Government must publish race inequalities report, Marsha de Cordova urges

Nadine WhiteThu, 25 March 2021, 5:57 pm

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Labour’s shadow equalities minister has urged the government to publish the Race Commission’s report on racial inequality in the UK immediately, The Independent can reveal.

In a letter sent to prime minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, Marsha De Cordova said “it is essential that this report is made publicly available for the sake of accountability and transparency”.

Established in June following widespread Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death in police custody of George Floyd, the commission was initially due to publish its findings at the end of 2020.

However this was then delayed until the end of February 2021, with the commission citing extenuating challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic – in addition to a high volume of responses by the public.

Mr Johnson is now understood to have received the report’s findings, but a publication date has still yet to be announced.

“Tackling institutional and structural racism in the United Kingdom cannot wait. Publication of the commission’s findings is an essential step to understanding and addressing this crisis,” Ms De Cordova has written to the PM.

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“The impact of structural and institutional racism has been seen during the pandemic with Black and Asian people disproportionately more likely to die from the Covid-19.

According to analysis by the Office for National Statistics last year, Black Britons are almost twice as likely to die from Covid than their white counterparts.

“The unemployment rate for Black Asian and ethnic minority people is now more than double the rate for white people and stands at 9.5 per cent for ethnic minorities and 13.8 for Black people. Just yesterday, it was reported that Black Caribbean children in some parts of the UK are five times more likely to be excluded from school than white children.”

Decades of structural discrimination have contributed to the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, the Labour Party’s Lawrence Review established in October.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence identified structural inequalities within government, health, employment and the education system that Covid-19 “thrived on” as the outbreak took hold.

And just weeks after that, an inquiry by the government’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights found in November that Black people in the UK were in “no doubt” the protection of their rights was “inferior” to those of white people.

Westminister, NHS and police must “take action to end the stark inequalities in the protection of human rights of the black community”, the committee advised.

The Race Commission is led by former charity boss Tony Sewell, a former colleague of Mr Johnson from his London mayoral tenure, who previously described evidence of institutional racism in the UK as “flimsy”.

At the time of the commission’s formation, the PM said he wanted it to help “change the narrative,” to highlight success stories and to “stop a sense of victimisation and discrimination”. The body is expected to have examined areas including criminal justice, health and education.

The Independent has approached Downing Street for comment.

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