Equality and Human Rights Commission – Written Evidence (LBC0167)

Table of contents

 

 

1. Introduction

2. Levelling-up and ‘building back better’

3. Clear leadership and vision for a fairer society

4. Addressing labour market inequality to support economic recovery

5. Caring for people in the most vulnerable situations

Annex: Proposals for strengthening the PSED

Further information

Policy leads:


1. Introduction

1.     The Equality and Human Rights Commission is Britain’s national equality body and human rights institution. We are the regulator responsible for enforcing the Equality Act 2010 which prohibits discrimination against people with one or more ‘protected characteristics’.[1] We also have powers to advise Government on the equality and human rights implications of laws and proposed laws, and to publish information or provide advice, including to Parliament, on any matter related to equality, diversity and human rights.[2]

2.     The pandemic has exposed and in some cases exacerbated many of the entrenched inequalities already apparent in Britain.[3] We have been working to provide advice to Government and Parliament, as well as regulators, public bodies, business and non-governmental organisations on the steps we think are needed to protect people in the most vulnerable situations from the immediate effects of the crisis. We are also using our unique enforcement powers to drive appropriate responses from organisations where we think it is necessary.

3.     We also know the effects of this crisis will be lasting, both on people from different backgrounds and more broadly on equality and human rights. We welcome this inquiry because we know it is important to look at life beyond Covid-19 and use this moment as an opportunity to actively plan for a recovery that addresses inequalities for those who keep getting left behind.

Positive change

4.     In many ways the crisis has demonstrated the value and importance of equality and human rights. We have seen this particularly clearly in the way some individuals and employers have responded. Organisations around the world, including the Commission itself, have adapted quickly and radically to different ways of working. Whilst this has posed its own challenges,[4] and some employers have evidently struggled,[5] it demonstrates how far employers can go to adapt to unique circumstances. This should set a high bar for what can be expected of employers in the future when it comes to reasonable adjustments for disabled people or creating more family friendly workplaces to accommodate the needs of people with caring responsibilities and facilitate women’s participation in the labour market.

5.     We also know the crisis has meant many public authorities have had to make hard decisions that significantly impact people’s lives. We are pleased to see some organisations using equality and human rights frameworks to get the balance right.[6] These tools can assist decision makers in complex areas like education, health, work and social security by prioritising key principles such as participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and legality.[7] Equality and human rights laws provide a vital safety net and a flexible framework that can respond appropriately in a crisis.[8] It is vital these principles and frameworks continue to be at the heart of our longer-term recovery. This will help to ensure it is not just some communities who end up benefitting from government intervention during pandemic recovery but also that future crises or major changes, such as Brexit, can be dealt with fairly by public authorities.

6.     The crisis has driven home the importance of fundamental rights for all. Conversations about rights have enjoyed a new prominence across all media channels. We have seen growing public appreciation for the need to protect core socio-economic rights, including rights to education, health and an adequate standard of living. This has been demonstrated by widespread and high profile public support for the frontline workers who make these rights a reality with initiatives like ‘Clap for Carers’ and ‘Rainbows for the NHS’.[9] Our hope is that the pandemic has kindled fresh understanding and support for equality and human rights as core principles that can guide us as a nation.

Our concerns for the future

7.     As we look to the future it is essential to take account of the fact that the immediate effects of the pandemic have already hit some people harder than others. The disparities have been most stark in terms of mortality: people living in more deprived areas have experienced Covid-19 death rates more than double those living in less deprived areas;[10] and the risk of death for Black males has been more than three times higher than White males and nearly two and a half times higher for Black females than White females.[11] We are also deeply concerned about the impact on older and disabled people; over 22,000 disabled people died from COVID-19 in England and Wales – representing almost two-thirds of all deaths from COVID-19 in England in Wales between 2 March and 15 May.[12]

8.     In our response to the Women and Equalities Committee we set out our concerns about the disproportionate impacts on people who share certain protected characteristics.[13] These ranged from concerns about life-threatening restrictions on access to treatment for older and disabled people, through to reports of increasing domestic violence and fears around provision of basic water and sanitation to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. We have also raised concerns that existing labour market inequalities are being exacerbated as Britain deals with the immediate impact of recession.[14] 

9.     Our overarching concern is that the crisis could entrench these inequalities in the longer-term, leaving lasting scars for years to come. Even before the crisis, persistent disadvantages facing certain groups were failing to close, leaving the playing field far from level. Our state of the nation report, ‘Is Britain Fairer? 2018’, found that prospects for disabled people, some ethnic minorities and children from poorer backgrounds had worsened in many areas of life. Concern about sexual harassment was growing, older people and disabled people were less likely to be treated with dignity in social care and poverty remained high for women, disabled people and some ethnic minorities.[15]

10. Many of these inequalities played out even more clearly at a regional level. Our analysis in England found that severe material deprivation was higher in the North East and North West than in England as a whole.[16] Pakistani adults in the North West had particularly high rates of severe material deprivation and in the North East 25% of adults in general and half of all disabled adults experienced severe material deprivation. Without targeted action we think these regional gaps are likely to be exacerbated by the post-pandemic economic downturn.

11. Despite our fears, we firmly believe that the recovery from this crisis offers Government an opportunity to build a society where everyone can thrive, regardless of their background. It is imperative Government puts equality and human rights at the heart of its strategy in order to make this a reality.

12. Below we have set out key steps we consider would support Government to mitigate the disproportionate impact of the crisis in the longer term and deliver on its commitment to ‘build back better’ by improving its approach to equality and human rights.


2. Levelling-up and ‘building back better’

14. We welcome the Government’s commitment to ‘level-up’ and to ‘build back better’ following this crisis. It is essential Government looks at these ambitions through the lens of protected characteristic groups to ensure it is not only certain communities that end up benefitting. Equality and human rights have to be built into the associated investment, decision-making and progress measurement if this promise is going to be delivered effectively.

15. Evidence shows that including equality requirements in strategic investment frameworks and contracts can deliver results in terms of equality and human rights and ensure a lasting legacy which benefits local communities. Research into the ‘Women in Construction’ project at the London 2012 Olympic Park demonstrated that public procurement can be a powerful tool to break down gender segregation, particularly where contractors are incentivised to deliver clear objectives on diversity and inclusion.[17] The opportunity to invest in new infrastructure can also leave a lasting legacy for disabled people if accessibility is a central plank in procurement.

16. HS2 Ltd recently highlighted the positive impact this approach can have on small and medium sized enterprises, across supply chains, as a result of requiring them to demonstrate a commitment to equality and diversity in the investment process. The video, produced with Crowders, showcased how one Lincolnshire-based nursery changed its practices in order to win a contract for 7 million trees to be planted along part of the route.[18] The company was prompted to introduce a new equality and diversity policy, analyse its own diversity data on recruitment and employment and seek training for staff on implementing workplace equality.

17. Whilst this is only one example, it serves to demonstrate the potential impact when equality considerations are front and centre in procurement.[19] In order to harness this potential through crisis recovery investment, it is vital equality considerations are integrated at all stages of the investment cycle, from planning through to delivery; that decisions are based on a sound understanding of the local and regional dynamics and demographics; and that robust mechanisms are in place to monitor and track outcomes. This approach goes far beyond infrastructure investment because it ultimately means investment in social capital – an essential ingredient for a sustainable economic recovery. 

18. Recommendation: Government must put equality at the heart of its post-pandemic investment strategies, ensuring meaningful equality conditions are built into strategic frameworks and contracts and that delivery is monitored robustly.

19. In addition to investment, it is vital that all decision makers in the public sector are pushing in the same direction and using existing tools to strategically address the underlying inequalities that are prevalent across protected characteristic groups. One such tool is the Socio-economic Duty which should sit at the centre of the Government’s strategy to ‘level-up’.

20. The Socio-economic Duty in Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010 provides a framework for public authorities to address the socio-economic disadvantage that sits beneath, and often compounds, inequalities across protected characteristics. It does this by requiring decision makers to have due regard to the need to reduce inequalities resulting from socio-economic disadvantage when making strategic decisions.[20] Whilst many public authorities will undoubtedly be doing this already, the duty provides a safety net to guarantee these important considerations cannot be forgotten and slip off the agenda. It is vital to ensuring an equitable recovery in the long run.

21. The duty is not in force in England but has been implemented in Scotland and will come in to force in Wales in 2021. We welcome the move by some local and combined authorities in England to voluntarily implement the duty, including Newcastle Council and North of Tyne Combined Authority.

22. Recommendation: Government should bring the socio-economic duty into force at the earliest opportunity and use it to strengthen and focus the public sector’s capacity to rebuild beyond Covid-19.

23. An integral part of transitioning to life beyond Covid-19 must be in how we measure progress so that the health of our recovery is robustly and comprehensively understood. In order to do this, it is time we reassess how we measure what good looks like and, consequently, go on to identify priority areas for action.  Economic indicators alone will fail to give us the full picture, especially when it comes to equality and human rights. A much more nuanced approach is needed that properly takes account of the population’s wellbeing.

24. In recent years we have developed a measurement framework that does this by looking at six areas of life, including education, work, living standards, health, justice and personal security and participation. It measures equality of opportunity and the extent to which people are living fulfilling lives.[21]

25. Recommendation: Government should use the Commission’s measurement framework for equality and human rights as part of a wider approach to track and measure progress as we recover from the crisis and attempt to ‘level up’


3. Clear leadership and vision for a fairer society

26. Government will need strong leadership on equality and a commitment to strengthening the existing legal framework if it wants to tackle some of the entrenched inequalities that have been exposed by the crisis. This approach is needed across all nine protected characteristics, however it is clear that there is an urgent need to address race inequality. Coronavirus has wrought disproportionate and devastating health impacts on certain ethnic minority groups and it is our view that these are inextricably linked to long-standing and interlocking racial inequalities across many areas of life.[22]

27. In our evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry ‘Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people’ we set out steps Government should take to address our concerns related to race inequalities in healthcare, education, housing, employment and the justice system.[23] Action in one area alone will do little to address the cumulative and overlapping effects of racial inequality and a strategic approach that looks across these issues is needed.

28. We consider this to be the key missing piece when it comes to the Government’s approach to race equality. In 2017 we set out our vision for a clear strategy with our ‘Roadmap to Race Equality’ and called on the Government to develop a comprehensive race strategy, using our plan as the blueprint.[24] Scotland already has a race strategy and the Welsh Government has committed to delivering one, yet the UK Government has not pursued this on race equality.[25]

29. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the need for action and leadership across different areas of life, reflecting calls from ethnic minority leaders - including Lord Woolley of Woodford - demanding a race equality strategy from Government.[26]

30. Recommendation: Government should develop a comprehensive, coordinated and long-term race equality strategy for England designed to tackle the most persistent and systemic racial inequalities. This must be backed up with adequate resources, clear targets and timescales and mechanisms to hold Government to account over progress and delivery. Responsibility for the strategy should sit centrally in the Cabinet Office to effectively coordinate activity across government.

31. The Public Sector Equality Duty (‘PSED’) is another existing lever that could be strengthened by the Government to improve how public authorities take action to address inequalities across the nine protected characteristics, including on race. This is a positive duty that requires public authorities to promote equality across their activity. It is supported by ‘specific duties’ set out under secondary legislation that requires public authorities to publish one or more equality objectives for their organisation.

32. The duty has its roots in the Macpherson report following the racist murder of Black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, and aimed to push public authorities to proactively tackle institutional discrimination within their own organisations.[27] Despite the intention that the PSED would drive change on the starkest inequalities across different sectors, our research on its implementation suggests this has not been done consistently.[28] All too often, public authorities treat the PSED as a tick-box exercise and focus on internally facing equality objectives under the specific duties such as delivering equality training for staff. We consider that equality objectives should be aimed at reducing real world outcomes that are evident in organisation’s own data or in evidence from their policy area.

33. We have developed proposals to amend the specific duties to require public authorities to set, publish and pursue equality objectives that focus on the most significant inequalities relevant to the people who interact with their functions. It would require Ministers to publish national equality priorities in each sector and require public authorities to set their equality objectives in a way that pursues those priorities, publishing action plans and information on progress.

34. We have set out our proposals in more detail, alongside a worked example, in the Annex below and invite the Committee to endorse them. All public authorities can take action in line with our proposals ahead of any legislative change and we are encouraging more to do so.

35. Recommendation: Government should review and strengthen the specific duties underpinning the PSED to ensure public bodies are required to focus on the most significant inequalities for people affected by their functions.

4. Addressing labour market inequality to support economic recovery

36. Every workplace in Britain has been affected by Coronavirus. This is having a cumulative impact on groups of people who share certain protected characteristics and who already had very different experiences in the workplace.[29] Whilst men have suffered higher rates of serious illness and mortality from the virus, we have particular concern that the long-term impact of the crisis will fall on women in terms of labour market participation, financial security and the gender pay gap.[30] 

37. Women are more likely than men to be in part time or low paid work, and accordingly may have access to fewer employment rights such as sick pay because they do not earn enough. Women are also over-represented in sectors that have been shut down during the crisis and those sectors significantly affected by social distancing measures, such as hospitality and non-essential retail, where we are seeing rapid job losses.[31] Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies recently found that British mothers were 23% more likely than fathers to have temporarily or permanently become unemployed during the pandemic.[32]

38. Women also bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities[33], and as such have either struggled to juggle work, or have had to reduce their hours or in some cases even leave employment because of the closure of schools and childcare settings.[34]

39. Recommendation: Government must consider the specific economic impacts of the pandemic on women, including younger, disabled and ethnic minority women, particularly those who are low-paid, and where necessary, target support to sectors that have been disproportionately impacted, for example early years childcare, to mitigate the long term impact.

40. Britain has entered a period of significant recession and our analysis of previous recessions has shown that women often face the brunt of the impact during economic downturns. Women with childcare responsibilities in the recent recession were at a greater disadvantage than either men or other women in continuous employment.[35] Our research into pregnancy and maternity discrimination has also found that 1 in 20 pregnant workers or those on, or recently returning from, maternity leave experienced redundancy.[36]

41. We believe economic recovery plans and employer responses need to address the specific economic constraints facing women. The Government needs to address labour market inequality, remove the barriers facing women in employment and create conditions for better economic participation for women. This includes making a commitment to ensuring the provision of affordable, flexible childcare, stepping away from insecure employment and encouraging the creation of good work at real living wage levels, so that women are able to contribute their skills and experience to securing Britain’s economic recovery.

42. Many of these issues were addressed in the Government’s Good Work Plan and Gender Equality at Every Stage Roadmap,[37] however, in light of the pandemic, we believe this plan should be reassessed.

43. Recommendation: Government should publish details on progress against its commitments in its Gender Equality Roadmap and set out plans for revising the roadmap in light of the longer-term economic recovery planning. It should also introduce flexible working as a day one right, and progress its other commitments in the Good Work Plan.

 

 


5. Caring for people in the most vulnerable situations

44. The impact of this crisis has been particularly acute for older and disabled people, many of whom have had to shield during the crisis and face significant barriers to accessing essential services. In addition to the major public health challenges facing these groups, the crisis has led to significant restrictions to the human rights and freedoms we all have, including the right to independent living.[38]

45. We are particularly concerned about the impact of Covid-19 in care homes. There were more than 18,500 care home deaths in England and Wales involving Covid-19 up to 12 June, accounting for almost 40 per cent of all deaths related to the virus.[39] Overall, there were 57,588 deaths in care homes during this period, which represents approximately 26,230 ‘excess’ deaths compared with previous years.[40] The mortality rate for care home residents was significantly higher than for other people of the same age[41] and data indicates a disproportionate impact on those from ethnic minorities.[42] Almost half of all care home deaths involving Covid-19 were of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.[43]

46. We also have significant concerns about the withdrawal of healthcare and restrictions on family visits, and the impact of decisions about care home admissions, testing and infection control measures (for example, the effect of isolation on people with dementia).[44]

47. It is clear that Government must learn from this tragic loss of life and ensure that in the longer-term, practices, policy and procedures are improved to ensure that future crises that risk disproportionately affecting older and disabled people are handled better.

48. Recommendation: Government should undertake or commission an urgent review into the disproportionate deaths of disabled people and of older people in care homes respectively so that future mistakes can be avoided.

49. We were also highly concerned about the easements introduced under the Coronavirus Act 2020 that enabled local authorities in England to suspend their duties under the Care Act 2014. While our concerns that these easements would be widely triggered have to date not materialised,[45] we are concerned by reports that local social care provision has nonetheless significantly reduced,[46] with wide-ranging implications for human rights.[47]

50. At a time when older and disabled people were facing the brunt of the crisis, their rights were being taken away. It is vital that Government restores faith amongst older and disabled people that their rights will be protected in the future. Recommendation: Government should repeal provision for Care Act easements in the Coronavirus Act 2020 at the earliest opportunity and increase its oversight of all changes to social care provision in local areas to ensure recovery planning is informed by accurate and up-to-date information. These steps are vital to restore faith amongst older and disabled people that their rights will be protected in the future. 

51. The crisis has raised serious questions about how our society values older and disabled people’s contributions and respects their rights, dignity and autonomy. We are considering how we can use our powers to ensure the rights of older and disabled people are protected during and beyond the pandemic, and we have made a number of initial recommendations to embed equality and human rights in planning ahead of a potential second wave.[48] Recommendation: Government should bring forward long-awaited proposals to reform social care as soon as possible, including residential and community-based care for older people and disabled people of all ages. These proposals should be underpinned by principles of dignity, respect, equality and with a view to full incorporation and realisation of the right to independent living.[49]


Annex: Proposals for strengthening the PSED

The Public Sector Equality Duty has its roots in the Macpherson Report into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and the subsequent police investigation. The PSED was envisaged as a powerful tool for tackling systemic discrimination, but as we approach the duty’s 10th anniversary it is clear that, while it has led to some positive change, it has not fully lived up to this vision.

We have identified four core issues with the way many public authorities currently set their equality objectives to comply with the PSED, which mean it is not reaching its potential:

The specific duties of the PSED are set out in secondary legislation (which differs in England, Scotland and Wales) and we have been working on proposals to reform them. We want to make it clearer and easier for public authorities to comply with the duty, driving a more strategic response that encourages public authorities to set evidence-based and outcomes-focused equality objectives that target the most pressing inequalities.

Our draft proposals

  1. Ministers should be required to publish equality priorities for their department or sectors, using key evidence including our Is Britain Fairer? report
  2. Public authorities should be required to publish objectives in pursuit of these priorities, unless context justifies a different approach (‘comply or explain’ model)
  3. Public authorities should be required to take positive action to achieve the set objectives unless context justifies otherwise (‘comply or explain’ model)
  4. Public authorities, when procuring goods and services, should be required to use purchasing power to achieve their equality objectives unless they can explain why it is not appropriate (‘comply or explain’)
  5. Public bodies should be required to publish action plans and measure and publish progress against objectives, using guidance from Ministers
  6. Bodies with responsibility for regulating, inspecting or auditing public authorities should be required to oversee progress in relation to relevant key findings in Is Britain Fairer?

We are also considering whether some of the existing specific duties should be amended to encourage public bodies to focus on taking action to promote equality.

The impact of these proposals

These proposals would mean that:

How this would work in practice

All schools would set themselves equality objectives and action plans to reduce these gaps (or explain why they weren’t appropriate for that particular school) and publish their progress in terms of action and outcomes, and Ofsted would inspect schools’ progress towards reducing these attainment gaps.

27 August 2020

 

 

 


[1] Chapter 1, Equality Act 2010 sets out nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

[2] Equality Act 2006. References to Government, Departments and Ministers throughout this submission refer to the UK Government, Departments and Ministers, except where specified.

[3] Our most recent ‘Is Britain Fairer?’ report, published in 2018, found that there are serious challenges that must be addressed in respect of access to justice, hate crime and sexual harassment, and that child poverty has increased and the inequalities resulting from socio-economic disadvantage are seriously affecting many people’s lives. We continue to review the evidence concerning the impact of the crisis on different groups. We plan to publish a short report in the autumn highlighting those inequalities we view as having been particularly exacerbated by the pandemic.

[4] For example, we are aware of concerns that the increase in remote working is leading to instances of online harassment: Centenary Action Group (April 2020) Written evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into Coronavirus and the impact on people with protected characteristics [accessed: 14 Aug 2020]

[5] We highlighted our concerns about some employers in previous parliamentary evidence: EHRC, (2020) Evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee Inquiry on the Impact of Coronavirus on Businesses and Workers.

[6] For instance, we welcome steps taken by the Mayor of Hackney which included using a community impact assessment and analysis of equality issues to underpin its longer term recovery planning and immediate crisis response. The CQC have also used equality and human rights frameworks to assess their response. Both examples were identified in discussions with these public authorities.

[7] This list refers to key human rights principles, however we have also produced specific guidance on the Public Sector Equality Duty. See for example our guidance: EHRC (2015) ‘Making fair financial decisions: Guidance for decision-makers’ [accessed: 14 Aug 2020]

[8] See for example Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the right freedom of assembly and association. Article 11(2) provides for limitation of this right ‘for the protection of health’ and is incorporated under domestic law in the Human Rights Act 1998.

[9] Clap for Carers (March 2020) ‘Get involved: Clap For Carers’; NHS England (June 2020) ‘Rainbows for the NHS’ [accessed: 17 Aug 2020]

[10] Office for National Statistics (1 May 2020)Deaths involving COVID-19 by local area and socioeconomic deprivation: deaths occurring between 1 March and 17 April 2020

[11] Office for National Statistics (19 June 2020) ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by ethnic group, England and Wales: 2 March 2020 to 15 May 2020’

[12] 30.3 per cent of all deaths involving COVID-19 in this period were among people who said their daily activities were ‘limited a lot’ by a health problem or disability, and 28.9 per cent of all deaths were among people who said activities were ‘limited a little’. Office for National Statistics (19 June 2020), ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by disability status, England and Wales: 2 March to 15 May 2020’.

[13] EHRC (May 2020) ‘Evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on coronavirus

[14] EHRC, (2020) Evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee Inquiry on the Impact of Coronavirus on Businesses and Workers.

[15] EHRC (2018), ‘Is Britain Fairer? (2018)’.

[16] EHRC (2018), ‘Is England Fairer? (2018’. 

[17] Wright T, Conley H, Sage Journals, (2018), ‘Advancing gender equality in the construction sector through public procurement: Making effective use of responsive regulation’. See also Equally Ours (2018), ‘Shared Prosperity, Shared Rights-Replacing EU funding for Equality and Human Rights After Brexit’. These calls have also been made by civil society organisations representing equality bodies. See: Equally Ours (30 June 2020), ‘Time for a new deal for equality’.

[18] HS2 Ltd (17 July 2017), ‘HS2 SME Supplier Case Study – Crowders

[19] HS2 Ltd’s latest quarterly performance data shows that 21.5% of those employed through its supply chain are female and 17.7% are from Black, Asian or other Ethnic Minority communities. Analysis of official statistics by GMB, the union for construction workers, show that the percentage of women working in the construction industry is just 12.5%, whilst Black, Asian or other Ethnic Minority people are just 5.4% of those working in the sector: Global Railway Review (7 May 2020), ‘HS2 achieves Gold Standard for workforce equality and diversity

[20] Section 1(1) of the Equality Act 2010: “An authority to which this section applies must, when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise its functions, have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.”

[21] EHRC (October 2017), ‘Measurement framework for equality and human rights.

[22] For a comprehensive overview of our concerns related to inequalities faced by ethnic minorities during the pandemic, see: EHRC (10 July 2020), ‘Evidence to Women and Equalities Committee inquiry: “Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people”’ [unpublished on date of submission]. See also: EHRC (1 May 2010), ‘Evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics.

[23] EHRC (10 July 2020), ‘Evidence to Women and Equalities Committee inquiry: “Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people”’. See also: EHRC (1 May 2010), ‘Evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics.

[24] We made this recommendation in our Roadmap to Race Equality. See: EHRC (2017), ‘Roadmap to race equality’. 

[25] Scottish Government (2017) A fairer Scotland for all: race equality action plan and highlight report 2017 – 2021; The Welsh Government committed to develop and deliver a Wales race action plan: ‘Welsh Parliament plenary (June 3, 2020), para 108.

[26] A race equality strategy for England is also the recommendation of various stakeholders in England, including Lord Woolley of Woodford: Operation Black Vote (27 May 2020), ‘BAME Leadership Demand COVID-19 Race Equality Strategy.

[27] W. Macpherson (1999), ‘The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry’.

[28] EHRC (2018), 'Reviewing the aims and effectiveness of the public sector equality duty in Great Britain'.

[29] Equality Human Rights Commission (13 July 2020), ‘Evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee sub-inquiry on the gendered economic impact’.

[30] Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (31 July 2020), ‘ICNARC report on COVID-19 in critical care’.

[31] Centre for Retail Research (June 2020) The crisis in retailing. The CRR estimates there will be over 235,000 job losses in the retail sector in 2020.

[32] Institute for Fiscal Studies (2020) ‘Covid-19 and inequalities

[33] Almost 3 in 10 mothers report reducing their working hours for childcare reasons, compared with 1 in 20 fathers. See: ONS (2019) Families and the labour market. The Resolution Foundation notes that 39% of working mothers were key workers before the crisis began, compared to just 27% of the working population as a whole. See: Resolution Foundation (April 2020), Economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis on different groups of workers.

[34] Pregnant Then Screwed (February 2020), Cost of childcare. 

[35] T. Hogarth et al, EHRC (2009) The Equality Impacts of the Current Recession.

[36] EHRC and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2016) Pregnancy and maternity related discrimination: experiences of mothers.

[37] UK Government (2018), Good work plan; Government Equalities Office (2019), Gender equality at every stage: a roadmap for change.

[38] The UK Government has a UN treaty obligation to protect, respect and fulfil the right to independent living. See: UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 19. However, the right is not currently incorporated into domestic law. We have developed a proposed legal model for the domestic incorporation of the right to independent living and are calling on the Government to implement it. See: EHRC (May 2019), ‘Supplementary evidence to the JCHR inquiry into the detention of children and young people with learning disabilities and / or autism

[39] ONS (2020), ‘Deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector, England and Wales: deaths occurring up to 12 June 2020 and registered up to 20 June 2020 (provisional), figure 2; and ONS (2020), ‘Comparison of weekly death occurrences in England and Wales: up to week ending 26 June 2020, figure 1. There were reportedly 46,604 deaths involving COVID-19 in England up to 12 June, including 18,562 among care home residents (39.8 per cent). This includes care home residents who have died in care homes and in hospitals. The ONS definition of "deaths involving COVID-19" is those deaths that had COVID-19 mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, whether as an underlying cause or not.

[40] ONS (2020), ‘Deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector, England and Wales: deaths occurring up to 12 June 2020 and registered up to 20 June 2020 (provisional), figure 12. There were 57,588 deaths in care homes from 2 March to 12 June (including deaths related to COVID-19), compared with an average of 31,357 deaths each year for the same period from 2015 to 2019.

[41] Ibid, figure 8. For example, for men aged 65-74 in England the mortality rate in COVID-19 related deaths was 5,392.1 per 100,000 people for care home residents, compared with 133.1 per 100,000 people for non-care home residents. It is not clear to what extent the characteristics of the care home population, including prevalence of comorbidities and greater clinical frailty, explain these differences.

[42] CQC (2020), ‘CQC publishes data on deaths in care settings broken down by ethnicity. While the vast majority of all reported deaths across adult social care were White people, the proportion of deaths in care homes due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 was higher for Black people (54 per cent) and Asian people (49 per cent) compared to White people (44 per cent). Note that CQC and ONS use different recording methods and the data are not directly comparable.

[43] ONS (2020), ‘Deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector, England and Wales: deaths occurring up to 12 June 2020 and registered up to 20 June 2020 (provisional).

[44] Alzheimer’s Society (2020), Evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee on delivering core NHS and care services during the pandemic and beyond.

[45] By 29 May 2020, seven local authorities had triggered the Care Act easements. See: DHSC (29 May 2020), ‘Two-monthly report on the non-devolved provisions of the Coronavirus Act: May 2020.  As of 9 July 2020, no local authorities in England were operating under the easements. See: CQC, ‘The Care Act and the ‘easements’ to it (last updated 9 July 2020).

[46] A survey by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC) found that 54.6 per cent of people with care support needs are no longer receiving health or personal care visits to their home. See: RIDC (8 June 2020), ‘Covid-19: our third survey into the impact on disabled and older people (due to a small sample size, the results of the RIDC Survey should be viewed as an indication of a possible trends only). See also: Sisters of Frieda (April 2020), ‘The Impact of COVID 19 on Disabled Women from Sisters of Frida: Voices of Disabled women in the pandemic; Inclusion London (June 2020), ‘Abandoned, forgotten and ignored: the impact of the coronavirus on disabled people: interim report’.

[47] See concerns set out in EHRC, EHRC (13 July 2020), ‘Evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry on the Government’s response to Covid-19: human rights implications - Adult social care and the right to independent living’.

[48] EHRC (2020), Evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the impact of COVID-19 on older people in residential social care.

[49] The UK Government has a UN treaty obligation to protect, respect and fulfil the right to independent living. See: UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 19. However, the right is not currently incorporated into domestic law. We have developed a proposed legal model for the domestic incorporation of the right to independent living and are calling on the Government to implement it. See: EHRC (May 2019), ‘Supplementary evidence to the JCHR inquiry into the detention of children and young people with learning disabilities and / or autism.