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Government urged to reverse equality watchdog cuts as ...

Government urged to reverse equality watchdog cuts as hate crimes increase

14 July 2016

Unite the union and the Public and Commercial Services union joined forces today (Thursday 14 July) to urge the government to reverse cuts of 25 per cent to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in the wake of a 50 per cent increase in hate crimes since the Brexit vote.

The unions, which represent workers at the commission, warn that the latest round of cuts will lead to less support for victims of discrimination and undermine the ability of the EHRC to effectively challenge discrimination and hate crime at a time when it’s on the rise.

The 25 per cent cut over the next four years will lead to fewer caseworkers supporting victims of discrimination and the closure of the commission’s offices in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle. 

Having already faced massive cuts of 70 per cent since 2010, resulting in the loss of its specialist helpline and closure of its conciliation service and grants programme, the EHRC now faces losing its United Nations ‘A’ status as a national human rights institution because of a lack of funding.

The call to reverse the cuts is part of a joint Unite and PCS campaign to save the EHRC, with both unions urging the public to contact their MP.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The Equality and Human Rights Commission is on the frontline in challenging discrimination and hate crime. Further cuts, especially at a time when hate crime is on the rise is irresponsible and will lead to less support for victims of discrimination.

“Cutting caseworkers down to just three to cover the whole of the UK and closing the commission’s remaining offices will only undermine efforts to tackle discrimination in the wake of the Brexit vote. We urge the government to think again and reverse its cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Racism is nothing new, but it is clear the EU referendum and Brexit vote have encouraged and created a space for even more hatred against migrants.

“Instead of slashing EHRC’s budgets again the government should be investing significant resources to tackle the threat we’re seeing from a rise in hate crime and discrimination.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869, or PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

Notes to editors

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey
  • PCS represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector.