Covid-19: Ethnic Minority Disparities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 1st March 2021.

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Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary, Minister for Equalities 4:30 pm, 1st March 2021

I thank the hon. Lady for her questions, and I will try to address each of them. She mentioned what the Government are doing to assist south Asian groups, where the numbers and the impact appear to be increasing. We have taken a number of steps to mitigate the impact of covid-19 on these groups, including targeting those occupations with larger Pakistani and Bangladeshi workforces. For example, we issued new guidance to private hire vehicle and taxi drivers in November—updated in January—about how to protect themselves from covid-19. Working with religious leaders and others, we have taken steps to promote vaccine uptake among these groups, including housing vaccination centres in mosques and other places of worship. The race disparity unit and No. 10 recently held roundtables with representatives from south Asian groups on how to promote vaccine uptake.

The data is changing every day, so we try to make sure that we have a clearer picture before we base any actions and recommendations on what is coming out. This is likely to be a dynamic situation, but I will continue to update the House as we know more.

I can tell the hon. Lady that the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities is due to report imminently. It is an independent commission, so I cannot control exactly when it submits its findings, but I have had regular updates from the chair, and I know it is finalising recommendations and I expect the report shortly.

The hon. Lady also mentioned the recording of ethnicity. I am pleased to tell her that data on ethnicity is now being published. It was first published on 28 January, based on the availability and quality of data. On the point of equality impact assessments, she does know that they are based on the information provided to Departments, and it is up to them to decide what they do, but we do not routinely publish equality impact assessments.

The hon. Lady asked specifically about vaccine uptake, and I can tell her that I wrote to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which is determining the prioritisation with the findings from our report. I know that this issue is being taken into account, along with the covid prioritisation tool, so the information is in the public domain and does not require an equality impact assessment to know.