Facing the facts : Ethnicity and Disadvantage in Britain
Foreword by Helen Grant MP
Britain is arguably the most successful multi-ethnic democracy in the world. There are many things to celebrate about the progress of Britain’s ethnic minority groups.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, employment rates were at historic highs for virtually every ethnic minority group; children from some minority groups are performing better than the national average; and the proportion of Black and Asian students securing a higher education place has risen massively over the last decade.
These trends are highly encouraging. However, it is undeniable that there remains some unjustifiable disparities between some of Britain’s ethnic groups. It is also undeniable that collectively as a society, we have not done enough to understand the nuances and complexities of social and economic outcomes for different ethnic groups.
Too often, we have viewed ethnic minorities through the narrow lens of the ‘BAME’ category, grouping their experiences as if there are no meaningful differences between them. This CSJ report provides a compelling reason for why it is time to move past this ‘BAME vs. White’ approach and investigate ethnic disparities in a more sophisticated, granular way.
One of the findings which strike us as particularly concerning is that while many ethnic minority groups, such as African and Indian communities, are now doing better than the national average – and the White British population – other groups are getting left behind. This is the case for Caribbeans, who have some of the poorest outcomes and, unlike virtually any other ethnic group, have a higher proportion of single parent than married parent households.
Britain’s approach to race and ethnicity is changing. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, reportedly the largest in US History, has been a catalyst for re-examining how ethnicity affects life chances. We welcome the government’s establishment of the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission (July 2020) to look into this issue. But more ambitious action is needed.
This report sets out some recommendations that the government can take forward to not only improve the way we understand ethnic disparities, but how we deal with the problems that exist in employment, education, and family stability. They range from establishing ethnicity attainment gap hub schools, refocusing the remit of the Race Disparity Unit to include policy evaluation, and establishing a pathway to increase fatherhood engagement across groups with high levels of family breakdown.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the current recession are likely to exacerbate pre-existing inequalities. If we are to create a fairer society for people of all ethnicities in Britain, it is incumbent upon us to act now to properly understand and address ethnic disparities.
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