Donna Guthrie

Black people and women bear the brunt

Donna Guthrie

BLACK PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY hit by austerity and face increased inequality of opportunity and access to service provision. Black women are often concentrated in low paid jobs and more likely to be working in vulnerable temporary or part time positions. They are more likely to work in the public and voluntary sectors due to discrimination and racism in the private sector. These are precisely the areas worst hit by the funding cuts.

Recent studies show that black women in the UK are up to three times more likely than their white counterparts to be unemployed. One in 14 white women are unemployed compared to one in five black women. The scale of unemployment faced by black communities is a stark rebuttal to the claims that race discrimination is no longer a major problem in employment.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Race and Community published a report in 2014 on Ethnic Minority Female Unemployment. Its findings concluded that black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are far more likely to be unemployed than both white men and white women. Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are particularly affected, with 20.5% being unemployed. Research, conducted as part of Unison’s ‘Challenging Racism in the Workplace’ and piloted in Greater London in November-December 2011, found that black women working in local government were hit disproportionately hard by job losses in twelve of the 17 London local authorities which responded.

Black women in one council constituted just 5% of the workforce but 23% of the redundancies. In another council, black workers made up just 31% of the workforce but 63% of the redundancies. Councils which reported the use of equality impact assessments (EIAs) before and after redundancies and reorganisations, are clearly failing to use them to prevent unequal impact.

The cuts also affect those services provided for women in our communities, such as women’s centres and refuges in the voluntary sector. Womens’ earnings are being hammered. The housing cuts are hitting the poorest hardest and black people are the hardest hit.

Our black communities, are full of young people left with little hope. With cuts in EMA and the tripling of tuition fees, young people can’t afford to access further education to help them to better their chances. Fifty years on from the Race Relations Act, introduced in 1965 to outlaw racial discrimination, has much improved?

Hate crime has gone through the roof and xenophobia against migrants has increased. Islamophobia has reached unprecedented levels.

Our black youth is further marginalised and black women are facing increased social and economic hardship.

·       The unemployment rate for ethnic minorities in the UK is 11.3% – more than twice that of white people (5.5%).

·       Black people are almost three times as likely to be unemployed than anyone else in the UK.

·       38% of young black men are currently unemployed compared to 17.8% of young white men.

·       Healthcare is another area where gross inequality exists. Black people are 44% more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than their white counterparts.

·       Black people are more disproportionately represented in UK prisons than in the US. The proportion of black people in jail in the UK is almost seven times their share of the population, whereas in the US the proportion of black prisoners is four times greater.

And police officers have used routine arrests to collect the DNA profile of three quarters of young black British men between the ages of 18 and 35.

A report on Ethnic Inequalities in London published by Runnymede in March 2016 looked at measures of inequality across education, employment, health and housing and compared outcomes from the 2001 and 2011 national censuses. It found that ethnic inequalities are persistent and widespread in London, particularly in employment and housing.

Black communities experience disadvantage in employment in every borough in London. Black communities are more likely to live in overcrowded housing compared to the white British population with around two in five Black African (40%) and Bangladeshi (36%) people living in overcrowded housing. Lambeth is found to have the highest race inequality of the 32 London boroughs, followed by Haringey.

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC UK) is a national campaign, with local groups around the country, founded by Zita Holbourne and Lee Jasper. BARAC’s main objectives are to campaign and defend jobs and services, highlight the disproportionate and adverse impact of the huge reduction of public spending on deprived communities, in particular black communities, and to provide a campaigning platform to fight against cuts in jobs and services including any adverse, disproportionate impact on black workers and communities.

We do this by working in partnership and building alliances with others facing and fighting similar attacks. Working together with trade unions, community groups, public service users and black campaigning organisations, we organise where black communities are and help people to set up their own local groups, enabling black people to have a collective voice. As a lifelong anti-racism campaigner, trade union activist and National Women’s Officer of BARAC UK, I campaign to highlight the double impact felt by black communities and our women in particular. I seek to encourage support and engagement of black activists across the country to challenge the government cuts and the racism it perpetuates.

For more information or to join BARAC email or visit our website for up-to-date information on activities and events or follow us on Twitter @BARACUK. Follow us on twitter ‘BARACUK’

is BARAC UK’s Women’s Officer