Cabinet Office equality drive inspires council initiatives

Authorities look to Whitehall’s ground-breaking Race Disparity Audit to understand and improve local issues 


By Jim.Dunton

18 Oct 2019

The Cabinet Office's Race Disparity Audit team

One of Britain’s biggest cities has implemented a local version of a ground-breaking Cabinet Office project to better understand its race inequality issues and drive improvement – with others set to follow suit.

Bristol City Council has become the first authority in the country to create its own version of the Race Disparity Audit, first undertaken by the Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit two years ago, and Liverpool City Council has pledged to do the same.

Sir Simon Woolley, the chair of the Race Disparity Unit’s advisory group and Operation Black Vote director, said that the Whitehall audit – implemented in the first months of Theresa May’s term in office as prime minster – had helped to evidence the stark inequalities “people of colour and class” often experienced. 


He said he was delighted that both Bristol was employing the framework and Liverpool was set to do so – and that interest was also coming from Nottingham, Southampton, and the London borough of Lewisham. 

Woolley said that the way the RDA brought together government data and analysed it across 176 topics, such as education, healthcare, housing, criminal justice, the economy and infrastructure was a “game changer” for driving change.

“Together we use the audit’s findings to highlight some worrying issues across a range of sectors and geographical regions,” he said.

“Through the data we give a voice to communities who didn’t have one previously, and challenge – at national and local level – government, the public and the private sectors to act on the persistent inequalities that are being suffered.”

Woolley said that work on school exclusions and the pioneering Race at Work charter were two examples of work to challenge inequalitie as a direct result of the RDA. He noted that while government departments had put the data to good use, the audit had even greater potential for local authorities. 

"Local leaders have so much more power and ability to control, deliver and change things for the better,” he said.

"Bristol is one of them. Under the leadership mayor Marvin Rees and his brilliant deputy Asher Craig, an audit has been developed to improve workforce diversity in Bristol’s public services and private businesses.”

Rees said the city’s version of the RDA was able to highlight the “significant inequalities” that ethnic minority communities continue to face, which restricted education and employment opportunities.

“Tackling this is not only the moral thing to do but it makes good economic sense too,” he said. “Unlocking the city’s full potential would bring countless benefits to all, but it can only be done by working together, across sectors, and at all levels.”

Woolley and Rees were speaking at a race equality conference marking Black History Month and the British Civil Rights movement. Wooley's speech can be read here

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