The Women and Equalities Committee: Unequal impact: Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics

Fry Law Select Committee Subs 30.04.20

It’s been difficult to find time to write and send in these submissions, but we hope that the Select Committee seizes the opportunity to make access and inclusion mainstream in its decision making moving forwards, and in particular as we begin to move through the next waves of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you or anyone else you know would like to make a submission, you have until the end of the day (30/04/20). Details can be found here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/227/unequal-impact-coronavirus-covid19-and-the-impact-on-people-with-protected-characteristics/

We understand that the Committee are thinking about interventions they could make as the pandemic evolves and we received news today that Committee Chair Caroline Nokes has today written to Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss, calling on the Government to publish the equalities assessment of the emergency legislation dealing with Covid-19.

“The Impact Assessment for the Coronavirus Act states that an equalities assessment was “carried out separately as part of the Public Sector Equalities Duty.” This has not yet been published; in evidence to the Committee, the Minister said that this was because of the potential “chilling effect on being frank in those assessments” if the people preparing them knew they would be published.

The Committee does not agree that the purpose of such an assessment is to inform Government only, arguing that publication would allow those who may be particularly affected by a policy or by legislation to better understand what might happen to them as a result, and would enable experts, interest groups, and those affected to help shape the Government’s plans to mitigate impacts.

Committee Chair Caroline Nokes said in the letter:

“These are difficult times and we already know some groups, such as those above a certain age, are at greater risk from coronavirus. We also know that they will experience specific impacts from Government measures to protect public health. Many individuals and groups submitting evidence to our inquiry have highlighted how they consider the existing measures to have disproportionately impacted them. Such measures may, of course, be necessary and unavoidable. Surely, in a fair and democratic society, it is only right that we are able to have an open conversation about the equality assessment; to allow Committees such as ours, individuals and other groups to scrutinise the Government’s work and contribute to mitigating any negative consequences.”

Please feel free to use or refer to our submissions when filing your own!

 

About the Author

Chris Fry

Chris is the founder of Fry Law.