This March marks two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. COVID–19 has laid bare the historic and structural inequalities that already existed between us. It has disproportionately affected Black, Asian and minoritized ethnic people, older and disabled people and their families, women, those in poverty, insecure housing or precarious employment and people who have come to the UK to escape difficult circumstances abroad.
We hope that as we recover from the pandemic, we can build a better society, in which everyone has the rights they need to flourish. And we believe that a just and more equal UK requires improved protection of our human rights by giving, for the first time, legal recognition to the rights to health, housing, food, social security, education and just conditions of work.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have been working to protect these vital economic, social, and cultural rights, and to hold our policy makers and decision-makers to account. Today, on Zero Discrimination Day, we wanted to highlight some of the work we have done over the past two years, and ask for your support as we continue the fight to build a fairer and more just society.
1. We drew attention to the challenges and discrimination faced by destitute migrants who have No Recourse to Public Funds.
For example through this joint letter to the chair of the public inquiry into COVID-19 to encourage the inquiry panel to include migration status and laws affecting migrants as a key factor in the inquiry’s investigation, and supporting this petition calling on the UK Government to urgently suspend No Recourse to Public Funds visa conditions so that migrants and their families are protected from the health and financial impacts of COVID-19.
2. We submitted evidence on rights violations and the need for action to protect the rights of many other people who have been, and continue to be, disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
For example through this written submission to the Education Committee inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services, this op ed for Each Other on children’s food vouchers, our recommendations to the UK Government on protecting the right to housing, and this submission on the implications of COVID-19 for access to transport.
3. We held the UK Government to account on its legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social, and cultural rights.
For example through this joint letter from NGOs across the UK calling on UK Government to stop any further delay to submitting their report the CESCR Committee.
4. We advocated that human rights are an essential part of the COVID-19 recovery.
For example through this written submission to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on the role of the GEO and this written Submission to the Cabinet Office Call for Evidence: National Resilience Strategy
Since the start of the pandemic there have been more challenges which have added to the need for defence of our economic, social, and cultural rights in the UK. The Human Rights Act consultation. Brexit. The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (‘Sewell’ Report). The cost-of-living crisis.
The challenges keep coming, but our rights remain one of our most powerful tools to build a more just society. If you want to support this work, here are some actions you can take today:
- Sign up for our newsletter so that you are the first to hear news related to economic, social and cultural rights, and updates on our campaigns
- Write to your MP about lifting the ban on asylum seekers working
- Take action on the right to social security by emailing your MP
- Find out more about and amplify our campaign for the enactment of the socio-economic duty.