An Inclusive Britain and the CRED report: EQUAL's comments
The government has today released its response to the controversial Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) report - first published in March 2021 after mounting pressure for the UK to respond to the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in the USA.
The 2022 response, entitled Inclusive Britain, is part of the government’s Levelling Up (LU) action plan, led by Michael Gove. It aims to set out a long-term vision to address racial disparity across policing, health and education and includes 74 actions for government.
EQUAL, along with other members of the voluntary and community sector, made clear our stance against the Commission's rejection of institutional racism and its impact on ethnic minority communities in the original report. EQUAL Vice-Chair, Jeremy Crook, stated: "It is now clear to Black, Asian and mixed heritage people that the Commission has failed to grasp the considerable evidence of institutional and structural racism in the UK."
Now, in relation to the Inclusive Britain response, EQUAL agrees with the government's concern that the Levelling Up programme can only succeed if race equality is integral to every LU policy and programme.
The government cannot afford for race equality to be an afterthought in its LU plans, and we welcome the emphasis across civil society. However, we also believe the report needs to do more.
Some of our immediate concerns and thoughts on the action plan are outlined below:
Terminology should not be used as a distraction to divert attention away from taking effective action and delivering positive change for Black and Asian communities.
Finding a term (or terms) that most Black, Asian, mixed heritage and other minorities will be content with is very difficult. We do not believe the term ‘ethnic minority’ provides any better nuance. We want to see Government and employers take effective action in the right areas to end race disparities especially in education, employment and criminal justice system.
Action for Race Equality will be conducting a national survey of Black, Asian and Mixed heritage young people to find out what ethnicity term/s they want to see race equality campaigners and policy makers use.
Ethnicity pay gap
Ethnicity pay gap reporting must be mandatory for employers.
It is disappointing the Government has chosen to produce only ethnicity pay gap guidance for employers.
We do not believe this will change the long-embedded biases and practices of employers to make our workplaces more equitable. We only expect pay gaps to be exacerbated as workers' pay lags well behind inflationary rises following the COVID19 pandemic.
Criminal justice system
New local police accountability structures are urgently needed but they must developed in partnership with local Black and Asian communities and involve young people.
EQUAL and Action for Race Equality welcome new policies to reduce the disgraceful and disproportionate numbers of young Black men in the prison and youth justice system.
However, we need the Metropolitan Police and other police services to end their misuse of stop and search powers, and focus on building trust and confidence among Black communities. The new framework must work to integrate the feedback and concerns of Black and ethnic minority communities seriously and with sensitivity.
The police do need to be more accountable to their local communities, but resources must be available to enable local Black leaders and groups to engage in these processes.