Austerity – How much worse will it get for Black members?

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2016 National Delegate Conference
1 March 2016

Since the disastrous election of a majority Tory Government in May 2015 the impact of public sector and welfare cuts has worsened for Black people.

The Tories first budget has deepened austerity with more than 1.25 million Black households and 4 million Black people worse off under the range of budget measures that will continue to have a negative and disproportionate impact on Black people.

Black households are more likely to be living in poverty with child poverty rates at nearly 50% for Pakistani children and over 40% for Bangladeshi children. Cuts to tax credits, part-time working changes, and benefit caps on households with more than two children will exacerbate the situation for Black families.

A report from Runnymede Trust ‘The 2015 Budget – Effects on Black and minority ethnic people’ found that:

1)Cuts and freezes in tax credits are up to five times more likely to adversely affect Black people than white people as more Black people work part time than white people;

2)Youth unemployment has risen by 49% over the past five years amongst Black people compared to a 2% fall among young white people;

3)Nearly half of all overcrowded households in Britain are among Black people but the government is now restricting housing benefit for people in their late teens and early twenties;

4)Among young Black people affected by this change, many will be living in overcrowded households, sharing bedrooms with younger siblings, and so these changes are more likely to negatively affect housing quality among Black families and young people;

5)Further reduction in the Benefit Cap will hit Black workers the hardest as 40% of those affected by the benefit cap are Black workers although Black people make up just 14% of the population;

6)Black people make up 16% of Jobseekers Allowance claimants, 16% of lone parents claiming income support and 9% of those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);

7)Cutting Child Tax Credits and housing benefit for families with more than 2 children will increase Black child poverty rates and racial inequalities as 24% of Black families have more than 2 children compared to 8% of white households.

The report concludes that ‘the cumulative effect of the budget may become even more unfair over time’.

It is imperative that UNISON Black members be at the forefront of campaigns against the cuts and austerity. Therefore Conference calls upon the National Executive Council to work with the National Black members committee to:

a)Consider building for a national demonstration against austerity seeking to ensure strong UNISON representation;

b)Support and encourage UNISON Black members to stand as elected representatives as local councillors and MPs fighting against austerity and cuts;

c)Encourage members to step up the work with local community organisations fighting cuts and austerity;

d)Raise this as a priority issue with the TUC Race Relations Committee with the intention to step up the work with other trade union groups and local trade councils fighting the cuts;

e)Seek to work with service groups to incorporate the impact of cuts on Black members in those areas into relevant campaigns.