Plan to tackle racial inequality

Demand: A comprehensive race equality strategy and a UK civil rights law to reduce all areas of race inequality

Black and minority ethnic (BME) people continue to face discriminatory barriers and as a direct result have worse outcomes in life. From employment and education to housing and health, this prevents BME people from fulfilling their potential and participating fully in our country. The next government should build on the Race Disparity Audit by developing a clear strategy with time lines to close these persistent inequality gaps backed up by a law that keeps these issues on the political agenda.


Employment

Demand: Companies (more than 50 staff) should publish data on the BME pay gap and the breakdown of their workforce by ethnicityand gender.

BME workers face unfair barriers at work. As the McGregor-Smith review recently highlighted, if BME people progressed at the same rate as their white counterparts the UK economy could benefit from a £24bn-a-year boost. Race penalties exist at every level – from getting a job to reaching senior management – while BME staff are also more subject to disciplinary and bullying treatment. BME unemployment is double that of the white population (10% to 5%), while job applicants with Asian or African-sounding names have to send twice as many applications to get an interview.


Housing

Demand: Introduce a national plan to tackle ethnic inequalities in housing, including overcrowding, and crack down on discrimination by rental lettings agents and landlords.

BME citizens are more likely to live in bad housing or be homeless. There is evidence of racial discrimination by private lettings agents, including landlords turning away would-be renters out of fear of being prosecuted under the Immigration Act. Around two in five Black African families (40%) and Bangladeshi (36%) people live in over-crowded conditions.


Criminal Justice

Demand: Carry out a root and branch overhaul of the criminal justice system to tackle racial disproportionality.

BME young people today are racially profiled in police stops and searches, while also being more likely to be sent to prison – and for longer – than white British offenders. BME offenders are more likely to be prosecuted rather than reprimanded or warned, and rehabilitation after prison is severely lacking. The next government should make the justice system subject to the Equality Act and implement recommendations of the reviews by Baroness Lola Young and David Lammy MP.


Education

Demand: The Government should address the lack of BME representation in teaching and learn about the experiences of BME staff, and also introduce a ring-fenced fund to raise the attainment of disadvantaged children.

A colour-blind approach to education has distracted focus from persistent and long-standing educational inequalities. Pupils from a black background are the lowest performing group, and are three times more likely to be excluded from schools. BME teachers and lecturers are under-represented, routinely stereotyped and denied promotion. Meanwhile BME graduates are less likely to get firsts or 2:1s despite often performing better in their GCSEs.


Health

Demand: Close the health inequalities experienced by BME communities, such as outcomes for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and mental health.

Research shows that racial discrimination affects people’s health, including lowered life expectancy and quality of life. The renewed focus on mental health must directly address racial inequalities in access to mental health services. In particular, all people with mental health needs should be supported by trained professionals rather than the police or criminal justice system.