What is “essential” in UK?

A range of different forms of confinement and quarantine were implemented around the world in order to slow down the spread of the pandemic and avoid a collapse of overburdened health systems. In that process, low-paid services such as home deliveries, food processing, garbage collection and care-giving were identified as “essential”.

In most comparatively affluent countries those services are largely provided by immigrants and yet, as reported from the UK by Imogen Richmond-Bishop of Just Fair, “COVID-19 has disproportionately affected migrant communities” through drops in income; limited access to welfare support; barriers for homeless migrants to access accommodation and overcrowded and substandard housing.”

One of the measures introduced in the UK in 2012 as part of the “Hostile Environment” (for immigrants) is the “No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF) provision. A person with NRPF cannot access most welfare benefits or social housing. Without the safety net of social security, many families with NRPF end up living in destitution and are at high risk of exploitation and abuse. As a result, 32 percent of foreign-born households live in poverty compared to 19 percent for white British-born people.

By Imogen Richmond-Bishop, Dr Sara Bailey, from Just Fair.

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Source: Report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2020.