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Report shows effect of cuts on BAME women

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bameAnd the spending review is making a bad situation worse.

A ground-breaking new report published earlier this week by the Centre for Human Rights in Practice (CHRP), at the University of Warwick, Coventry Women’s Voices (CWV), Coventry Ethnic Minority Action Partnership (CEMAP) and Foleshill Women’s Training (FWT) has revealed the effect of the cuts on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women in Coventry.

It shows that BAME women are among the hardest hit by the coalition government’s programme of spending cuts.

The report, ‘Layers of inequality: a human rights and equality impact assessment of the cuts on BAME women in Coventry’, is the first of its kind in examining the combined impact of cuts in a range of areas including employment, housing, welfare benefits, health, social care, education, legal aid, violence against women and voluntary organisations.

Findings include a rise in unemployment among BAME women in Coventry – up to 74.4 per cent between 2009 and 2013.

Unemployment among white British women increased by 30.5 per cent during the same period.

It also reveals that BAME women are more likely to be poor and to receive a higher proportion of their income from benefits and tax credits.

Report author Kindy Sandhu, from CWV, said, “Our report shows that BAME women are among the hardest hit by public spending cuts across many areas.

“Now the spending review is making a bad situation worse. BAME women will lose more jobs, more money and more services.

“This is a big issue for Coventry since a third of our population is BAME, but it will be the same for BAME women across the country.

“We did not cause this situation, but we are paying the price for it.”

This is the third report from CWV examining how the government cuts have affected – and will affect – women living in Coventry.

A report in 2011, ‘Unravelling Equality’, showed how the cuts would adversely affect women.

This was followed in 2012 by ‘Getting Off Lightly, or Feeling the Pinch’, which revealed how older women in Coventry were being affected by the cuts.

The head of Coventry Council, councillor Ann Lucas said of these reports, “Both ‘Unravelling Equality and ‘Feeling the Pinch’ have had a huge impact both in Coventry and nationally.

“They bring together all the different effects of the cuts and demonstrate clearly how it is the combined impact that is most devastating.

“I am often down in Westminster and see both MPs and peers carrying around copies of these reports and referring to them frequently – they should be compulsory reading.”

To compound this, the organisations and agencies which work with BAME women are also having their funding cut.

Christine McNaught from FWT, who contributed to the report, said, “We provide health and employment services to women in one of the poorest parts of Coventry.

“The women who use our centre are suffering increased poverty because of benefit cuts, longer waiting times for medical treatment and cuts to local services.

“And because our funding has fallen from £450,000 in 2010/11 to £190,000 in 2012/13 we have fewer resources to support them.”

Adding to the effect which financial cuts are having on BAME women, are the government policies being introduced which will only make the problem greater.

As a range of agencies have warned, the delay of a week before someone can claim benefits when they lose a job may increase child poverty and force people who lose their job to turn to loan sharks and food banks, with BAME women are likely to be disproportionately affected because of their greater poverty.

There is also a perception that BAME women do not wish to learn how to speak and write in English.

Varinder Kaur, from CEMAP, said, “The announcement that job seekers must learn English in the spending review seems designed to demonise us.

“The problem is not that people refuse to learn English – the problem is that it is getting harder to get on an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class.

“The government seems to be deliberately creating the impression that the problem is about people who don’t speak English but claim benefits, even though they must know that the proportion of people who are claiming benefits and can’t speak English is miniscule, far smaller than the proportion of people who want to learn English but can’t get on a course.”

The groups involved in publishing this report hope that it will put pressure on local and national government to address the inequalities the report highlights.

Report co-author, Dr James Harrison, of the CHRP, said, “The combined impact of cuts to benefits and services will disproportionately affect many of the poorest and most vulnerable BAME women in Coventry.

“Public authorities both nationally and here in Coventry have legal obligations under the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act to promote equality and protect human rights.

“They need to take these obligations very seriously when making decisions about budget cuts.”

Pictured are Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters, Mary-Ann Stephenson from Coventry Women’s Voices, Marcia Jarrett from (CEMAP) and Kindy Sandy also from Coventry Women’s Voices.

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