group and that in some BAME communities, it is men who are most likely to work in shut-down sectors. We must consider what needs to change in the short and long term as the country emerges from the pandemic.”

The inquiry will look at:

  • What measures the Government should put in place to ensure gender equality in the longer term economic recovery from Coronavirus, with specific reference to any upcoming financial announcements;
  • How the economic impact of Coronavirus has affected men and women differently
  • The extent to which the different impacts on men and women reflect existing sex or gender-based inequalities
  • How Government measures have affected economic inequalities for men and women?
  • Effectiveness of the Government's economic support package for particular groups of men and women?
  • The specific economic impact on men and women with other protected characteristics or intersecting identities (for example, women or men with disabilities; women and men from BAME communities; pregnant women)

Further information

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