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UK Must Act Against Race Inequality, Theresa May Says

Theresa May met pupils in south London ahead of the launch of a website collating government data
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Theresa May is to challenge public services over how they treat people of different races.

The prime minister says institutions must “explain or change” any variations when data is released later on Tuesday.

It is expected to show unemployment for black, Asian and minority ethnic people at nearly double that of white British adults, and disparity in who owns their own home.

Critics say it is a “crude” approach that risks making a grievance culture.

The prime minister will launch a website later containing the data, compiled from across the UK government.

The government says the figures released at 12:30 BST will suggest:

  • Black Caribbean pupils were being permanently excluded from school three times as often as White British pupils
  • At key stage two, 71% of Chinese primary school pupils met the expected standard for reading, writing and maths, compared with 54% of White British pupils and 13% of White Gypsy and Roma pupils
  • White British pupils on free school meals performed the worst in the second stage of primary school (key stage 2) with 32% reaching the expected level
  • Unemployment among black, Asian and other ethnic minorities is almost double that of white British adults
  • Those more likely to own their own home are Indian, Pakistani and white people compared with black people and those from Bangladesh

“People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge,” Mrs May will say.

“But this audit means that for society as a whole – for government, for our public services – there is nowhere to hide.”

Students at Dunraven School in south London listened as Theresa May explained the auditStudents at Dunraven School in south London listened as Theresa May explained the audit

Almost all the data released on the website ‘Ethnicity Facts and Figures’ is already publicly available and no new data was commissioned for the audit.

The site aims to be user-friendly, highlighting disparities between ethnic groups, some by age or gender, location or income, BBC home editor Mark Easton said.

But it will not attempt to explain why these differences exist.

‘Grievance culture’ risk

But critics from ethnic minority backgrounds, including former deputy London mayor Munira Mirza, in a letter to The Times, said the “crude and tendentious” approach of comparing the data in the website risked “promoting a grievance culture and policies that harm the communities they aspire to help”.

They said prejudice had declined “markedly” and while injustice must be challenged, there were often many underlying factors to explain differences.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid denied the data would drive a grievance culture but said it would help identify disparities.

“There are hundreds of thousands of British Pakistani women and Bangladeshi women who don’t speak proper English, who don’t speak English at all,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That might be through choice in some cases, it might be a cultural issue. But that is a big issue because that does then hold those women back from the employment market and other opportunities”, he said.

David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the data must be used to set the foundations for change and address “entrenched inequality”.

Help ‘hotspots’

Although the audit will not focus on government policies, Mrs May will launch a number of measures to combat the differences discovered.

They include Department for Work and Pensions “hotspots” to help people from ethnic minorities get jobs, and traineeships for 16-24 year-olds.


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