The review starkly states that Black people in this country are more than four times more likely to die of Covid-19 than the white British population.
However community leaders in Lambeth have expressed disappointment and concern that the review fails to acknowledge the long-standing discrimination in society that underpins this outcome, or propose a way forward for tackling the long-standing disadvantage faced by Black people.
Word from the Cabinet
Cllr Sonia Winfred, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, said: “We have a review, whose release was reportedly delayed for fear of creating racial tension in the community, that states people from disadvantaged backgrounds face a greater threat to their lives from C19 that other communities. It also explains why in very general terms.
“But the fact that Black people face shorter lives and greater disadvantage is not new or news, it is a well-established fact. So I speak on behalf of our communities in saying that we are very disappointed that in 2020 our national leaders have failed to act, or shown any genuine inclination to meaningfully find solutions.
“This week in Lambeth we have paid tribute to George Floyd whose violent death at the hands of a police officer in the US has resulted in murder charge. It is a shocking incident that has led to an outpouring of grief, but one that many people feel is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the discrimination Black people still face – not just in the US, but in our own society too.
“In Lambeth we too have had major struggles with issues of policing and community relations. More recently the dissolution of community policing has eroded trust, understanding and community relations. This is a grave situation.”
Lambeth Council and its community partners have run programmes to tackle inequality issues such as low pay, access to well paid jobs, the inequality experienced by Black people in mental health services, safety for young people, to support families in the borough’s most deprived wards and to improve housing conditions.
Lambeth council is also working to address structural inequalities in the borough by continuing wider engagement with communities in Lambeth to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable. The council has commissioned new research to survey the impact of coronavirus on our borough – data which the council intends to discuss and debate with Lambeth community leaders at a listening event which will be held later this month to hear those concerns and inform the council’s approach as plans for recovery are developed.
Cllr Winifred said: “We are working with the community in Lambeth on a borough wide approach to tackling inequality. But we are just one borough – with plenty of good will and determination – but as a single local authority we have limited power and resources – especially having just spent more than £40million extra on the C19 crisis.
“What the PHE review illustrates to me is that we need a national commitment – that is properly coordinated in partnership with communities – to tackle the persistent inequality, discrimination and disadvantage that very clearly still negatively impacts on the lives of Black people in this country.”