Parliamentary Committee launches Inquiry to ‘tackle Gypsy, Roma and Traveller inequalities’ – call for evidence.

29 November 2016

A Parliamentary Committee has just announced a far-reaching Inquiry into the inequalities faced by the UK’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) people.

Following a meeting with GRT campaigners and policy workers, the Women and Equalities Committee announce the Inquiry on the 24th November last week.

Maria Miller, who heads the Parliamentary committee, said:

"Gypsies, Roma and Travellers experience poorer health, under achieve at school and can find it difficult to access public services. We have launched this inquiry to look at the effectiveness of policymaking and what action the Government can take to tackle these and other inequalities. The committee is particularly keen to hear directly from Gypsies, Roma and Travellers about their own experiences."

The committee added in a statement that GRT men, women and children “face high levels of hostility and discrimination, with GRT children particularly vulnerable to bullying in school.”

The committee is asking for GRT support groups and individual campaigners to respond with evidence for the Inquiry ‘Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’, with the deadline for submissions on Friday 27th January.

In 2012 a ministerial working group published 28 commitments to tackle inequalities faced by Gypsies and Travellers. The inquiry will look again at these commitments and the progress made by the Government in achieving them. GRT campaigner claim that no progress has been made and that the working group only met once.

The inquiry committee noted that although ‘the educational attainment of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children in England has improved in recent years, the attainment gap for Gypsy and Roma children has widened, while the gap between Travellers of Irish heritage and white pupils has remained unchanged.’

Only one in five Gypsy and Roma children and fewer than one in three Traveller children achieve ‘a good level of development’ in their early years, compared to six out of ten other white children.

A lower proportion of Gypsy and Roma children (13.8%) and Traveller children (17.5%) achieved the GCSE threshold in 2012-13, compared to 60% of other white children, they added.

The committee also stated that compared with the general population, Gypsies and Travellers are more likely to suffer bad health. This includes higher infant and maternal mortality rates, low child immunisation levels, higher prevalence of anxiety and depression, chronic cough or bronchitis (even after smoking is taken into account), asthma, chest pain and diabetes in comparison to the general population.

‘Many Gypsies and Travellers remain unregistered with GPs,’ they said.

There is also emerging evidence, stated the committee, that health inequalities of Roma people are similar to those identified among Gypsies and Travellers. Poor familiarity with healthcare provisions and language barriers may make it difficult to access health services.

The inquiry will also be examining ‘hostility and harassment’ that is a daily fact of life for many GRT people.

The committee stated that according to the Spring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, 50% of people in Britain reported having an unfavourable view of Roma;

Discrimination and harassment of Gypsies Roma and Travellers is common across Britain, including by police and other authorities;

A survey of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers undertaken by the Traveller Movement earlier this year found that 98% of respondents had experienced discrimination and 81% hate crime or hate speech. The survey also reported that 77% hide their ethnicity as a defence mechanism against discrimination and persecution and as a means of securing employment.

The Committee is now seeking written evidence on the following issues:

What progress has been made in achieving the commitments of the Ministerial Working Group on tackling inequalities experienced by Gypsies and Travellers?

Have these commitments delivered a tangible improvement in the position of Gypsy and Traveller communities?

How well has this work been led, managed and monitored across Government?  Has sufficient funding been provided, and has adequate funding been identified for the future?

What mechanisms have been put in place to achieve the Ministerial Working Group’s commitments and other policy aims for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities?

Is adequate data available to underpin policy-making? Where are the most significant gaps in the evidence base, and what are the reasons for those gaps?

How effectively has policy taken into account the diverse needs of different Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, and a developing context including greater use of social media?

How effective are mechanisms for engagement and dialogue between national and local policy-makers and members of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities?

In what areas of public life are inequalities against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities evident? How do these affect access to services, outcomes and life chances for people in those communities? How well are these reflected in policy priorities?

Are there particular challenges faced by groups within GRT communities, for example women and LGB&T people?

To send a written submission to the ‘tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’ inquiry, please follow this link to the inquiry page on the Parliamentary website.

The deadline for written submissions is Friday 27 January 2017.