TACKLING issues like race inequality in the provision of public services was Theresa May’s “mission in politics,” No 10 declared as the UK Government published its racial disparity audit.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted that the details on the new Ethnicity Facts and Figures website provided an “unprecedented level of transparency” about how different races experienced a range of public services from health and education to employment and the criminal justice system.
Hosting a diversity event in Downing Street, Mrs May admitted the statistics were uncomfortable reading and that Britain had a “way to go” to create an equal society. But she made clear tackling ethnic injustice was a “personal priority” for her and the audit would become an “essential resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustice”.
“What this audit shows,” explained the PM, “is there isn’t anywhere to hide. That’s not just for Government, it’s for society as a whole.”
She went on: “Britain has come a long way in promoting equality and opportunity but what the data we’ve published shows is that we still have a way to go if we are going to truly have a country that works for everyone.”
This, of course, was the sentiment Mrs May expressed when she stood on the steps of No 10 delivering her first mission statement as the country’s leader.
The PM led a discussion on the audit at Cabinet when she described how on a school visit on Monday in south London she had met a black student, who had wanted to be a lawyer.
However, having seen the lack of diversity in the judiciary, the student told her he wondered if it was a profession in which he could progress. “She was clearly touched by the boy’s story,” said her spokesman.
The audit found that while state-educated white Britons had the lowest rate for going to university, they were also less likely to be unemployed than ethnic minorities and were more likely to own their own home.
It also found:
*Asian, black and other ethnic groups were disproportionately likely to be on a low income with almost half of households in the bottom 40 per cent before housing costs were taken into account;
*households of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, black, mixed and other backgrounds were more likely to receive income-related benefits and tax credits than those in other ethnic groups;
*ethnic minorities are more likely to live in areas of deprivation, especially black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people;
*white pupils from state schools had the lowest university entry rate of any ethnic group in 2016 while Chinese pupils had the highest school attainment, made the most progress and were the most likely to stay in education and go to university;
*white people were among the least likely to become a victim of crime or to fear becoming a victim and
*black offenders had the highest rate of reoffending compared with other ethnic groups from 2006 to 2014.
Scottish figures were limited in the audit because the Scottish Government refused to co-operate, saying its forthcoming Race Equality Action Plan would better reflect Scotland’s circumstances and needs.
However, one section showed among the 42,800 civil servants in Scotland, the nation had the lowest proportion of workers from black and ethnic minority communities in Britain at just 2.1 per cent; the rest, 97.9 per cent, were white.
At the 2011 census, some four per cent of Scotland’s population was said to be non-white, having doubled in the previous decade, which suggests that since 2011 it has probably increased further.
During a Commons statement, Damian Green, the First Secretary of State, said an early proposal to tackle racial inequality would be the creation of 20 “hotspots,” which include Glasgow, Birmingham, Hackney and Kensington and Chelsea, where special measures would be taken, including mentoring schemes to help ethnic minorities into work, and traineeships for 16-24 year-olds, offering English, Maths and vocational training alongside work placements.
But Dawn Butler for Labour claimed because the PM had overseen damaging Tory cuts, she had done nothing but exacerbate the problem of racial inequality. “Far from tackling burning injustices, she has added fuel to the fire,” she declared.
“If the Prime Minister really feels so strongly about this issue, why did she sit on this report and refuse to share it with Parliament; despite Labour asking her to publish it three months ago? This Government’s report is not enough. What we need are solutions and a sustained effort to really tackle burning injustices,” added the Shadow Equalities minister.
Source: As featured on the Sunday Herold.