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Theresa May launches probe to uncover 'difficult truths' about racial inequality in public services

'We should not be apologetic about shining a light on injustices as never before'

Jon Stone
Friday 26 August 2016 23:59 BST
Theresa May has promised to make the UK 'work for everyone, not just a privileged few'
Theresa May has promised to make the UK 'work for everyone, not just a privileged few' (Reuters)

Theresa May is to launch an official audit of racial inequality in public services which she says will reveal “difficult truths” about disparities in modern Britain.

The results of the investigation will be made public and allow service users to check how race, gender and income affect the provision of hospitals, schools and employment.

The Prime Minister said the audit would help fulfill her central promise of making the country “work for everyone, not just a privileged few”.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Downing Street was keen to stress that it expected the audit to show how white working class people, as well as ethnic minorities, were often left behind in provision.

Labour also launched a consultation to develop the party’s policies on fighting racial discrimination. The scheme is being launched alongside the Race Equality Advisory Group, chaired by Patrick Vernon OBE.

Jeremy Corbyn, who has long campaigned against racism, attacked some in the right-wing media for “sowing division” across the UK.

“In Britain, hate crime is rising. More than half of all young black people are unemployed. Black people are a shocking 37 times more likely to be stop and searched," he said.

"Labour must be a party that fights for black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, and a diverse and united Britain.

“Words matter. We must never pander to elements of the right-wing press, which sow division in our society and demonise Muslim communities. We must stand against antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism, wherever they exist.

“But it also means going further – and addressing the systematic disadvantage that so many people face. To build a society that works for everyone, we will end austerity and invest £500bn in jobs, infrastructure and public services as part of our plan to rebuild and transform Britain.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow minister for equalities, added: “Labour has a proud history of tackling race equality, but recent events and the rise in extremism across Europe has shown that despite the progress which has been made, more work needs to be done.

“This consultation will take the first steps in developing policies which can tackle the structural issues which affect Britain's BAME communities and the new challenges we all face in building a fairer, more equal society.”

The two schemes come on the heels of a warning by the United Nations that British politicians’ “divisive, anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric” during the EU referendum campaign had fuelled a surge in hate crimes.

The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said it was “seriously concerned” that British politicians whipped up hatred and then “failed to condemn” racist abuse during the campaign.

Immediately following the referendum, hate crimes surged by 42 per cent in England and Wales, with a total of 3,076 incidents recorded across the country between 16 and 30 June.

Many areas that voted strongly for Leave also posted even higher results, police figures obtained by The Independent showed.

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