How Coronavirus has affected equality and human rights

Date: 27th October 2020
Category: Basic Health and Welfare

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This report highlights potential long-term risks to equality and human rights in light of COVID-19, covering key issues in the areas of work, poverty, education, social care, justice and personal security. It provides a snapshot of the emerging cost of COVID-19 in particular for young people, older people and ethnic minorities.

The report finds that the economic impact of the pandemic has been unequal, entrenching existing inequalities and widening others.  The immediate impact on the labour market has affected underemployment rather than unemployment, although unemployment is expected to rise as government support schemes are reduced or end.

The loss of earnings from underemployment is contributing to a drop in living standards. Poverty is expected to rise and the groups most likely to be affected include young people, ethnic minorities, and disabled people, who are already closest to the poverty line. The withdrawal of government support schemes is likely to trigger further increases in hardship.

Young people have experienced significant interruption to their education, which threatens previous gains in attainment levels. Access to remote learning has widened inequalities for those who already perform less well than their peers, particularly boys, Black pupils, some Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, pupils who need support in education, and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.

Older people, ethnic minorities and some disabled people, particularly those in care homes, have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. It has led to an increased reliance on unpaid carers, who are more likely to be women.

There has been a rise in reported domestic abuse and concerns have been raised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission about the ability of survivors to access justice, as COVID-19 control measures in the criminal justice system can undermine the effective participation of some disabled defendants and victims.

The report goes on to form targeted recommendations for the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments to ensure equality and human rights considerations are integrated into the policy response to the pandemic.