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Racism is Rife and Life Has Gone Worse for Black Britons, Warns a New Report

By Shola Adenekan

Friday, August 19, 2016.

Racism is holding Black Britons back and the British government is failing to tackle deep-rooted racism, which is leading to more division and upheavals, the new Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has warned.

The Commission has just  published the biggest ever study of race equality in Britain across every aspect of people’s lives, including education, employment, housing, pay and living standards, health, criminal justice and participation. The result reveals that while for White people life has become fairer over the past five years, for others progress has stalled and for some– in particular young Black people – life on many fronts has got worse.

For example, Black British workers with degrees earn 23.1 percent less on average than White workers with degrees and Black Britons who leave school with A-levels typically get paid 14.3 percent less than their White peers.

The report also shows that  significantly lower percentages of ethnic minorities (8.8%) worked as managers, directors and senior officials, compared with White people (10.7%). This was particularly true for African/Caribbean/Black people (5.7%) and those of Mixed ethnicity (7.2%).

Only  6 percent of Black school leavers attended a Russell Group university, compared with 11 percent of White school leavers. Black British children have rates of permanent exclusion about three times that of the pupil population as a whole. Rates of prosecution and sentencing for Black people were three times higher than for White people –18 per thousand population compared with six per thousand population for White people. For sentencing it was 13 per thousand population for Black people and five per thousand population for White people. In England and Wales, ethnic minority children and adults are more likely to be a victim of homicide. The homicide rate for Black people was 30.5 per million population, 14.1 for Asian people and 8.9 for White people.

Chair David Isaac said the report reveals a “very worrying combination’ of a post-Brexit rise in hate crime and long-term systemic unfairness and race inequality”.

Mr Isaac also said that the new Prime Minister Theresa May’s statements are ‘very encouraging’ but previous efforts to address race inequality have been ‘piecemeal and stuttering’ with ‘more one nation platitudes than policies’.

Mr Isaac therefore called for a comprehensive new race strategy from Government, the development of stretching new targets to reduce race inequality including in criminal justice, education and employment, as well as better research and reporting to monitor progress. Further revelations in the study include:

  •     Black people are much more likely to be victims of crime and be treated more harshly in the criminal justice system. You are more than twice as likely to be murdered if you are Black in England and Wales and three times more likely to be prosecuted and sentenced than if you are White. In addition to this, race remains the most commonly recorded motivation of hate crime in England and Wales at 82%.   

  • There is a significant disproportionate number of ethnic minorities detained under mental health legislation in hospitals in England and Wales – Black African women were seven times more likely to be detained than White British women.

  • Black African women had a mortality rate four times higher than White women in the UK.

  • If you are young and from an ethnic minority, your life chances have got much worse over the past five years and are at the most challenging for generations. Since 2010, there has been a 49% 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 2% if you are White. 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% for Black and Asian workers, compared with a 16% rise for White workers.


  • When it comes to who runs Britain, overall ethnic minorities are still hugely underrepresented in positions of power – 14% of the UK population is from an ethnic minority background, but out of the 2,686 judges who declared their ethnicity in England and Wales, only 159 (5.9%) were from an ethnic minority. In addition to this, ethnic minority police officers made up only 5.5% of all officers in England and Wales and there are no ethnic minority Chief Constables.

There is progress in some areas. For example, the 2015 General Election saw an increase in the proportion of ethnic minority MPs from 4.2% to 6.3%, and since 2008, all ethnic groups have seen an increase in the proportion with a degree-level qualification. For Indian people it was (18.1 percentage points) to 49.5%, for African/Caribbean/Black it was (9.6pp) to (34.7%) and for Pakistani/Bangladeshi it was (9.7pp) to 27.6%.

However, this is not nearly enough progress and much more still needs to be done. This new report makes recommendations to the UK Government including:

  • the need for a comprehensive, coordinated and long-term UK Government strategy with clear and measurable outcomes to achieve race equality


  • that the strategy should be developed and delivered between the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, and should come under the responsibility of one secretary of state, with clear accountability across Government, and


  • that all Governments should improve their ethnicity data and ensure it covers a range of research, statistics and ethnic groups to inform their race equality strategies.

Mr Isaac said that the combination of the post-Brexit rise in hate crime and deep race inequality in Britain is very worrying and must be tackled urgently.

“Today's report underlines just how entrenched race inequality and unfairness still is in our society,” he said. ““We must redouble our efforts to tackle race inequality urgently or risk the divisions in our society growing and racial tensions increasing.”

He said if you are Black or an ethnic minority in modern Britain, it can often still feel like you’re living in a different world, never mind being part of a one nation society.

“It is very encouraging to hear the new Prime Minister's commitment to tackling inequality,” he said. “In order to achieve this it is vital that the Government puts in place a comprehensive and coherent race strategy that tackles these pressing issues and prevents some communities being cut even further adrift from equality of opportunity.”

Racism is Rife And Life Has Gone Worse for Black Britons, Warns a New Report

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