• Monday, November 28, 2022

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UK unveils ‘Inclusive Britain’ action plan to tackle racial disparities

FILE PHOTO: People hold up placards as they take part in the inaugural Million People March march from Notting Hill to Hyde Park in London. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

UK has unveiled an ‘Inclusive Britain’ action plan with changes to policing, health and education to address racial disparities in the country. 

The plan, as a response to the Commission on Race and Ethnic disparities chaired by Tony Sewell, has more than 70 measures including greater scrutiny over the way police use stop and search powers and improvements to how ethnicity data is collected, media reports said. 

Ministers will also drop the term black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME). “Inclusive Britain recommends dropping the term BAME across government, as it is too much of a catch-all, and gathering more fine-grained data to inform future policymaking,” the Guardian reported.

Inclusive Britain has been developed in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 which led to the formation of the Commission. It has made a series of recommendations for reform, grouped under three key themes: building trust, promoting fairness, and creating agency.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts an Equalities Roundtable with Chairman of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, Tony Sewell and Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, in 10 Downing Street on July 21, 2020. (Photo by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street)

The new measures include a new, national framework for police powers, an automatic “opt-in” pilot to help ethnic minorities and others receive legal advice when in police custody, a new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities to improve health for everyone, the BBC reported.

Besides, a diverse panel of historians to develop a new knowledge-rich Model History Curriculum by 2024, exploring Britain’s historical past and guidance to employers on how to measure and address the ethnicity pay gap, the report added.

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch MP said: “This is at the heart of our levelling up agenda. It’s broader and more wide-ranging than any other review we’ve had into race and ethnicity in this country.

“The causes behind racial disparities are complex and often misunderstood.

“Our new strategy is about action, not rhetoric and will help create a country where a person’s race, social or ethnic background is no barrier to achieving their ambitions.”

But, Taiwo Owatemi MP, Labour’s shadow equalities minister, said the report failed to deliver meaningful action, and let down ethnic minority communities.

“The next Labour government will introduce a landmark Race Equality Act to tackle racial inequality at its source and deliver security, prosperity and respect to everyone regardless of their background,” the shadow minister was quoted as saying by the BBC.

The announcement builds on the Levelling Up White Paper published last month which aims to spread opportunities more equally across the country. Inclusive Britain was officially presented to business leaders, charities and public figures in Birmingham, the report further said.

Sunder Katwala, director of the independent thinktank British Future, said: “There is an appetite among the public for action to address racial inequality in Britain. The Sewell report was rightly criticised for being polarising. So we should not get stuck again on arguments about the language on race, for and against so-called ‘wokeism’ and ‘white privilege’. That could mean missing this opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives.

“We need action to tackle online hatred, CV discrimination in recruitment and to increase diversity in the police. Our school curriculum should help students of all backgrounds understand their stake in Britain’s history and how it helped shape the multi-ethnic society we share today.

“The government has set out a plan of action. These look like good foundations but we should now increase the ambition of the policies and what they can achieve,” Katwala added.

When Sewell released the report by the Commission last March, it was met by an avalanche of criticism.

The Sewell report concluded that the “claim the country is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence”. It also downplayed structural racism, the wider political and social disadvantages within society.

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