Politics

Racial Disparity Audit Lays Race Divisions Bare

The PM has urged a 'change or explain' approach to racial disparity

By Rhys Thomas

The Government has released an ambitious new report titled the ‘Racial Disparity Audit’, which looks at “entrenched” imbalances between various ethnic communities within the United Kingdom in areas such as education, health, employment and the legal system.

The data presented in the report is thorough, and whilst many of the conclusions it comes to are well known and obvious there is much of interest to mull over.

Whilst white British adults are significantly more likely to be in employment and own their own homes than those from ethnic minorities, the report determined that white working-class Brits do worse at primary school than those from other ethnic groups and almost nine out of ten white Gypsy and Roma children do not reach the expected standard for reading, writing and maths at the age of eleven.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate for those in ethnic minority groups was 8% – nearly double that of white British adults at 4.6% and this contrast was more pronounced in the north of the country than in the south.

The report and data have been made available online, and more datasets are due to be added in future when the research is carried out.

Prime Minister Theresa May conceded that the findings were “uncomfortable”, but went onto praise the undertaking of the report and commented that institutions needed to “explain or change” the imbalances in how different ethnic groups were treated.

A report by race equality thinktank The Runnymede Trust was released at the same time, and covered similar ground to the Government’s audit. They concluded that ethnic minority women were hit hardest by austerity.

Responding to both reports, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid cited the lack of English language proficiency among Bangladeshi and Pakistani women as something that his holding those two groups back. “That might be through choice in some cases, a cultural issue. But it is a big issue because it does then hold those women back from the employment market and other opportunities.” Javid’s department will be formulating a new integration strategy to tackle the problem.

The report was not welcome by all however. Former Labour deputy mayor of London Munira Mirza summed up the audit as “crude”. She elaborated “They are assuming that because there are disparities that must be driven by discrimination when in fact there are many different reasons for it,” She continued “the constant talking about institutional racism and racial bias and unfair treatment is stoking grievance and also deterring ethnic minorities from engaging with public services.”

The negative findings in the report have not come out of thin air and are the result of actions that previous Governments (both Labour and Conservative) have taken. These problems have been festering for many years and usually either ignored or exacerbated by senior politicians, but this report has the potential to be an encouraging start point for the Prime Minister to help reduce racial inequality and help integration in British society – if it is not already too late.

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