The shocking data from Public Health England on how Covid-19 has disproportionately hit the UK’s BAME Communities and the Black Lives Matter protests around the world have shone a spotlight on the deep and longstanding structural disadvantage and racism Westminster’s BAME Communities face.
Labour are calling on the Westminster Council to do more to tackle the inequalities facing BAME communities in our city. In a motion to full Council, Labour have urged the Council to set up a comprehensive review of the needs of Westminster’s BAME Communities and demanded urgent local public health action on Covid testing and health inequalities.
Cllr Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Shadow Cabinet Member for Public Health and Deputy Leader said “Westminster has to meet the moment we are in to address urgently the massive health and other inequalities facing our BAME communities. Covid-19 has highlighted what has been known but ignored for too long- that structural racism perpetuated by systems of power and inherited privilege results in stark inequalities of outcome and opportunity, both here in Westminster and across the country.”
Minority Party Motion for Full Council on 24th June 2020 – Health Inequalities
This Council notes that according to the Office of National Statistics and Public Health England Covid-19 has killed disproportionately many more BAME people than white people.
This Council notes that some of the higher death rates in BAME communities relate to pre-existing health problems particularly diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity.
This Council notes that, while many people during this crisis have had the opportunity to work from home it was our poorest households that continued sending people out to work. The highest Covid-19 death rates have been among security guards, care workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers and retail workers.
This Council notes Westminster’s history as a place of arrival for many BAME communities, who make up at least 40% of our City’s population today.
The Council also notes the positive initiatives by WCC such as the Community Cohesion Commission, efforts to improve opportunities for BAME staff and City Hall commemorating George Floyd and Grenfell, but also appreciates the scale of the work still to do to achieve equality in our city.
The Council believes health inequalities have their roots in the social determinants of health – in this case overcrowded or insecure housing, poverty, and employment in occupations with high exposure to Covid-19.
This Council resolves to take active measures to reduce the structural disadvantage and racism faced by BAME communities in Westminster.
The Council resolves to carry out a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) on the needs of BAME communities in Westminster, looking at access to decent housing (particularly addressing overcrowding and homelessness), employment, health inequalities and the relationship between these communities and public institutions such as the Council and Police.
The Council will allocate the resources needed to implement the findings of the JSNA while taking urgent action now to address known problems including local public health led efforts to improve Covid-19 testing and access to healthcare in BAME and other excluded communities.