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Black communities hit by spending cuts, says charity

PROTEST: One in five local authorities are ignoring the needs of black communities when planning spending cuts

AS MANY as one in five local authorities are ignoring the needs of black communities when planning spending cuts according to a leading health charity.

The Afiya Trust, a charity that tackles health and social care inequalities, claim that many of the country’s local authorities who serve areas with large black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, are failing in their statutory duty to promote equality in their provision of services.

The charity say this means that local authority funded BME community organisations are being closed at short notice and much services such as luncheon clubs, respite care for carers, day centres and mental health are disappearing.

On Monday (March 5) The Afiya Trust joined forces with Carers UK to launch Living in the Margins, a social media influenced campaign at the House of Commons.

The campaign was based on the responses of 118 local authorities to a Freedom of Information Act request from November 2011 to February 2012.

It’s organisers wanted to find out how many adult social services departments in local authorities conducted Equality Impact Assessments as part of the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.

Despite a response rate of over 75 per cent, the preliminary findings found that one in five adult social services departments did not collect data on the funding allocated to BME voluntary and community sector organisations or conduct Equality Impact Assessments.

STUDY: Patrick Vernon, The Afiya Trust’s Chief Executive

Patrick Vernon, The Afiya Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “There is clear evidence that many local authorities are not delivering on their legal requirement as of part of the public sector equality duty to conduct Equality Impact Assessments when making funding cuts that affect BME communities. This comes at a time when BME communities are experiencing one of the largest increases in health inequalities and one of the largest reductions in social mobility since the 1940s. Yet, from our initial findings, they are bearing a significant brunt of the cuts.”

Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Equalities, who is supporting the campaign, said: “This new interim research from The Afiya Trust shows a worrying picture of the real impact of spending cuts on social care services for people from BME communities. Some ethnic groups already suffer considerable health inequalities so cutting back on social care services they rely on, including culturally competent services and those delivered by grassroots BME groups, will make the situation worse. Local and national government need to urgently respond to the research findings.”

Richard West, who has learning disabilities and was a long term carer to his partner, added: “It has always been a struggle to get the professional support for myself and for me as a carer. Now the little support I had has been taken away. The constant battle to get the right services led to a difficult home life and increased stress. As a result my partner is moving back into residential care. Left without any support I can’t manage my money, find it difficult to eat well or understand what my GP or diabetic nurse tells me. Without a preventative approach, we are leaving a larger problem for everyone in the future.”

A full report, based on the Freedom of Information Act request to all 153 local authorities, including a league table and case studies, will be published in the summer.

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