On Wednesday 17th March, the government released its Inclusive Britain vision as its response to the controversial Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) report of March 2021. The Report, popularly known as the ‘Sewell Report’, was published after intense pressure for the UK to respond to the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in the USA.
Inclusive Britain is part of the government’s Levelling Up (LU) action plan, led by Michael Gove. It sets out a long-term vision to address racial disparity across policing, health and education.
Action for Race Equality, along with various members of the voluntary and community sector, warned of the CRED Report’s missed opportunity last year, and the disappointingly counterproductive messages in the Commission’s rejection of institutional racism.
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.”Jeremy Crook, on the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report
In relation to Inclusive Britain, Action for Race Equality welcomes the emphasis on addressing racial inequality across civil society, and we echo the message of the Response that the Levelling Up programme can only succeed if race equality is integral to every LU policy and programme.
We also believe the government cannot afford for race equality to be an afterthought in its LU plans.
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 government has chosen to produce only ethnicity pay gap guidance for employers.
We do not believe this will change the long-embedded biases and employers’ practices to make our workplaces more equitable. We only expect pay gaps to be exacerbated as workers’ pay lags well behind inflationary rises following the COVID-19 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.
Along with our criminal justice work with EQUAL, we 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, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill remains a real threat to civil liberties and we warn against legislation set to deepen racial inequalities.
The police must be more accountable to their local communities, but resources must be available to enable local Black leaders and groups to engage in these processes.
If you are interested in discussing this news story, please contact Jeremy@actionforraceequality.org.uk