Race review reveals gaping inequality in the UK

Government will have to explain or try to change inequalities revealed by report on race, PM Theresa May says.

Theresa May held a meeting Tuesday at 10 Downing Street to discuss the findings of the race review [Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP]

Black and ethnic minority (BME) individuals are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as white British adults, a government-backed review of racial issues in the UK has revealed.

The audit, published Tuesday by the government’s “Ethnicity Facts and Figures” website, also shows that police are three times more likely to stop and search non-white Britons.

Black and Arab Britons are more than 40 percent less likely to own their own home, compared with white Britons, the report said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May had ordered the review.

“If these disparities cannot be explained then they must be changed,” May said following the report, calling on government and the UK’s institutions.

“People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge,” she added. “But this audit means that for society as a whole – for government, for our public services – there is nowhere to hide.”

The audit covers areas including health, education, employment, and crime.

The Department for Work and Pensions is expected to set up some 20 “hotspot” areas to help ethnic minority individuals find employment.

The Ministry of Justice, meanwhile, says it will attempt to ensure prisoners of all ethnicities are treated appropriately.

‘Could have been done earlier’

Rehman Chishti, Conservative Party MP for Gillingham and Rainham, called the review a “step in the right direction”, but admitted “it could have been done a lot earlier in the seven years since we have been in government”.

“[Now] I want the government to look at finding bottom up solutions, to engage with diverse communities across the country and work with them to get the best answer in addressing the challenges they face,” he told Al Jazeera from London.

Chisthi is one of 52 ethnic minority MPs who account for just eight percent of the UK’s parliament.

In the UK as a whole, BME Britons make up about 13 percent of the population, according to the last official census in 2011.

The government’s report on Tuesday follows research released on October 8 suggesting that higher levels of education among certain ethnic minority groups has not led to more employment or higher salaries.

The UK’s Resolution Foundation, a non-partisan think-tank, said the number Britons of Chinese, Indian and Black African heritage – aged between 16 and 64 years old – with a degree has more than doubled since 1999, but employment rates and income have not reflected that change.

Kathleen Henehan, a policy analyst for the think-tank, said Tuesday’s findings have again shown the extent of economic inequality affecting BME groups in the UK.

“BME families are disproportionately represented in poorer households, despite experiencing relatively strong income growth over recent decades,” she told Al Jazeera.

“Despite astounding progress in terms of getting degrees, BME graduates still face a jobs gap and pay penalty when they enter the workforce.”

Following the release of Tuesday’s report, social media users shared their views.

Actress Kelechi Okafor wrote on Twitter: “The extent of racism in Britain is only ‘Shocking’ to those who haven’t been paying attention.”

Seema Chandwani, supporter of the opposition Labour Party, wrote: “#RaceAudit is a collection of *existing* data from public bodies. The evidence has existed for a long time & required action a long time ago.”

Twitter user Funmi Adebayo said: “The #raceaudit sadly only looks into the public sector. I imagine the racial disparities are much worse within the private sector.”

Source: Al Jazeera