Unequal impact: Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics
Coronavirus and BAME people - written submission by Save Latin Village
Closing of Latin Village
● Loss of income: inability for essential businesses to trade at the Latin Village in Seven Sisters Market and thereby make a living during the lockdown period.
● Difficulties in accessing specialist cultural food supplies. Many of the BAME traders sell specialised food products for the Latin American population which is not provided in the main food chain stores.
● Loss of the community mutual aid support from the Latin Village community.
Private-Public Partnership Treatment of BAME Community during COVID-19
● Monday 16 March: Power cut to all BAME traders.
● Monday 23 March: Grainger PLC writes to BAME traders drawing attention to their loss of legal appeal against move to Apex House and demolition of Latin Village at Wards Corner site. Grainger PLC advises BAME traders of move to new site by the end of the year.
● Tuesday 24 March: MAM/Quarterbridge orders the closure of the Latin Village advising, “We have been asked by LB Haringey Public Health Department to advise them of any non-compliance.”
● Thursday 9 April: MAM/Quarterbridge advises BAME traders to visit Latin Village to collect letters and handover keys during official lockdown when it was prohibited by the government in line with Stay at Home orders.
● Monday 11 May: An insolvency practitioner is appointed by MAM/Quarterbridge, advising traders that if a deal is not found the Latin Village may shut permanently, threatening the 40 BAME businesses and the livelihood of around 120 workers.
● Friday 22 May: Grainger PLC is hastening Apex House works while TfL is stalling the restoration of electricity at the Latin Village. Traders are asked to participate in the unit design; however, no information is provided on forecasted rents. An email is sent to the Market Facilitator, copying in Grainger PLC CEO, requesting forecasted rent information, which has still not been provided.
● Sunday 24 May: PM Boris Johnson announces a planned date for reopening non-essential business. MAM/Quarterbridge reminds traders that Latin Village may not reopen and adds padlocks to all the main entrances to prevent traders from accessing their trading units.
● Tuesday 2 June: In concert with MAM/Quarterbridge, TfL informs traders that the Latin Village may not reopen anytime soon due to essential works “as a result of years of neglect”. Seventy-five percent of the market is still without power.
● Friday 5 June: MAM/Quarterbridge issues traders rent invoices despite the fact that:
○ They are enjoying a rent holiday by landlord TfL until the COVID-19 situation returns to normal.
○ They have been defrauding traders in the overcharging of utilities.
○ They were caught by TfL in the “unlawful abstraction of electricity by MAM through its connection to the grid from a neighbouring building. By ‘unlawful’ we mean a criminal act, specifically commission of an offence under Section 13 of the Theft Act 1968. According to market traders present during the disconnection of the supply, the police officers who attended confirmed the unsafe supply and unlawful abstraction of electricity constituted a criminal offence and a crime reference was assigned, job no 468193 and CAD 4012/16MAR20.”
○ A race discrimination claim was filed under the Equality Act 2010 against them by Afro-Latin trader Fabian Castano Cadavid in addition to numerous complaints of discrimination, victimisation, and harassment.
● Monday 15 Jun: The world slowly emerges from the devastating impact of COVID-19 and non-essential businesses and indoor markets are allowed to open in the UK. However, the Latin Village remains closed.
● Monday 16 March: There is no natural light in the Latin Village due to the power cut, and BAME traders work in the dark while losing perishable food stock during a week of frantic panic buying and food shortages.
● Tuesday 24 March: A few days after essential food outlets have been ordered to close completely, BAME community is still without power. According to traders: MAM/Quarterbridge staff member advised members, “you no longer have a future here, the electricity is not going to be fixed, you have already lost everything, and you’ll have to adjust to the new rules when you’re moved”.
● Thursday 9 April: BAME traders have historically experienced high exceptional stressors and discrimination since Quarterbridge/MAM’s appointment in 2015, compounded by COVID-19 and the power cut on the 16th March.
● Monday 15 June: Market does not reopen and the wider Latin American community is without a Mutual Aid Centre during a time of a forecasted economic recession.
Inaccessible Government guidance, support and funds
● Financial difficulties affecting ability to afford food, which is exacerbated by difficulties accessing food banks due to lack of information and language barriers.
● The UK’s Latin American community suffers from high indices of social deprivation and lack of visibility. There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating that BAME groups suffer poorer health than the overall UK population, most discernibly during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The collection of data on BAME communities facilitates health services to respond to health inequalities experienced by different social groups, such as access to and experience of health care. Therefore, health equality and social justice is not being achieved without ethnic monitoring.
● Gaps in ethnic monitoring of vulnerable ethnic minority groups will also impact the findings of this review, which will result in the inability to inform public policy. At present, one of the main hurdles is seeking assistance, such as interpreters for accessing local government support. Due to the absence of population statistics on certain minority groups, it is difficult to quantify demand for grants and lobby decision makers.
● The main short-term recommendation is for the Mayor of London to provide the minority right to effective participation during Covid-19. The Mayor suspended a planned meeting with Save Latin Village on the 9th April 2020 after years of lobbying, including a presentation to the UN assembly at the UN headquarters in 2019. Our specific recommendation is that this meeting should go ahead during the easing of lockdown restrictions, and that the supportive local Member of Parliament David Lammy MP should also attend this meeting to ensure the avoidance of a tokenistic measure.
● Ethnic monitoring should be introduced for the UK’s Latin American community at national level in the 2021 ONS Census, and at local level including all London Boroughs, and nationwide. Haringey Council has one of the largest UK Latin American populations and it should introduce local ethnic monitoring for Latin American members of the community.
● The EHRC should investigate the pattern of structural discrimination by the main public-private stakeholders at the Latin Village, namely Mayor of London, TfL, Haringey Council, and Grainger PLC.
● The DWP should improve accessibility to Universal Credit applications. Firstly, where it has been specified in the application online journal that applicants require an interpreter all initial calls throughout the claims process should be made with an interpreter. Despite the fact that interpreters are requested in the application online journal, calls are made without an interpreter causing unnecessary delays. Secondly, paper applications should be accepted and translated versions made available in consideration that it is not possible to make claims with smartphones and many applicants do not have access to PCs, tablets, etc. Thirdly, if online Universal Credit claims cannot be made in Spanish then funding should be made available to charities to provide assistance. The research has also found many instances where the Citizens Advice Bureau has not been able to provide this service despite their access to a language line.
● Digital exclusion - in the case of the Latin Village, funding should be provided to the charity Latin Elephant which has experience in delivering bespoke courses to the Latin American community. Previous training was unsuccessfully delivered through MAM/Quarterbridge with Mayor of London funding.
● Equal support should be provided to the Community Plan, which was granted planning permission in November 2019 and incorporates the majority of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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