Report reveals a lack of progress in reducing ethnic and racial inequality

A new report, written in partnership with Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity, suggests there has been a lack of progress towards recommendations made by previous race and inequality reports and commissions.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020, the Prime Minister announced an inquiry. The cross-governmental ‘Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’, would look into discrimination against black, Asian and minority ethnic people in education, health and criminal justice. Over the past 40 years, numerous other inquiries have looked at racial inequalities across British society.

This new review, written by Stephen D. Ashe for the Stuart Hall Foundation in partnership with Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE), with additional support from Hollick Family Foundation, summarises the findings of these previous inquiries. The aim, in setting out the story so far, is to ensure that any new inquiry does not simply go over old ground; but builds on what went before.

Key points

  • The review reveals 589 different recommendations made by 13 previous race and inequality reports and commissions between 1981 and 2017.
  • Concerns about the impact of an “inappropriate” schools curriculum on the performance of black (West Indian) pupils date back to 1981.
  • After several decades of initiatives, inequalities persist across all areas of life: health, education, housing, employment, poverty, crime and justice.
  • Racial disparities in some areas are growing: for example, the disproportionate representation of ethnic minority people in the youth justice system has increased; from 26% of 15-17s in 2008, to 43% in 2018.
  • Many recommendations with regard to data-led and evidence-based approaches to decision-making, and the need for new accountability mechanisms, have yet to be taken up.
  • Concerns around the under-representation of black, Asian and ethnic minority people in senior leadership roles are a key theme.

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, also responded, saying:

“This report is an invaluable contribution to the struggle for racial justice. Its brilliance is found in its simplicity, documenting the countless recommendations on race between 1981 and 2017 that have been kicked into the long grass. It is a sad reminder that, for too long, empty words have been uttered to absorb our energy, in the hope that we will sit down and forget about the burning injustices these recommendations are meant to eliminate. This report is a reminder that we’ve had the conversation. Now is the time for action.”

Read the SHF Race Report on the Stuart Hall Foundation website.

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