Earlier this year we submitted written evidence to Runnymede Trust’s recently published England Civil Society Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The submission details the situation of race and racism in the UK.
The report is made up of information gathered by Runnymede Trust from over 150 roundtable events and also written information from over 50 organisations and individuals, including ourselves.
Our submission collated ESCR evidence from our partners Safety4Sisters North West (S4S), the International Community Organisation of Sunderland (ICOS), Connected Voice and Praxis. Issues covered in our submission which were included in the final report include:
The Runnymede Trust report reflects many of the concerns we raised in relation to employment, particularly the disproportionate number of people from BAME backgrounds represented in insecure, low paid employment. This was a concern directly raised by CERD in its 2016 Concluding Observations and five years later it continues to be an issue.
The effect of Covid 19 on the right to education was a major issued we had raised that featured in the Runnymede Trust report. The ‘digital divide’ and its impact on the ability to access education was noted, for example the fact that BAME students were less likely to have regular access to suitable digital devices.
Another issue in this area that we had evidenced was the prohibitively high fees that students with limited leave to remain face when accessing higher or further education and we support Runnymede Trust’s calls for reform of the eligibility criteria to access so-called ‘home student fees’.
Existing inequalities in access to information, services, support and indeed treatment in relation to mental health for people from BAME backgrounds was an important area covered in our submission which was reflected in the Runnymede Trust report. In terms of accessing services; fears around data-sharing among statutory services was highlighted as a key ‘chill factor’ for migrants in need of healthcare. The requirement for specialist BAME services for women experiencing domestic violence was also raised.
The overrepresentation of BAME communities in statistics in relation to housing overcrowding and poor conditions were two key physical conditions that we included in our submission and are glad to see included in the Runnymede Trust’s report. In terms of policy, our submission fully supports the Runnymede Trust’s recommendation that the ‘right to rent’ scheme is repealed. This scheme discriminates both directly and indirectly against people perceived by landlords to have been born outside the UK and so provides additional barriers to members of the BAME community accessing their right to housing.
No Recourse to Public Funds
Our evidence supports the Runnymede Trust’s call for a suspension to the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition, particularly during a pandemic when so many have lost their livelihoods and without state support are at particular risk of falling into destitution.
Background on CERD
In 1969 the UK ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and in doing so agreed to by bound by its provisions. The progress the UK has made in fulfilling these obligations is examined around every 5 years by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. As part of this examination process, the UK government sends in a report on how it believes it is meeting its obligations (known as a ‘state party report’) and National Human Rights Institutions (such as the EHRC) and civil society organisations are also invited to send in reports on the progress or regressions that they believe has been made. These civil society reports are known as ‘shadow reports’ and the Runnymede Trust have co-ordinated one on behalf of civil society organisations across England.