Covid-19: Ethnic Minority Disparities

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I think it is a really interesting question that the hon. Lady has asked. She says that I dismissed the claim that systemic injustice was to blame, but the fact is that we did not know what was to blame at that time. That was in June, three months before my report.

What we need to understand is what exactly we mean by systemic and structural. We have seen that the data show that, at some point, ethnic minority gaps in terms of disproportionate impact completely disappeared. If these were structural issues, that is not what we would expect to see. For example, at the beginning of the second wave, we saw the disparity between black groups completely close. It is not credible to say that people were being structurally racist and stopped being so during the summer, and then over Christmas these structural issues re-emerged. That does not explain what is happening.

We need to look at what the data tells us. We cannot start from the conclusion that we want this to be systemic injustice so that we can continue to move from a political ideological perspective. We are using a scientific perspective —what does the data tell us?—and the data is telling us that this is a very complex situation. There are multiple factors, and that is why the recommendations, which the Government have, are addressing those underlying factors. It is not a genetic disease, and being an ethnic minority is not the risk factor specifically.