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Exclusive: Theresa May asks 'The Voice' readers for "ideas"

MEETING OF MINDS: 'Voice' News Editor Vic Motune (left) with Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street

PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has pledged to take action to end race inequality in the UK.

May gave an exclusive interview to The Voice at 10 Downing Street following the recent publication of the Race Disparity Audit of public services, which examined how people of different backgrounds are treated across areas including health, education, employment and the criminal justice system. She commissioned the audit after acknowledging that not everyone was treated equally in society and there were too many cases of “burning injustices” arising from people’s race and background.

During the interview the Prime Minister acknowledged the fact that many Voice readers felt that the Race Disparity Audit was just the latest in a long line of reports which only highlighted the discrimination faced by people of black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds but did little to change it.

However, May told The Voice:

“It’s my intention that what makes this report different is you will see action coming out if it. On the day that we launched the audit a number of groups who have been working in the equality area challenged me to act on and rightly so. It is all very well producing this review. But when I say we will work to drive real and meaningful change I mean it.”


TIME FOR CHANGE: Prime Minister Theresa May

The audit, which is published on the Government’s new Ethnicity Facts and Figures website, is based on information collated from Whitehall departments, much of which is in the public domain.

Recent figures from the Equality and Human Rights Commission highlight the nature of the challenge faced by May. They show that:

• Black people are much more likely to be victims of crime and be treated more harshly in the criminal justice system. They are three times more likely to be prosecuted and sentenced than white Britons.

• Race remains the most commonly recorded motivation of hate crime in England and Wales at 82 per cent.

• Despite improving educational attainment, people from BAME communities are still being held back in the job market. Black, Asian and ethnic minority workers with degrees are two-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed than white workers with degrees. Black workers with degrees are paid 23.1 per cent less on average than white workers with degrees.

• Since 2010, there has been a 49 per cent increase in the number of 16 to 24-year-olds across the UK from ethnic minority communities who are long-term unemployed, compared with a fall of two per cent for white Britons. Black workers are also more than twice as likely to be in insecure forms of employment such as temporary contracts or working for an agency – which increased by nearly 40 per cent for Black and Asian workers, compared with a 16 per cent rise for white workers.

ACTION

May said:

“I think what also makes [the audit] different is that for the first time in any country we’ve looked across the whole of the public sector services and said let’s do this audit and let’s see if people are finding that the type of service they’re receiving is different depending on which part of the community they come from, particularly for black and minority ethnic communities.”

Among the specific actions she is aiming to implement is targeted employment support in up to 20 ‘hotspot’ areas with big BAME employment gaps, with a view to getting BAME individuals into work, an external review to improve the practice in our schools on exclusions as well as taking action to implement a number of recommendations from The Lammy Review into the experience of black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system.

She also said that the team in the Cabinet Office, which produced the audit, will not be disbanded but will continue its work in the future, alongside other departments and the wider public sector to drive the meaningful change she wanted to see.

May added:

“It’s not just about the figures, we’re actually going to do something about it. People have said we’ve had reviews before. What they want is a difference to be made and that’s why we’re actually going to do things.”

The Prime Minister said she wanted the involvement of Voice readers in what she is hoping to achieve in tackling discrimination in public services. She said:

“First of all I want people to speak up when they see discrimination and when they feel that they’ve experienced it. That’s important for us. And also come up with ideas. Have a look at the audit, the website is very easy to access and it’s easy to look at the figures. If you’ve got some ideas please let us know.

“So if you’re a teacher in a school for instance and you can see something that might help those pupils who are traditionally in a group who don’t do as well as others, then come forward with those ideas because we’re open to them.”

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