COVID-19 resources

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Unequal Britain: attitudes to inequalities after Covid-19

King's Fund

Based on a nationally representative survey of over 2,000 people, this study presents a comprehensive examination of attitudes towards different types of inequality in the context of the coronavirus crisis. The study shows that the coronavirus crisis has not, as yet, unified the country on the need for a rethink on inequality or how to address it. Nonetheless, inequalities between more and less deprived areas (61 per cent), along with disparities in income and wealth (60 per cent), are seen as the most serious type of inequality in Britain. This indicates the strength of potential support for the government’s “levelling up” agenda – it very much fits with the public’s own priorities, almost regardless of background. But attitudes towards other forms of inequality, particularly between different racial or ethnic groups, are much more divided – inequalities between racial or ethnic groups are considered one of the most serious forms of inequality in Britain, after those between more and less deprived areas and disparities in income and wealth; but there is much greater variation in levels of concern between groups. Growing gender inequality following Covid-19 is a much lower concern. On top of significant variations in opinion, meritocratic and individualistic tendencies also temper calls for action on inequality. All of this means that while there is some appetite for change, it does not reach a level of support that unifies across political and demographic divides.

Last updated on hub: 02 March 2021

Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people: Government response to the Committee’s third report

Her Majesty's Government

Government response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on BAME people. Having considered its findings alongside other reports and evidence, the Government is committed to reduce Covid-19 disparities for ethnic minority groups. On 22 October 2020 the Minister for Equalities published her first quarterly report on progress to tackle the disparities in Covid-19 risks and outcomes highlighted by the Public Health England review. The second quarterly report was published on 26 February. The first report included a comprehensive overview of the actions the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is taking in relation to the recommendations made in PHE’s ‘Beyond the Data’ report. Both quarterly reports also summarise the measures that other government departments and their agencies have, to date, put in place to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. The government response to each of the Committee’s recommendations is set out in this response. Some of these have already been actioned. For example, the Race Disparity Unit already has a section on Covid-19 by ethnicity on the Ethnicity Facts and Figures website. Others will be picked up under existing streams of work. The new Equality Hub, in the Cabinet Office, brings together the Disability Unit, Government Equalities Office, Race Disparity Unit and, from 1 April, the sponsorship of the Social Mobility Commission. The Government Equalities Office’s remit relates to gender equality, LGBT rights and the overall framework of equality legislation for Great Britain, and the other units’ areas of focus are on cross-government disability policy and ethnic disparities respectively.

Last updated on hub: 09 March 2021

Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people: third report of session 2019-21

House of Commons

Findings from an inquiry exploring the extent to which, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) people have been affected by pre-existing inequalities across a huge range of areas, including health, employment, accessing Universal Credit, housing and the no recourse to public funds policy. The report considers the health factors that have exacerbated the impact of the coronavirus pandemic for BAME people, including the role played by comorbidities, health inequalities, and other wider determinants of health. It examines the interplay between an individual’s occupation and their exposure to the virus; the relationship between pre-existing occupational inequality and how this was heightened by the economic consequences of the pandemic; and how BAME people have been particularly affected by zero-hour contracts during the pandemic. The report also looks at some of the challenges faced by BAME people when applying for Universal Credit (UC), as more people are turning to the UC system to access necessary support; and examines how pre-existing housing inequalities amplified the impact of coronavirus for BAME communities, focusing on the health impacts of overcrowding and housing conditions. Finally, the report highlights early evidence suggesting that there are severe impacts of the no recourse to public funds policy that need to be addressed.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 2020

Unequal impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services: full report. Fourth report of session 2019–21

House of Commons

This report considers disabled people's access to food shopping, health and social care services and provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities during the pandemic. It also examines the effectiveness and accessibility of the Government’s consultation and communications with disabled people about coronavirus. Disabled people who already faced substantial barriers to full participation in society, for example because services were inaccessible or they had additional health, care and support or special educational needs, have suffered a range of profoundly adverse effects from the pandemic, including starkly disproportionate and tragic deaths. The report argues that: the Government must justify its assertion that “we need to get away from the food parcel model” by publishing an ongoing assessment of disabled people’s needs for help accessing food; potentially discriminatory critical care guidelines and doctors’ blanket use of do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) notices caused disabled people great distress; the Government should work with the NHS, British Medical Association and people with learning disabilities to ensure full reintroduction of annual health checks across the NHS and increase take up; the Government must bring forward a social care reform package, including actions to improve the quality and personalisation of care and support for working age disabled people across all social care settings; the Government must prioritise its SEND review and bring forward as a matter of urgency reforms; the Government must consult widely with disabled people and their organisations on ways to embed in the forthcoming National Strategy for Disabled People genuinely effective mechanisms by which disabled people can influence policies and practices which directly affect them. Ministers and officials involved in communicating public health messages to disabled people should undergo training in psychologically informed communications which take fully into account and empathise with disabled people’s lived experiences.

Last updated on hub: 19 April 2021

Unequal impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services: Government response to the Committee’s fourth report: fourth special report of session 2019–21

House of Commons

Government response to the ‘Unequal impact? COVID-19, disability and access to services’ report by the Women and Equalities Select Committee on 22 December 2020. The response addresses the report recommendations in relation to impacts on food accessibility; statutory code of practice on the public sector equality duty; impacts on health and social care; impacts on education and children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND); national strategy for disabled people; diversity and inclusion in practice; accessible communications; and the call for an independent inquiry. Responding to the call to bring forward a social care reform package, which includes the whole sector, in this financial year, the Government states that it is committed to the improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals this year. Its objectives for reform are to enable an affordable, high quality and sustainable adult social care system that meets people’s needs, whilst supporting health and care to join up services around people. DHSC wants to ensure that every person receives the care they need and that it is provided with the dignity they deserve.

Last updated on hub: 19 April 2021

Unequal impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services: interim report on temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act

House of Commons

This report considers the extent to which the temporary Coronavirus Act provisions have the potential to substantially restrict or curtail important rights that disabled people rely on for their quality of life. Where local authorities’ resources are severely affected by the pandemic, temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act can essentially replace Care Act duties with a duty to meet care and support needs only where not doing so would be a breach of an individual’s human rights. The report highlights concerns about evidence from the Local Government Association that some local authorities had taken a pre-emptive approach, triggering an easement in case it became necessary. It argues that the current process is not stringent enough to provide confidence that easements cannot be triggered for anything other than severe demand or resource issues caused by the pandemic. On balance, and subject to further guidance and increase transparency being implemented, the report accepts that the Care Act easement provisions may need to remain in place over the winter period. However, it argues that these provisions must not remain available in statute for any longer than is strictly necessary and must not become new norms, setting back disabled people’s rights by many years.

Last updated on hub: 29 September 2020

Unequal impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services: interim report on temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act: Government response to the Committee’s first report: second special report of session 2019–20

House of Commons

This memorandum sets out the Government’s response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s interim report on temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act and the use of these for disabled people. It considers the recommendations made by the Committee in relation to three measures introduced under the Coronavirus Act 2020: Care Act easements, changes to the Mental Health Act and modifications to education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment and plan processes. The Government welcomes the Committee’s interim recommendations as well as the wider inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 for disabled people. Several actions (outlined in full in this document) have been taken to achieve an appropriate balance between responding to the pandemic and ensuring that disabled people have access to the services they need. This includes ensuring transparency regarding Care Act easements, removing Mental Health Act provisions from the Coronavirus Act and deciding not to renew the modification notice regarding EHC assessments.

Last updated on hub: 26 January 2021

Unjust pains: the impact of COVID-19 on children in prison

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to consider the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the treatment of children in penal custody. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is a viewpoint piece that analyses the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for children in custody, drawing on published information where available. Findings: This paper argues that imprisoned children are an extremely vulnerable group, whose experience of incarceration exacerbates that vulnerability at the best of times. Responses to COVID-19 are particularly painful for children in those settings, and the consequences are manifestly unjust. Originality/value: This paper provides an early attempt to consider the impact of COVID-19 on children in prison.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020

Unlimited potential: report of the Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood

Fawcett Society

This report sets out how gender expectations significantly limit children, causing problems such as lower self-esteem in girls and poorer reading skills in boys. The report finds that stereotypes contribute towards the mental health crisis among children and young people, are at the root of girls’ problems with body image and eating disorders, higher male suicide rates and violence against women and girls. Stereotyped assumptions also significantly limit career choices, contributing to the gender pay gap. The report also evidences that parents want to see change and sets out a number of practical solutions. Key findings include: three quarters of parents (74%) say boys and girls are treated differently, and six in 10 (60%) say this has negative impacts; 70% of mothers and 60% of fathers agree that this unequal treatment affects how able boys are to talk about their emotions; asked what work parents could see their kids doing when they grow up, seven times as many could see their sons working in construction (22%) compared to just 3% for their daughters, while almost three times as many could see their daughters in nursing or care work (22%), compared to 8% in relation to their sons; 66% of parents want to see companies voluntarily advertise toys to boys and girls in the same way; and four in ten (38%) education practitioners had either had negligible training, or none at all, on challenging gender stereotypes before starting their role.

Last updated on hub: 22 December 2020

Unmet clinical needs for COVID-19 tests in UK health and social care settings

PLoS ONE

There is an urgent requirement to identify which clinical settings are in most need of COVID-19 tests and the priority role(s) for tests in these settings to accelerate the development of tests fit for purpose in health and social care across the UK. This study sought to identify and prioritize unmet clinical needs for COVID-19 tests across different settings within the UK health and social care sector via an online survey of health and social care professionals and policymakers. Four hundred and forty-seven responses were received between 22nd May and 15th June 2020. Hospitals and care homes were recognized as the settings with the greatest unmet clinical need for COVID-19 diagnostics, despite reporting more access to laboratory molecular testing than other settings. Hospital staff identified a need for diagnostic tests for symptomatic workers and patients. In contrast, care home staff expressed an urgency for screening at the front door to protect high-risk residents and limit transmission. The length of time to test result was considered a widespread problem with current testing across all settings. Rapid tests for staff were regarded as an area of need across general practice and dental settings alongside tests to limit antibiotics use.

Last updated on hub: 07 January 2021

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