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Theresa May vows to tackle racism after report reveals shocking extent of discrimination in UK

PM commissioned review into how race affects life chances of people living in Britain shortly after entering Downing Street

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 10 October 2017 11:12 BST
Theresa May to tackle racism in UK

Theresa May will admit Britain has a long way to go to achieve racial equality after a major review laid bare significant divisions in the way black and ethnic minority people are treated.

The Prime Minister will also warn business leaders, government, police and other institutions that they have "nowhere to hide" and must ensure that race is never a barrier to people achieving their goals.

The data, published on Tuesday, will offer an unprecedented insight into how people from different backgrounds face a postcode lottery of outcomes, as the unemployment rate for ethnic minorities is nearly double that of white British adults, with a larger gap in the North of 13.6 per cent, compared to 9 per cent in the South.

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Other findings Ms May will highlight include wide gaps over home ownership as white people, Indians and Pakistanis are more likely to own their own home than Bangladeshis and black people.

Launching the report, the Prime Minister will say: “People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge.

“But this audit means that for society as a whole – for government, for our public services – there is nowhere to hide.

“These issues are now out in the open. And the message is very simple: if these disparities cannot be explained then they must be changed.

“Britain has come a long way in my lifetime in spreading equality and opportunity.

“But the data we are publishing today will provide the definitive evidence of how far we must still go in order to truly build a country that works for everyone.”

Following the report, which Ms May commissioned last year, ministers will target 20 "hotspots" where ethnic minority people are more likely to be unemployed, which could include mentoring, traineeships, and offering English, maths and vocational training alongside work placements.

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The Ministry of Justice will adopt recommendations from the recent Lammy Review, chaired by David Lammy MP, including performance indicators for prisons to assess how prisoners of different races are treated, while encouraging recruitment of ethnic minority staff.

An external review will also be brought in to improve exclusion policy, with a focus on ethnic groups disproportionately likely to be suspended or expelled.

Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, said: “The findings from the Race Disparity Audit presents us with a real opportunity to make transformative change in tackling persistent race inequality.

"Yes, some findings make uncomfortable reading, but unless these things are laid bare we can’t begin to resolve them.

"Over many years the Prime Minister has shown a real desire to grapple with the scourge of racism including confronting high levels of BAME Stop and Search, BAME deaths in police custody and now this."

Stand Up To Racism protest in Croydon

Omar Khan, director of The Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank, said: "No one can be in any doubt that racial inequalities is a major issue that requires real effort to fix, not just from government but also action by employers, schools, and individuals.

"We have had decades of reports into the problem – many from the Runnymede Trust. The time for talking is now over, we must now move to debating solutions."

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