My Lords, I refer noble Lords to my entry in the register of interests. Do the Government plan to extend the life insurance scheme to the SME sector, and specifically to black and minority ethnic individuals employed in the SME sector who have been defined as key workers but are not covered by the current scheme?
People from the BAME community make up 14% of the UK’s population, and this is expected to increase to 18% by 2021. There is a huge body of evidence to suggest that BAME workers are being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Many factors contribute to this, but one of the main ones is the nature of the work performed. They are overrepresented in sectors that the Government have allowed to remain open, such as food retail, healthcare and transport. For example, they make up 44% of NHS staff, 70% of the workforce in public administration and education and 26% of workers in the transport sector. Some of these professions are covered by the Government’s life insurance scheme but others are not. I personally feel that these members of the BAME community are playing an essential role in keeping the country moving and are going above and beyond the call of duty in providing essential services to their local community in these unprecedented times.
The Government have already categorised them as essential workers. It necessarily follows that the Government must have considered including some if not all of these groups in the Government’s own life insurance scheme. Is the Minister able to shed any light on what was considered and whether anything is currently being considered?
I believe that when we look back on this episode in the years to come, this is an area that will be under the microscope. If it is economically viable to undertake this, I am sure it will be well received.