• Sunday, July 03, 2022

Coronavirus

UK should focus on ‘inclusive recovery’ as pandemic could worsen inequalities, says think tank

(Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images).

By: Eastern Eye Staff

THE coronavirus crisis is exposing Britain’s existing inequalities — between low and high earners, young and old workers and for ethnic minorities — which could be aggravated without reforms, a leading think tank said on Thursday (11).

People on low wages are most at risk of losing income and their jobs because of the Covid-19 shutdown, while a gap in death rates between rich and poor neighbourhoods has widened, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.

British people of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage are most likely to work in sectors affected by the coronavirus shutdown. Black people have contracted Covid-19 at far-above-average rates, reflecting how they are more likely to be in jobs with a greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus, the IFS said.

“Government will need to be on the front foot in laying the groundwork for a strong and inclusive recovery even while still dealing with the immediate crisis,” said IFS deputy director Robert Joyce, who co-wrote the report.

Reforms to consider included providing better training for workers, protecting small businesses, and catch-up teaching for children, especially from poorer families.

The IFS report saw some upsides from the shutdown, including increased remote working which could help mothers’ careers while fathers spent more time with their children than before.

Remote working could also help spread high-paid and high-productivity jobs away from London, addressing Britain’s regional productivity disparities.

The IFS’s findings chimed with other research by academics who found black, Asian and minority ethnic people in Britain, and those with fewer qualifications, were hit harder by job losses than the population as a whole.

The share of BAME people in employment fell to 67.4 per cent in April from 72 per cent  in February, researchers from the University of Essex and other academic centres said earlier this week.

That was a bigger drop than a decline to 79.4 per cent from 81.1 per cent for non-BAME people, they said, using data from the long-running Understanding Society survey led by the University of Essex.

Research had also shown that people from ethnic minorities faced higher health risks from Covid-19. Black and Asian people in England were up to 50 per cent more likely to die after being infected, according to a recent Public Health England review.

Notably, these reports come at a time when global protests at the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have put renewed focus on the wider economic inequalities facing black people.

Eastern Eye

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