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IFS review: Britain ‘cannot duck’ inequalities post Covid

BRITAIN “cannot duck” the challenges of tackling inequalities in health, ethnicity, education and occupation when the coronavirus crisis abates, a review has warned.

The pandemic has revealed, and in some cases exacerbated, pervasive inequalities that may threaten the fabric of society, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Deaton Review of Inequalities.

Without urgent action, these gaps will widen further, warned review chairman and Nobel laureate Sir Angus Deaton in a new year briefing.

The review, which launched 18 months ago, has published an analysis of how divisions grew over 2020 as the pandemic swept through society.

It says that there is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the disadvantages faced by many that this pandemic has so devastatingly exposed.

“We now face a set of challenges which we cannot duck,” it adds.

The new year briefing highlights how ethnic minority groups and deprived communities suffered increased mortality rates from Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the best paid and most highly educated have been “much better able to ride out the crisis,” it says, with many in occupations that allowed them to work in the safety of their homes.

Children from poorer households found it harder to do schoolwork during lockdown and have been more likely to miss school since September, it notes.

And while the biggest risk factor for coronavirus is age, younger people have been hit harder by the economic consequences of the crisis.

The briefing says that there should be extra support for children who have fallen behind and for school and university leavers to find jobs.

It also argues that the welfare safety net must be adapted to support non-traditional forms of employment, including insecure and self-employed workers, and that ethnic minority groups must be given greater economic opportunities.

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