With an aim to tackle “long-standing entrenched racial inequalities”, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on Sunday announced that it will launch a statutory inquiry into the racial inequalities highlighted by the coronavirus crisis in the United Kingdom.
“This inquiry is part of our long-term strategic approach to tackle the structural inequalities that the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare,” EHRC’s Chairman David Isaac said adding that the investigation will have the power to compel evidence from Governmental departments and other organizations.
It will seek to answer the “serious issues that have yet to be fully answered” and give evidence-based recommendations to tackle entrenched racial inequalities.
The differences in opportunities across England, Scotland and Wales will also be probed.
“Now is a once in a generation opportunity to tackle long-standing entrenched racial inequalities. We intend to use our statutory powers to address the loss of lives and livelihoods of people from different ethnic minorities,” Isaac said.
He added: “Only by taking focused action to tackle race inequality across Britain will we become a fair country in which every individual can reach their full potential.
“This inquiry is part of our long-term strategic approach to tackle the structural inequalities that the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare. This is an important step towards ensuring that the deep-rooted inequality faced by ethnic minorities is meaningfully addressed as we rebuild,” he said.
A Public Health England (PHE) report in June found that after accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity have around twice the risk of death than people who are white British.
Those of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity have between a 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British people.
There has been criticism that the PHE report did not explain well-enough the reasons why BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) people are worse affected.
Figures have also suggested BAME people were nearly 50% more likely than white people to be arrested in London under coronavirus laws.
Meanwhile, Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said she was working with the Government’s race disparity unit to make recommendations on the report, and argued that “this is one of the best countries in the world to be a black person”.
The disparity from Covid-19 also came as protests took place across the UK highlighting the anger felt over the treatment of BAME people.