NUJ equalities councils flag up impact of Covid-19

  • 16 Apr 2020

Members are asked to take part in a Parliamentary inquiry and report on the experiences of all communities during the crisis.

The NUJ's equalities councils have flagged up concerns that disabled people are among those who have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The union has asked members to take part in an inquiry by the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee, which is taking evidence on whether there has been a particular impact on people who have protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010: age, disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

It is also encouraging journalists to investigate and take into account the experiences of all communities during the crisis.

The NUJ's equalities councils say they recognise the government has had to respond to the coronavirus crisis and create legislation at a pace, but it has led to certain people and communities being ignored and others put at a disadvantage.

Natasha Hirst, chair of the Equality Council and NEC Disabled Members' representative said:

"Disabled people, especially of working-age, have largely been ignored in the narrative of the 'vulnerable and elderly'. Disabled people are experiencing problems with their Access to Work support, the complexities of employing personal assistants via direct payments and cuts to social care packages.
"These obstruct disabled people from living independently and remaining in work. This is compounded by issues with accessing essential supplies and where forced to apply for Universal Credit, losing the severe disability premium attached to legacy benefits.
"It is women, especially those who are disabled or Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) and those on low incomes who are disproportionately hit by the effects of the pandemic. Women predominately take on caring responsibilities, are more likely to be in low paid work, working multiple jobs, and being essential workers without adequate PPE. We are deeply concerned about the increased risk of women experiencing sexism and harassment at work and domestic abuse at home.
"I encouraged our members to seek to cover these stories and scrutinise the response of the governments and authorities."

The Women and Equalities Committee is accepting evidence until Thursday 30 April.

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