Aletha Adu, The Guardian, December 28, 2022
Labour has reaffirmed its commitment to tackle structural racism after new analysis showed black households are five times more likely to struggle making energy bills repayments.
Black and minority ethnic people were already 2.5 times more likely to be in relative poverty, and 2.2 times more likely to live in deep poverty (defined as having an income more than 50% below the relative poverty line), than their white counterparts regardless of the energy crisis, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
Labour analysis has revealed black households are also four times more likely to be behind on rent or mortgage payments than white adults. On top of this, more than two-thirds of black adults are finding it difficult to afford their energy bills, compared with 45% of all adults; and 21% of black adults saying they are behind on payments, compared with 5% of all adults.
The cost of living crisis has disproportionately affected low-income households who often spend a larger share of their income on fuel and food. As inflation reached a 41-year high of 11.1% in October after Liz Truss’s mini-budget, the average household income post-tax fell by 4.3%, the largest fall on record.
Rishi Sunak and the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, spent the days leading up to the autumn budget claiming those with the broadest shoulders would pay their fair share. Hunt pledged to protect the most vulnerable in society amid the worst fall in living standards on record.
But Labour have said black families have been left alone to deal with an immense mental and physical toll to keep a roof over their head this winter. The shadow women and equalities secretary, Anneliese Dodds, said: “The Conservatives crashed the economy and as usual they have failed to take responsibility for fixing it.
“The mental and physical toll put on people unable to heat their homes or keep a roof over their head is staggering – and it’s particularly intense for black families.
“Labour has a long-term plan to tackle the structural racism that scars our society and leaves black, Asian and minority ethnic people worse off, through our race equality act. And while the Conservatives fail to get a grip on this acute winter crisis we have practical, common-sense policies to help people with the cost of living, including by insulating homes and helping with the cost of childcare and broadband.”
It comes after the New Economics Foundation warned black, Asian and other minority ethnic households will experience an increase in the cost of living, 1.6 times higher than their white counterparts, as people on low or insecure incomes are often forced into pricier arrangements such as prepayment meters, higher-cost credit or being unable to buy everyday goods such as food in bulk.
Labour has vowed to tackle structural racism across society, with the party saying earlier this year that the structural barriers faced by BAME groups leave them at greater risk to the cost of living crisis, as it was revealed four out of five black households have less than £1,500 in savings.