Austerity Research Shows BME Households And Women Are Worst Hit - Proving Theresa May's Warning Right

Even the prime minister warned in 2010 that cuts could hit minorities the hardest.

Years of Conservative-led austerity have had a “devastating” impact on black and minority ethnic (BME) women and households, the Government has been warned by a new report.

The research found the poorest black households stand to lose an average of £8,400 a year - a fall in living standards of nearly a fifth - between 2010 and 2020.

It calculated how cuts to services and benefits have hit households of different racial makeups since 2010 and projected where they would be three years from now, compared with before cuts began.

It also found single mothers, who account for more than 90 per cent of solo parents, would see an 18 per cent fall in living standards.

The findings reflect Theresa May’s own words from 2010, when the then Home Secretary warned of “real risks” that “women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and older people will be disproportionately hit by cuts”.

Theresa May warned in 2010 of the 'real risk' cuts would disproportionately hit women and minorities
Theresa May warned in 2010 of the 'real risk' cuts would disproportionately hit women and minorities
Phil Noble / Reuters

The research into cuts’ impact on BME women was carried out by race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust and The Women’s Budget Group.

Their report, published on Tuesday, comes as May’s Government receives its own audit on racial disparities.

The full extent of racial inequality in the UK will be revealed when May unveils a new government website detailing how the country is divided along ethnic lines.

“Theresa May has been proved right... This report shows that for the poorest BME women in particular the impact of austerity has not simply been ‘disproportionate’ but devastating,” Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, co-director of the Women’s Budget Group, said.

The research shows, within the poorest fifth of households, BME households have suffered the worst from austerity
The research shows, within the poorest fifth of households, BME households have suffered the worst from austerity
Runnymede Trust/Womens Budget Group

The research found that, by 2020:

  • The poorest fifth of families will have suffered a drop in living standards of around 17 percent

  • Within the poorest fifth, Black and Asians households will see their living standards drop by 19.2 percent and 20.1 percent respectively - an average of £8,407 and £11,678

  • Lone mothers will see their living standards drop by 18 per cent - an average of £8,790

Omar Khan, director of the Runnymede Trust, said: “What our research shows is that those who are already facing the greatest disadvantages and injustices are most affected.

“The data holds a mirror up to society, and it shows that we need a new era of partnership between government, employers and BME communities to tackle the problem together.”

Labour MP David Lammy, who chairs the all parliamentary group on racial inequality, told HuffPost: “On the day that the Government’s Racial Disparity Audit is published this report is an important piece of work that demonstrates the impact of austerity policies.

“The intersection of poverty, gender and race means that ethnic minority households and women are being hit the hardest by cuts to services and benefits. The evidence is clear...

″ I support calls for budgets to be subject to equality impact assessments as a first step towards addressing these disparities.”

The report notes BME women are more likely to live in poverty, making them more vulnerable to the cuts.

It also notes Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African households are more likely to have large families, making them more vulnerable to changes in Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit that limit payments to parents’ first two children.

Black households are also more likely to have lone parents, who are at greater risk of losing out because of new Universal Credit requirements that parents of small children be actively seeking work, the report said.

The report calls on the Government to unfreeze benefits and tax credits to allow them to rise with wages.

It also calls for a review of Universal Credit, which is still being rolled out despite grave concerns about the impact on those meant to receive it.

Dr Stephenson said: “Theresa May recently said that ‘we should not be apologetic about shining a light on injustices as never before. It is only by doing so we can make this country work for everyone, not just a privileged few’.

“The devastating impact of austerity on the living standards of BME women is surely one such injustice.

“This is the sort of analysis that the Government itself should be doing but the Treasury has repeatedly failed to publish meaningful analysis of the cumulative impact of austerity policies.

“If we are truly to see a country that works for everyone then the government needs to take urgent action to both analyse the impact of its policies and take action to reverse the damage caused by austerity.”


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