An announcement that the Government has ordered studies into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities has puzzled the organisation which has challenged The Prime Minister to set up a public inquiry into the issues.
It has been reported by the BBC that six studies will be funded with millions of pounds from the Government to find out why people from an ethnic minority background are at greater risk from COVID-19.
The Ubele Initiative has written to the Prime Minister twice in recent months to call for an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities and referred him to several studies which had already taken place.
Represented by Leigh Day solicitors, The Ubele Initiative asked for:
- An explanation of what steps the Government has taken under the Equality Act 2010 to assess the impact on ethnic minority communities of lockdown-easing measures and the Test and Trace programme.
- Full disclosure of any such Equality Impact Assessments.
- An immediate independent inquiry to investigate the underlying causes of the increased risk that ethnic minority groups face in relation to COVID-19 and produce recommendations which seek to protect ethnic minority groups from the increased risk of death from COVID-19 during a second or subsequent wave of infection.
- A commitment from the government to undertake a more comprehensive, independent public inquiry into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minority groups.
The Ubele Initiative said:
"These studies, which have recently been announced by the government, appear to be revisiting old ground. Our concern is that the studies will not add anything substantially new to the findings already reported by the Public Health England and Independent SAGE reports. In any case, further studies are not a substitute for an independent, public inquiry, nor are they a substitute for an action plan, which is urgently needed to protect BAME communities from further cases of COVID-19."
Leigh Day solicitor Lucy Cadd said:
"Our clients say the available funding would be better invested in an inquiry rather than into more studies. The reason for this is because an inquiry would be better placed to identify the underlying reasons as to why members of ethnic minorities have been so severely affected by COVID-19.
"What needs to happen now is urgent action to protect ethnic minority communities from the heightened risk of COVID-19 that they face. Some of these studies are due to take at least a year to report and that is not quick enough to be helpful."
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