Socialist Worker

Travellers are victims of racism

Issue No. 2263

Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are legally recognised as ethnic groups and covered under the Race Relations Act.

They face serious discrimination that has an impact on their health, education and living standards:

  • Life expectancy for Travellers is ten years lower than the national average
  • Traveller mothers are 20 times more likely to have experienced the death of a child than non-Travellers

  • In 2003 less than one quarter of Irish Traveller and Gypsy children got five GCSEs at grades A-C—compared to a national average of just over half

  • A third of Travellers in Britain don’t have a legal or secure place to live—many live by the roadside or on unauthorised developments in constant fear of eviction

  • Travellers are one of the most unfairly reported minorities in the media (Stonewall, 2003)

Successive governments have made the situation worse.

  • The 1994 Criminal and Justice and Public Order Act scrapped the obligation on local authorities to find sites for Travellers. Travellers were encouraged to buy their own land instead
  • Councils refuse more than 90 percent of planning applications from Travellers (Barkham, 2005). This compares to 20 percent of non-Traveller applications

  • Most local authorities are failing to meet their targets to significantly increase accommodation for Travellers by 2011, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009)

The Tories are making life worse for Travellers. The Localism Bill removes the requirement on local councils to provide alternative sites for Travellers. It puts the responsibility for determining the “appropriate” level of site provision for Travellers onto individual councils.

This will make provision a lottery and life for Travellers even more uncertain.

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