Watchdog warns over ‘stuttering’ efforts to address ‘entrenched’ race inequality

Black and ethnic minority people still face entrenched race inequality in the UK and efforts to address the problem have been “piecemeal and stuttering”, a watchdog has warned.

A review examining areas including education, employment, housing, pay, health and criminal justice painted an “alarming picture”, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Commission chairman David Isaac said its report “underlines just how entrenched and far-reaching race inequality remains” and he dismissed attempts to tackle the problem as “more one-nation platitudes than policies”.

He said: “The combination of the post-Brexit rise in hate crime and deep race inequality in Britain is very worrying and must be tackled urgently.”

He added: “We must redouble our efforts to tackle race inequality urgently or risk the divisions in our society growing and racial tensions increasing.

“If you are black or an ethnic minority in modern Britain, it can often still feel like you’re living in a different world, never mind being part of a one-nation society.”

The commission, which carried out an analysis of existing evidence, said:

  • Black people in England are more than three times more likely to be a victim of homicide than those who are white;
  • Unemployment rates were “significantly higher” for ethnic minorities;
  • Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than white employees with the qualifications;
  • Ethnic minority people were more likely to live in poverty than white people;
  • Ethnic minorities are still “hugely under-represented” in positions of power – such as judges and police chiefs.

Poorer white communities also face “continuing disadvantage”, the report added.

The commission said there has been progress in some areas, citing an increase in the number of ethnic minority MPs and a rise in the proportion with a degree-level qualification across all ethnic groups.

Mr Isaac called for the Government to introduce a comprehensive race equality strategy, arguing that the approach in recent years has been “stuttering”.

He said: “We need to build a fair society in which our origins do not determine our destinies.”

The commission recommended that responsibility for the strategy be brought under one Secretary of State, and said new targets to improve opportunities and outcomes for ethnic minority communities should be introduced.

A Government spokeswoman said ministers are “committed to making Britain a country that works for everyone”.

She said: “That means delivering real social reform, so that all citizens have the opportunity to realise their full potential.

“We are making real progress – with BME employment rates at their highest levels for 15 years.

“But there is clearly more to do, which is why we are delivering a comprehensive race equality programme on employment, university places, apprenticeships, start-up loans and recruitment to the police and armed forces.”

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