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10.10.17

Society must ‘explain or change’ disparities amongst ethnicities, says May

The government is to challenge society to “explain or change” inequalities experienced by people from different backgrounds, Theresa May has today stated.

The new ‘Ethnicity Facts and Figures’ website, launched today, will publish the findings of a ground breaking audit of public services, which was ordered shortly after the prime minister took office.

It will contain thousands of statistics, across more than 130 topics including health, education, employment and the criminal justice system.

The resource lays bare the massive under-representation of ethnic minorities at senior levels of the public sector that a number of organisations have voiced over the last few months.

Findings from the audit include higher employment rates amongst white people than those from ethnic minorities, with a lager gap in the north than the south (13.6% compared to 9%).

It also shows that children from of Chinese or Asian ethnicity tend to perform better at primary and secondary school pupils, with black and white pupils doing less well - particularly those eligible for school meals; and

The website will be a permanent resource, with new data being added over time.

A specialist unit run by the Cabinet Office under first secretary, Damian Green, will consider and coordinate the work.

Prime minister Theresa May, will host a discussion around the cabinet table at Downing Street, explaining that the audit will become an “essential resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustice.”

Speaking at today’s roundtable, May will explain the importance of the audit’s findings: “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.”

The prime minister will praise Britain for the improvements in equality and opportunity during her lifetime.

She will add: “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.”

Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, has welcomed the publication of the audit, saying that the findings present a “real opportunity to make transformative change in tackling persistent race inequality.”

He continued: “Yes, some findings make uncomfortable reading, but unless these things are laid bare we can’t begin to resolve them.”

Alongside the publication of the report, the government has launched a programme of work to tackle some of the disparities identified in the audit.

The Department for Work and Pensions will target 20 hotspots, introducing measures such as mentoring schemes to help those from ethnic minorities into work, and offering english, maths, vocational training and work placements to 16 to 24 year-olds.

The Ministry of Justice will implement a number of recommendations made in the recent Lammy Review, including an ‘explain or change’ approach to ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system, and publishing all criminal justice datasets held on ethnicity by default.

It will also develop performance indicators for prisons to assess the equality of outcomes for prisoners of all ethnicities and work towards are more representative prison workforce.

The Department for Education will take forward an external review to improve practice in exclusions, sharing best practice nationwide, and focussing on groups who are disproportionately likely to be excluded.

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