JUST Yorkshire strongly supports the publication and launch of the Race Disparity Audit website. Whilst the comparable inequality figures may seem to be stark and somewhat of an eye-opener for many decision makers and policy makers at all levels of government, the reality is, the findings confirm what we have known for a long time.
The principle two questions that this audit raises is why these disparities still exist given the volumes of evidence and research that already exists, coupled with more than 40/50 years of equality legislation. The Equality Act 2010 was designed to advance equality of opportunity and tackle discrimination. We must now ask ourselves whether the legislative framework has failed.
Given that most public institutions claim that they pay attention to the needs of minority communities by showing them “due regard” when setting policy and commissioning provision, this audit confirms the complete opposite – and it seems that these institutional exercises are nothing more than a token gesture given the systemic failings experienced by minorities and the working class.
Nadeem Murtuja, Chair of JUST Yorkshire stated:
This audit confirms the embedded structural inequality, institutional racism, and unconscious bias that exists within primarily public sector institutions that have a statutory responsibility to address the causes and inequity in outcomes for minorities and the working class. This audit confirms that when ethnicity and class or social economic deprivation intersects, the inequality and aspiration gap only widens – in effect making divisions on ethnic and class lines more pronounced.
What should be of particular concern is the chasm of opportunity that exists for one racial group and not for others. Unemployment among black, Asian and other ethnic minorities is almost double that of white British adults, and the gap in the north (13.6%) is significantly wider than that in the south (9%).
Our experience at JUST directly correlates with the findings of this disparity audit:
- We have experience of challenging one local authority in South Yorkshire to eventually write a Health Needs Assessment for BAME communities following a 13 year void when compared to the general Mental Health Needs Assessment.
- We have experience of BAME senior managers operating in the public sector having their job applications lost without any explanation despite meeting the short-listing criteria, confirmed through Freedom of Information requests, as a result eventually leaving their employment at the hands of white employers;
- We are yet to see local authorities recognising and clearly articulating the BAME contributions within their strategic economic assessment’s – that continues to render the BAME communities vulnerable when they are repeatedly questioned to prove their citizenship and contribution to the economy and British society;
- We have seen and witnessed communities being ravaged by escalating levels of hate, racism and islamophobia;
- We have continued to witness significant levels of institutional discrimination in the public sector, rendering most top tiers of the public sectors mono-cultural and thus leaving a significant void in terms of role models and contributing significantly to the aspiration deficit.
Add this audit to the new research from the Runnymede Trust that suggests minority ethnic women are being hardest hit by austerity. The report by the Runnymede Trust and Women’s Budget Group claims black and Asian households have faced the biggest drop in living standards, of 19.2% and 20.1% respectively. That amounts to a real-terms average annual loss of £8,407 and £11,678.
If this does not inspire the Prime Minister to act through industrial scale positive action, then the road to racial equality will be fraught with innumerable challenges. This country is at a cross-roads. Still in the midst of Brexit negotiations and trying to address regional disparities through devolution deals, we must put in place safeguards so that minorities and the working class are not left behind as these national and regional plans are realised by and for those at the top.