Effect of Government’s Austerity Measures on Black People

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2013 National Black Members' Conference
18 September 2012

Conference deplores the devastating impact the Government’s austerity measures are having on Black communities and the most vulnerable groups in the society. Conference notes with concern the severity of this impact on people from the Black community. Research from the Institute for Public Policy and Research shows that unemployment levels for young Black people (age 16-24) is almost 48 per cent – among the highest rate of unemployment in living memory in the Britain. Cuts to education might be of long-term damage to a generation of young Black and gifted people. With the Education and Maintenance Allowance abolished, a huge increase in tuition fees, many of our Young Black people face a future that is harder than ever.

Black communities and young Black people are being pushed deeper into poverty, with fewer employment opportunities – with access to higher education and universities out of the reach for many.

Conference welcomes the UNISON research in 2011 to find out the actual impact of cuts on Black workers in local authorities in London and the West Midlands. Those Freedom of Information (FOI) requests monitors the number of Black staff that have been made redundant in the financial 2010/2011. This research conducted in London revealed that Black workers are being disproportionately selected for redundancy, confirming what we already know – that the Government’s austerity measures are not working.

Research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2010 revealed that the proportion of Black people living in poverty is significantly higher than the national average. These are deeply worrying patterns and trends which need to be challenged.

Conference is deeply concerned that Black workers are likely to be worst affected as cuts to public pay, services and benefits take hold. Proportionately more Black people are employed in public services – approximately 40% are employed in the public sector compared to 25% of their white counterparts. Large numbers of Black workers are concentrated in lower paid jobs – characterised by temporary, agency, casual and part-time forms of employment.

Conference notes that racism is still in existence in our society and workplaces. The pervasive nature of racism continues to blight the employment and promotion prospects of Black people. This exacerbates the cycle of discrimination, disadvantage and deprivation which is compounded by the impact of Government cuts and austerity measures.

Conference also notes that during their 2011 inspection of the UK government the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) recommended that “notwithstanding the economic downturn, the State party should ensure that any austerity measures do not exacerbate the problem of racial discrimination and inequality. Impact assessments are necessary before adopting such measures to ensure that they are not differentially targeted or discriminatory to those vulnerable to racial discrimination”.

Conference calls on the National Black Members’ Committee to work with the NEC to:

1)Seek to ensure that branches use and promote the UNISON Guidance on Challenging Racism in the Workplace.

2)Seek that branches utilise the new resources produced on fighting cuts for example the UNISON Guidance for branches on Public Sector Equality Duties to negotiate improvements in equality at work.

3)Highlight the findings of the FOI research conducted in London and the West Midlands regions and seek to ensure that this research is done in other regions.

4)Consider how UN processes such as the CERD inspections can be used to fight proposed cuts.

5)Continue to raise the awareness of the effects of cuts in the Black community and specifically on young Black people.