Departments told there is ‘nowhere to hide’ in tackling racial discrimination

Written by Richard Johnstone and Emilio Casalicchio on 10 October 2017 in News

Prime minister demands 'explain or change' approach in battle to defeat ethnic injustice

Three government departments will take immediate action to tackle racial disparities following the publication of a government audit of the effects of ethnicity in everyday life.

Publishing the data about how people from different backgrounds are treated across a host of public services, prime minister Theresa May said that if the chasms in equality revealed in the review “cannot be explained then they must be changed”.

The government will today launch a website setting out the results of the review, which was commissioned as one of May’s first acts as prime minister, and making immediate plans for departments to tackle the issues revealed.


One finding shows that the unemployment rate for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds is almost double that for white British groups, and May announced that the Department for Work and Pensions will take action in twenty targeted hotspots to improve employment. Measures will include mentoring schemes to help those in ethnic minorities in to work, and traineeships for 16-24 year-olds, offering English, maths and vocational training alongside work placements.

Following the findings of the Lammy Review into the treatment of BAME people in the criminal justice system, which found that while BAME people made up just 14% of the UK population, 25% of prisoners were from BAME backgrounds, the Ministry of Justice is now developing performance indicators to assess the equality of outcomes for prisoners of all ethnicities.

And in schooling, the Department for Education will take forward an external review to improve practice in exclusions. Further announcements of future government work will be made soon.

Setting out the initial findings, May said that "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.”

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Richard Johnstone and Emilio Casalicchio
About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

Emilio Casalicchio reports for, where a version of this story first appeared

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