Tackling racial disparities: Prime Minister’s promise to UK’s diverse communities
Prime Minister Theresa May has this week launched an unprecedented audit of public services in an attempt to reveal racial disparities and help end the injustices many people experience across Britain.
The Prime Minister has ordered Whitehall departments to identify and publish information showing how outcomes differ for people of different backgrounds, in a range of areas including health, education and employment.
Not only will it give every person the ability to check how their race affects the way they are treated by public services, the transparent information will also help government and the public to force poor-performing services to improve.
Ms May said: “When I stood on the steps of Downing Street on my first day, I made clear that I believe in a United Kingdom by every definition – and that means the government I lead will stand up for you and your family against injustice and inequality.
“Today, I am launching an audit to look into racial disparities in our public services that stretches right across government. It will highlight the differences in outcomes for people of different backgrounds, in every area from health to education, childcare to welfare, employment, skills and criminal justice.
“This audit will reveal difficult truths, but we should not be apologetic about shining a light on injustices as never before. It is only by doing so we can make this country work for everyone, not just a privileged few.”
Latest figures from the Equality and Human Rights Commission show large disparities between how people are treated depending on their race.
Amongst the trends discovered were that if you are from a Black Caribbean background, you are three times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than your peers, and if you are a black woman, you are seven times more likely to be detained under mental health legislation than a white woman.
Likewise, the employment rate for ethnic minorities is 10 percentage points lower than the national average whilst people in ethnic minority households are almost twice as likely to live in relative poverty as white people.
The audit will also help understand where there are geographical inequalities in services that affect people of some races more than others, such as the white working class who tend to live in coastal towns or black and minority ethnic (BME) communities who tend to live in inner cities.
As Home Secretary, the Prime Minister published stop and search data that revealed people from black and ethnic minority communities were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts. The publication helped hold forces to account and the ratio has now reduced to four times more likely, with the aim for a continued fall.
The audit will be led by a new dedicated Whitehall unit situated in the Cabinet Office, reporting jointly to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, and the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Ben Gummer.
The first data is expected to be published before the summer 2017 and will be updated annually to ensure the public can track improvement and better hold services to account.