Government audit reveals the UK’s ‘uncomfortable’ racial inequality

Prime Minister Theresa May says public bodies have "nowhere to hide" in justifying ongoing disparities

The government released its wide-ranging audit of racial inequality in the UK today, and much of makes for grim reading.

Black, Asian and other minority ethnic people are almost twice as likely to experience unemployment as white people.

Black Caribbean school pupils are three times as likely to be permanently excluded from school as white pupils, while black men are more likely than white men to be found guilty at crown court.

Prime Minister Theresa May warned that all public institutions will have to “explain or change” the ongoing disparities, whether in levels of attainment or lack of opportunities.

These issues are now out in the open

“People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge,” May said, who had warned the research was designed to reveal“uncomfortable truths.”

“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.”

David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, called for “focused action to tackle race inequality.”

Omar Khan, director of the Runnymede Trust think tank, welcomed the new government data, published today on a new government website. Khan said it would mean “less justification or excuses for failing to know about or act on racial inequalities in Britain.”

The Runnymede Trust recently published research conducted with NatCen that showed 44% of people believed some races were “born less hard working” than others.

“Even if people aren’t overtly racist, and even if their preference against certain ethnic groups is so mild as to be unconscious, this can have a wide impact where competition for jobs is tight, or where people have to make quick decisions,” Khan wrote.

Employment rates remained higher for white people than for ethnic minorities across the UK, with a larger gap in the north than in the south (14.7 percentage points compared to 10.2 percentage points).

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid chose to focus on the fact some women in ethnic minorities do not speak English.

“That might be through choice in some cases, it might be a cultural issue,” said the minister. “But that is a big issue because that does then hold those women back from the employment market and other opportunities.”