Consultation launched on how to achieve race equality in UK

Blears: “Equality not only has benefits for individuals but for society and the economy too” 26th February 2009: The Government has launched a wide-reaching consultation on how to improve opportunities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.

A new report demonstrates that the Government has made significant progress in tackling race equality in everything from the job market and health services, to education, housing and criminal justice.

The third and final report on the Government’s race equality strategy, Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society shows that further progress depends on recognising that different ethnic groups are experiencing disadvantage in different ways.

The Government is consulting on how best to move away from a "one size fits all" approach to targeted help addressing the different needs of particular groups.

The consultation will also take account of the additional challenge posed by the economic downturn. Past evidence shows that Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, as well as disadvantaged White people, are hit harder than others because of the type of job they have or because they live in deprived areas.

Speaking at the Stephen Lawrence Conference in London to mark the tenth anniversary of the Macpherson report, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said: "Our research shows that the "one size fits all" approach to achieving race equality needs to change. Different ethnic groups are experiencing disadvantage in different ways and are not all in the same position. I don’t believe there is any one "silver bullet" to solve these problems. If we are to make further progress, especially in light of new challenges such as the downturn, we need to identify what has and hasn’t worked.”

Ms. Blears recognised the important role played by some Black, Asian and minority ethnic community organisations such as the Runnymede Trust and Operation Black Vote to challenge and overcome disadvantage.

She also confirmed that the Government has set availed £12 million to national and regional strategic partners working across a range of public services to tackle disadvantage or barriers to reduce gaps in outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. This includes action to support women, young people and people with disabilities from those communities.

Communities Secretary Blears added: "Equality is not just a minority concern. No-one should feel left out of the debate, because everyone has a role to play in making this country, fairer and stronger. Equality not only has benefits for individuals but for society and the economy too.

“Thanks to Government action, there’s been progress. There’s also been a change in attitude to even casual racism. For the majority of people in the UK, making racist jokes is no longer seen as acceptable.

The Government wants a new blueprint for race equality. Britain must dismantle barriers and build on the talents of everyone to compete in the global economy, making this country fairer and stronger."

Welcoming the new consultation, Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust said: "It is crucial that efforts to tackle racism, discrimination and inequality include strong leadership from Government. This consultation gives the opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and to redouble our collective efforts to build a successful multi-ethnic Britain."

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