The government is to create a new team in the Cabinet Office that will be tasked with presenting ministers with more evidence-based policy on how to tackle societal injustices on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
Outgoing prime minister Theresa May said that the new Office for Tackling Injustices would hold the government and wider society to account for tackling social injustices.
The unit will build on the approach of the Race Disparity Audit, which has used data to analyse how a person’s ethnicity affects their experiences of public services. Sitting alongside the Race Disparity Unit in the Cabinet Office equalities hub being formed from November, the OfTI will use data and analysis to find out what the barriers are for specific groups and gather data that is currently unreliable or simply not available.
The unit is the latest in a series of moves announced by May ahead of her departure to boost government action on equalities. The hub in the Cabinet Office will include an expanded Office for Disability Issues and the Government Equalities Office as well as the Race Disparity Unit.
May said that “deep-seated societal injustice requires a long-term focus and cannot be eliminated overnight”, adding that she had “challenged the injustices which still exist in our society through the power of data – from our world-leading gender pay gap reporting to the Race Disparity Unit – and I have demanded that if disparities cannot be explained, they must be changed”.
“[The] Office for Tackling Injustices will go further, using the power of data, gathered from extensive sources, to shine a spotlight on key injustices and provide the catalyst for better policy solutions. By holding government and wider society to account, we can create lasting change.”
In a written statement confirming the details of the unit, women and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt said that as well as delivering an annual data-driven report on progress to parliament, the OfTI will also publish thematic studies. It will make use of relevant published data from various public authorities, monitoring trends and considering their underlying causes and drivers.
The Race Disparity Unit won the Chris Martin Policy Award at the 2018 Civil Service Awards, with di-rector Marcus Bell telling CSW there were lessons about the RDU’s approach that the wider civil service can learn
He put the team’s success down to its multidisciplinary nature, with a mixture of technical people (such as statisticians and developers), and policy people working together, and highlighted how much data is available but not being utilised effectively by departments. “There’s quite a lot of untapped potential there,” he added. “We’ve made use of their data to explain where we are as a country with ethnicity but there’s plenty more to be done.”