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Equalities watchdog to launch fresh inquiry into racial inequalities ‘laid bare’ by coronavirus

Protesters gathered across London this week following the death of George Floyd (PA)

2 min read

Britain’s equalities watchdog has launched an inquiry into the “entrenched“ UK racial disparities highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) comes after a Government-backed report by Public Health England revealed that ethnic minority communities are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

And it comes amid a renewed focus on the treatment of people of colour around the world following the death of African-American man George Floyd in police custody.

The watchdog said it hoped to develop “clear, evidence-based recommendations for urgent action to tackle entrenched racial inequalities” through its inquiry.

Chair of the EHRC David Isaac said: “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.”

He added: “An inquiry is one of a number of steps we are taking as part of a wider programme of work to address systemic race inequalities. 

“This includes reviewing and strengthening our existing calls on the Government to put in place a comprehensive race equality strategy.  

“We have also been active on specific pandemic issues affecting some ethnic minorities, including predicted grading in education and return to work policies.”

The issue of racial inequality has been in the spotlight this week after PHE revealed that death rates from coronavirus are highest among black and Asian communities.

On Thursday, Labour urged the Government to publish the recommendations of the review “immediately” in a letter to the Government. 

And Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch was grilled in the Commons by MPs over the Government’s response.

Ms Badenoch admitted to “hoping to see” more in the report, adding that “Public Health England did not have all the data it needed”.

“The Government will commission further research to identify gaps in the report,” she added. 

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