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Plans to help Scotland recover from coronavirus must address long-standing inequalities, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Responding to the Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s coronavirus inquiry, the EHRC warned that existing inequalities are likely to have been exacerbated by the pandemic, as well as by state responses to its spread.
Highlighting reports of rising domestic abuse during lockdown, the EHRC said any recovery plan must be based in promoting equality.
The regulator also pointed to the impact of COVID-19 on unpaid carers, and instances of pupils with additional support needs struggling to access support.
The commission warned that the data available for Scotland does not allow for clear and robust conclusions about the specific impact on different ethnicities in Scotland.
EHRC head of Scotland John Wilkes said: “This public health emergency has underlined and exposed inequalities in our society. Every single family in Scotland has been affected by this pandemic, with welcome acts of kindness and consideration towards our fellow citizens, many of whom have been made vulnerable both by the virus and by the well-intended actions to stall its spread.
“There’s still much to do to tackle the immediate public health crisis, so we must ensure that our shared understanding of the impact both of COVID-19 and actions taken in response to it is fully informed by robust data that shows who is being hardest hit and how best we can work together to help them.
“But it’s right that we also start to consider social and economic recovery and in doing so, we need to be honest about our starting position. Any talk of a ‘return to normal’ is misplaced; that ‘normal’ included a range of inequalities. Instead, equality and rights considerations must be the basis on which we approach decisions about what comes next.”
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