Covid-19: Disparate Impact - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 27th October 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Hussein-Ece Baroness Hussein-Ece Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Equalities) 6:00 pm, 27th October 2020

My Lords, the Covid pandemic has disproportionately impacted women. The Women’s Budget Group found that women are twice as likely to be key workers. It said that 77% of high-risk workers are women. They are being paid poverty wages. These inequalities are pronounced and exacerbated across the country, especially for those marginalised by other factors, including race, ethnicity and disability. We know that people with disabilities have been hardest hit, with an unacceptably high mortality rate. What support will the Government commit to providing women facing particular hardships due to the Covid pandemic and to address these glaring inequalities?

In addition, many thousands signed a petition urging the Government to establish a Covid race equality strategy. Back in June, I asked the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, whether the Government would consider establishing this strategy. This was urgent in June; it is now the end of October, and the evidence in the Statement clearly shows that these groups are still suffering hardship, are still in the front line and are still disproportionately affected. The pandemic has shone a light on inequalities that, sadly, already exist in our society. We need urgent action, not further reviews.

Recent statements on Covid in the past few months have said little about how people from BAME communities can be better protected. Will the Government now establish and develop a proper Covid strategy to address the inequalities that have already been mentioned? We do not need further reviews. The evidence is overwhelming. When can we expect action and implementation of the numerous reviews to address the inequalities that this terrible virus has unfortunately visited on sections of society that are not best placed to protect themselves, due to the nature of their lives, where they live, their households, their jobs and their health problems? I ask the Minister to answer that and what resources are being put in place to address this.