MP says government protected ethnic minorities throughout pandemic

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 October 2020

Kemi Badenoch MP

Kemi Badenoch MP

Kemi Badenoch

Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch said the government has been protecting ethnic minorities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking in the House of Commons as minister for equalities, Mrs Badenoch said the government took several steps to protect those who “may be disproportionately affected” by the virus.

She said: “This includes targeted testing of occupations and groups at higher risk, including ethnic minority women.

“We have also translated the latest information into multiple languages in accessible formats to help to ensure that our public health communications reach all communities across the country.”

Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, asked if Mrs Badenoch will focus on keeping black and minority ethnic care workers safe from the virus, as BME women are at “higher risk” and “strongly represented” in care jobs.

Mrs Badenoch said: “There are very many BME workers in the social care sector and they must be properly supported.

“That is why in June, the Department of Health and Social Care published a Covid-19 adult social care workforce risk reduction framework to help to manage specific risks to staff, including risk by ethnicity.

“We are also providing financial support to the Race Equality Foundation, to provide additional services to BME communities with dementia during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East, asked Mrs Badenoch when she will propose the removal of caste as a protected characteristic of the Equality Act 2010.

He said: “I urge her to bring forward, without delay, proposals to remove this unnecessary, ill-thought-out and divisive move in the Equality Act 2010.”

But Mrs Badenoch said caste is not a protected characteristic in the Act.

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Great Britain’s national equality body, the protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Kemi Badenoch said caste discrimination may already be protected under the race provisions of the Act.

“We therefore intend to make caste an explicit aspect of race discrimination as soon as practicable,” she said.

She added: “The Government completely oppose any discrimination because of a person’s origins, including any perception of their caste.”

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