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‘I back Black History Month,’ says David Cameron

BRITISH PRIME Minister David Cameron has said he is backing Black History Month (BHM) despite cuts to the funding of key events being held to mark the month.

In a letter, released today (Oct 1), the start of Black History Month, the Prime Minister said the month not only celebrates the lives of many black and ethnic minority people but has also reminded the county of the “great contribution they have made to our society.”

He said the month also revealed the vital role black and ethnic minority people play in shaping society.

“It is also a rallying cry for the future. We will only create a thriving society if we champion what makes us great. I want to continue to celebrate our diversity and tolerance, judging people by their contribution while recognising the rich tapestry of our history. That is why I am supporting Black History Month,” Cameron said.

But the Prime Minister’s comments come as a Voice investigation showed that some councils have stopped supporting BHM activities, others have swapped BHM for diversity days while more councils have drastically cut funding for it.

For example, Bromley Council in south London got rid of one of the most important dates in the black community’s cultural calendar and decided to introduce a Diversity Day instead.

John Bownas, spokesperson for Conservative controlled Croydon Council also confirmed it will not be holding Black History Month this year because of the financial crisis facing the whole country. Last year, it spent £11,000.

And Barnet, Haringey, Lewisham and Southwark Councils are among those who are either scaling down or planning to scrap the event because of tough financial constraints.

In addition, a Barnet council employee who did not want to be named told The Voice the council “doesn’t promote black history and has not done so for several years.”

Asked whether the black community should take the Prime Minister’s support seriously given that council cuts are linked to the coalition government’s spending cuts regime, a Downing Street spokesperson later told The Voice:

“We are giving councils control over the purse strings and they should to be talking to residents to find out their priorities.

“It is for councils to decide how to manage their own budgets; however we are clear that they must make efficiencies and back office savings before they begin to cut frontline services.

“The Government's first priority had to be to reduce the public deficit. Local Government makes up a quarter of all public expenditure so it is right that they play their part.”

The government has also promised to continue to monitor the effects of the Spending Review on equality groups as policy decisions are developed and implemented.

See the Prime Minister’s full letter for Black History month outlined below

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