The Budget’s hidden impact and missed opportunity on race equality
While some may welcome the Chancellor’s spring Budget with caution, for many people who are Black, Asian or minority ethnic, the government’s latest Budget could prove disastrous.
Every Budget is an opportunity to take action on the issues affecting our society. Every missed opportunity to create a more equal society simply exacerbates inequality and in particular, race inequality.
Before the Spring Statement was announced, we said to look out for what the Chancellor does to expand affordable social housing. If there was one thing our current leadership could target that would really make a difference to racial equality, it would be to comprehensively expand social housing.
There was no mention at all of housing in the Budget. Literally nothing. Even though we know a supply of decent, safe, secure homes is urgently needed, particularly for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
This Budget missed an opportunity to really make a difference. This country urgently needs bold long term solutions to the big issues we face – on housing, as well as the cost of living, energy prices, employment, health, and the climate emergency.
The lack of decent housing has pushed millions of people in the UK into insecure, expensive and often overcrowded accommodation. These experiences embed racial inequality. Rents and mortgages continue to increase and many families are spiralling into homelessness.
We need to invest in our society, invest in our communities. Building more affordable homes is an effective way to address chronic poverty.
Housing is at the heart of poverty for many Black, Asian and minority ethnic Britons – they spend more on housing than other people in society, they are more likely to experience overcrowding, they are concentrated in busy polluted metropolitan areas, and disproportionate numbers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are facing eviction since the pandemic.
Another key thing the Chancellor could have done to address race equality, is to measure how his policies impact Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, by publishing an Equalities Impact Assessment for his Budget. The Chancellor’s failure to publish such a document means that the full impact of fiscal decisions are hidden.
The Office of Budget Responsibility confirmed recently that living standards would fall by 6% over the next two years – the biggest decline since records began – which experts say could be even worse for Black people.
The wealth gap in the UK has steadily increased over recent years, and has been a key driver of the country’s rising inequality, with inflation adding to this inequality and helping to drive the UK’s housing crisis. The government’s complete inaction on many of the key drivers of poverty and inequality, including soaring rents and benefit cuts, is to the detriment of race equality.
There appears to be no appetite by the government to change the structural inequalities that currently exist. People on the lowest incomes in this country are being hit hardest by the rising cost of living and a worsening housing crisis.
We urgently need long term strategic planning to address this inequality. Until the government addresses key issues like housing, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people will continue to face racial inequality.