Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Government outlines new plans for achieving race equality in the UK

Government outlines new plans for achieving race equality in the UK

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (035) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 24 February 2009

A wide-reaching consultation on improving opportunities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people was announced today by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears.

A new report demonstrates that the Government has made significant progress in tackling race equality in everything from the job market and health services, to education, housing and criminal justice.

The third and final report on the Government's race equality strategy, Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society shows that further progress depends on recognising that different ethnic groups are experiencing disadvantage in different ways. The Government is consulting on how best to move away from a "one size fits all" approach to targeted help addressing the different needs of particular groups.

The consultation will also take account of the additional challenge posed by the economic downturn. Past evidence shows that Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, as well as disadvantaged White people, are hit harder than others because of the type of job they have or because they live in deprived areas.

Speaking at the Stephen Lawrence Conference in London to mark the tenth anniversary of the Macpherson report, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said:

"Our research shows that the "one size fits all" approach to achieving race equality needs to change. Different ethnic groups are experiencing disadvantage in different ways and are not all in the same position.

"I don't believe there is any one "silver bullet" to solve these problems. If we are to make further progress, especially in light of new challenges such as the downturn, we need to identify what has and hasn't worked.

"It is clear there are some Black, Asian and minority ethnic community organisations doing great work to challenge and overcome disadvantage, for example organisations like the Runnymede Trust and Operation Black Vote. This is why today I'm pleased to confirm that we are making £12 million available to national and regional strategic partners working across a range of public services to tackle disadvantage or barriers to reduce gaps in outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. This includes action to support women, young people and people with disabilities from those communities."

Government is keen to hear a wide range of contributions and ideas - not just from community groups, but businesses, local authorities, and public service providers too because it's vital that we hear voices from around the country. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Cohesion Minister Sadiq Khan and will be taking the debate across the country.

To kick-start the debate a discussion document Tackling Race Equalities, is also being published. It invites views on what the Government's future approach to promoting race equality should be, asking as well as rights, what responsibilities are there for people from all communities in Britain to others and themselves.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears added:

"Equality is not just a minority concern. No-one should feel left out of the debate, because everyone has a role to play in making this country, fairer and stronger.

Equality not only has benefits for individuals but for society and the economy too.

Thanks to Government action, there's been progress. There's also been a change in attitude to even casual racism. For the majority of people in the UK, making racist jokes is no longer seen as acceptable.

The Government wants a new blueprint for race equality. Britain must dismantle barriers and build on the talents of everyone to compete in the global economy, making this country fairer and stronger."

Welcoming the new consultation, Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust said:

"It is crucial that efforts to tackle racism, discrimination and inequality include strong leadership from Government. This consultation gives the opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and to redouble our collective efforts to build a successful multi-ethnic Britain."

Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, added;

"The most effective way to tackle social and racial inequalities is to ensure individuals and community groups drive that agenda both in ideas and delivery. Government's role is to support and facilitate. All this requires a great deal of trust from all sides particularly from central Government. Over the last few years we have been part of two initiatives: REACH, tackling the low attainment of Black boys, and the last Communities and Local Government strategic partner's programme. Both have had elements of great success, precisely because of this unique partnership. If this approach can be built upon and replicated throughout the UK, our shared goals will be achieved sooner rather than later."

Notes to editors

1. The Government introduced the UK's first ever cross-Whitehall race equality strategy Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society. The aim of the three-year strategy was to dismantle barriers in the public and private sector so people can rise as far as their talents can take them.

2. Copies of the report Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society are available on communities.gov.uk

3. £6 million is available for up national and regional, third sector strategic partners across a range of public services. A further £6million will be available after the consultation finishes this May. Funding will be for financial years 2009/10 and 2010/11. Criteria for organisations interested in bidding for funding are available on communities.gov.uk

4. As part of developing a new race equality strategy, Government wants to have a robust and healthy debate with all communities about what the next steps should be. There will be a 12 week consultation asking what practical measures should be taken to address disadvantages experienced by different groups. Further details on the new race equality consultation will be announced shortly.

Did you know that:

* People from Indian backgrounds are more successful in education and employment than the rest of the population.

* In 2005/06, the Pakistani population's rate of entry into higher education by age 19 was higher than that of the White population.

* Black Caribbean pupils have seen greater than average improvements in GCSE. Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 attainment.

* In 2007, Chinese pupils had the highest achievement levels at GCSE (including English and Mathematics).

* Black Caribbean men are still more than three times as likely to be unemployed as White men.

* Women of Pakistan heritage have the highest economic inactivity rates at 65 percent.

* Among women, Black Caribbean women had the second highest employment rate and the third lowest economic inactivity rate.

* Even if they're from better families, boys of Black African and Caribbean heritage, despite their positive attitude to school, do worse than White boys from a similar background.

* Pakistani and Bangladeshi children are still twice as likely to grow up in poverty as White children.

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