This year’s Black Lives Matter protests was a global event that saw thousands of people across the US, Europe, Asia & Africa stand together in solidarity against the senseless killing of George Floyd. Now- this wasn’t the first time a black man or woman was the victim of racially motivated violence (read up bout Stephen Lawrence or Trayvon Martin) and sadly, it won’t be the last, however, as tragic the event was, it brought a lot of conversations integral to the dismantling of systematic and covert racism to the forefront of mainstream media discussions, including the topic of financial Inequality.
WHAT IS FINANCIAL INEQUALITY?
In simple terms, financial inequality is concerned with the extent to which income is distributed unequally within a population. Where BAME communities are concerned, such an inequality can manifest itself in terms of the job position available, for example, research findings demonstrate that black people are more likely to work in low paid service sector jobs with very little prospects of career progression, and that they are more likely to find it difficult to get on to the property ladder.
The recent pandemic has also highlighted further disparities between BAME communities and debt. For instance, a research study conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that borrowers from black communities had the highest debt levels compared to other groups and that the BAME community was more likely to have faced financial difficulties prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. Another study by Citizens Advice also revealed that 1 in 3 or 31% of black people have fallen behind with bill payments due to the pandemic.
Overall, there are a number of readily available research studies which indicate a significant racial disparity where debt and finances are concerned amongst those from Afro-Caribbean and African backgrounds and whilst, leaders of many well-known organisations where keen to put out a statement condemning any type of racism and implement diversity initiatives this is an issue that requires so much more work to dismantle.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
There isn’t a comprehensive or ‘one size fits all’ approach to minimising the risks of debt and financial inequality amongst the black community, however, it is certain that such a responsibility must be shared amongst the government, the labour market, the social and welfare system and the black community. Senior management teams, c-suit executives and leaders across these industries and communities must be able to identify and skilfully counteract a range of factors that contribute to these risks and provide more job opportunities and easier access to housing amongst BAME communities.
WHAT IS BEING DONE?
Debt Free London and their partners have done an amazing job in supporting hundreds and thousands of Londoners out of debt - this is something that I have witnessed myself. They help people with debt problems through thoroughly analysing each client’s situation and creating person centred solutions that is best suited to the client’s requirements, this can be anything from negotiating with creditors on behalf of the client or educating the client about a range of insolvency options such as debt relief orders or debt management plans. They foster a judgment free environment where clients will feel at ease in discussing their issues and always endeavour to empower clients to take control of their situation as opposed to the situation controlling them. Staff members are passionate about their work and are eager to help.