Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people’s experiences of public services including housing, health and education are marred by discrimination, a cross-party group of peers has said.
The House of Lords Public Services Committee heard what they described as ‘stark and shocking’ evidence from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) representatives about access to public services earlier this year.
The committee has now written to Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove to ask why the government and councils have failed to provide sufficient authorised sites for Gypsies and Travellers, including permanent sites and negotiated stopping sites.
Around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers in England currently live at the roadside due to of a shortage of stopping sites, with many struggling to access basic amenities. The life expectancy of GRT people is also said to be 10-25 years less than the general population.
The committee’s letter said that ‘as part of Mission Seven of the Levelling Up agenda, the Government should urgently address the vast disparities in life expectancy among GRT communities.’
Mission seven of the levelling up agenda states: ‘By 2030, the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) between local areas where it is highest and lowest will have narrowed, and by 2035 HLE will rise by fve years.’
The committee also called on the Government to do more to ensure that authorised sites have sufficient digital provision to enable people to use online public services.
They also said that providers should be supported to tailor the delivery of public services to the needs of GRT communities.
Baroness Armstrong, chair of the Public Services Committee, said: ‘It is unclear what the Government is doing to address the inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Its ‘levelling up’ plan mentions the Romans three times but there’s not a word about Roma or Romany people or Travellers.
‘Appropriate provision of sites is the first step in addressing unequal access to and experience of public services such as health and education.
‘The causes of the appalling and unacceptable disparity in life expectancy among GRT communities should be addressed urgently.
‘Education is central to social inclusion and wellbeing, but GRT children historically have been left behind. The barriers they face, including discrimination and bullying at school and a lack of suitable job opportunities afterwards, should cause the government deep concern.’