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Posted by rebecca 25 September 2013 : BME , Labour , financial inclusion , racism , Runnymede , employment ,

In preparation for launch of its new campaign, ‘End Racism This Generation’, Runnymede commissioned a large-scale qualitative attitudinal survey from Ethnic Focus.

The results showed widespread fear among ethnic minorities that discrimination because of their race or religion would affect their chances in education and employment.

Posted by Vicki 30 March 2012 : financial inclusion ,

Today’s blog post is written by Phil Mawhinney, a policy and research analyst at Runnymede

The government confirmed in its budget last week that it is taking forward plans for a single-tier state pension. Set at around £140 per week, it will provide a higher level of income and provide a simpler basis on which to save. We know that the number of Black and minority ethnic (BME) pensioners is rapidly growing and that some leave the UK at retirement. What about them?

Runnymede’s recent research shows that many British pensioners living overseas receive UK state pensions that are frozen in value, rather than up-rated with inflation every year, as they are in the UK. This ‘freezing’ happens in 120 countries worldwide, including the vast majority outside Europe. We have argued that this is unfair – people lose up to £24,000 of income over 20 years – and we believe that the government should up-rate all overseas pensions, in every country.

In response to a recent parliamentary question recently tabled by Lib Dem peer Lord Jones, government figures highlighted that there are over 550,000 people living overseas receiving frozen pensions. This is out of a global total of 12 million British pensioners, 1.2 million of whom live outside Britain. So, 1 in 20 British pensioners worldwide receive a frozen pension, including nearly half of all pensioners living overseas.

Posted by Vicki 26 January 2012 : Lib Dem , financial inclusion ,

Today's blog post is written by Runnymede's head of policy, Omar Khan

There’s been a lot of coverage today of Nick Clegg’s focus on raising the personal threshold of income tax. Given that black and minority ethnic people are disproroprtionately likely to be living in poverty we thought it would be worth considering how this proposed change promotes fairness. While questions remain regarding how the Government can pay for this measure, the wider question of how the tax and benefits system promotes (or undermines) fairness is less well understood. In part this is due to the technical (i.e. boring!) nature of the discussion, though each of the three parties may also have political reasons not to explain the tax and benefits system better.

Put simply, the payment of benefits does much more work in promoting fairness in the UK than the collection of taxes. For example, 49% of the income of the lowest quintile in the UK derives from cash benefits, compared to only 2% for the upper quintile. Overall, benefits are by far the major source of improving fairness in the UK.

Direct taxation generally is somewhat progressive, and in the case of income tax (the target of the government’s proposed policy change), the poorest fifth only pay 3.1% of their income in direct tax, compared to 17.4% for the richest fifth. This suggests that income tax is much less unfair that Nick Clegg’s speech implies.

Posted by Vicki 25 January 2012 : financial inclusion , older people ,

Today's blog post is written by Phil Mawhinney, Runnymede research and policy analyst

Nearly 4.5 million people over 60 years old, or one in three, can only afford the basics in life, according to a new report by Age UK. The research shows how pensioners maximise every single penny, and the sacrifices they make to get by. This includes living in just one room and going to bed early in order to keep warm and save on energy bills.

Over the last few years, Runnymede has been researching the experiences of older Black and minority ethnic (BME) people. We know that they are more likely to live in pensioner poverty. While one in six white pensioners live in poverty, this rises to nearly half of Bangladeshi and Pakistani pensioners and one in every four Black Caribbeans.

I attended the launch of the Age UK report, which received some press attention, and I have two observations to share.

Posted by Vicki 08 August 2011 : BME , financial inclusion , criminal justice ,

Today's blog post is written by our director, Dr Rob Berkeley

The scenes beamed around the world of Tottenham in flames are a tragedy. A tragedy for the already vulnerable people of Tottenham whose lives and livelihoods have been put at unnecessary risk, a tragedy for a city that had begun to imagine itself as an exemplar of good relations between people from different backgrounds, but also a tragedy for our politics that creates the situation in which street disturbances of this kind can happen.

The image of the hooded youth aiming a missile at police lines against a backdrop of burning vehicles is too reminiscent of the riots of thirty years ago to be ignored. We may have told ourselves that those days could never return, but we have simply failed to examine the evidence. There is no excuse for rioting, but it is crucial that we understand the context in which it happens.

In 1981 we could look at the disenfranchisement and despair among large sections of London youth. In education there was a 20 point-gap in achievement between Black and White youth. In Haringey schools this year that gap had increased to one of 35 points.

In 1981 we could highlight the levels of youth unemployment - which reached as high as 45%. Currently 20% of White young people are unemployed, 40% of Pakistani youth and half of all Black youth.

In 1981 we noted poor relationships between the police and young people with the now infamous 'sus' laws. Reports earlier this year highlighted that Black men were 8 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white men. Under some powers such as Section 60 this rises to 26 times more likely. Effective policing would clearly be welcomed by a community such as that in Tottenham where people are much more likely to be victims of crime. Effective policing is based on trust and consent, rather than antagonism and suspicion.

Posted by Vicki 25 March 2011 : financial inclusion ,

Today's blog post is written by Runnymede's research and policy analyst Phil Mawhinney

Wednesday’s annual government Budget has to be understood in light of the more severe changes detailed in last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review. While we welcome some of the measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne, we fear that they will fail to reduce the longstanding disadvantage, lack of opportunity and poverty that many Black and minority ethnic (BME) people experience.

One key announcement was the £630 rise in the personal tax allowance from April 2012. Added to the £1000 rise due to come into force next month, this means that the first £8,015 people earn will be tax-free. This led to claims by the government that it has lifted 1.1 million low paid people out of income tax.

We know that BME people are more likely to experience income poverty. On the face of it, it seems like this measure will help those on low incomes. However, it will not provide any help to people whose income is so low that they don’t pay any tax. Also, if we step back and look at the previously-announced cuts to tax credits and benefits such as Housing Benefit, the effect appears much diluted. Indeed, the Institute for Fiscal Studies argues that changes to tax credits would be a more efficient way of helping poorer households.

Posted by admin 07 January 2011 : BME , financial inclusion , Runnymede , human rights ,

Download my speech to the Human Rights Council's Forum on Minority Issues in full by clicking on the pink link below.

Posted by admin 23 December 2010 : financial inclusion , Runnymede , human rights ,

Click the pink link below to read the draft recommendations from the Human Rights Council's Forum on Minority Issues, which come as an output of the conference.

Draft recommendations on minorities and effective participation in economic life

There is likely to be further focus on access to finance in the final recommendations, as I and a few other contributors in Geneva raised in our presentations.

Posted by Vicki 21 December 2010 : Labour , financial inclusion ,

Today's blog post is written by our public affairs intern Ashley Burton-Lynch

Lord Parekh has criticised the government for failing to consider the disproportionately negative impact the spending cuts will have on ethnic minorities. Speaking in a House of Lords debate on the impact of the cuts, he voiced his concern that the spending cuts will result in ethnic minorities suffering the most from job losses in local government and the NHS, as well as Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) third sector organisations feeling the greatest strain from grant cuts.

The Labour peer lambasted the Home Secretary for failing to carry out an equality audit in relation to the impact of the cuts on ethnic minorities despite her admission that “the cuts will affect women, (and) ethnic minorities…disproportionately”.

Drawing on work undertaken by professors from Oxford University and Bristol, Lord Parekh highlighted the fact that as ethnic minorities are not only disproportionately represented in the public sector but also less likely to be in “senior positions”, they are the most vulnerable from resultant job losses. In voicing the estimation that job losses in local government will number around 100,000, Lord Parekh made the case that ethnic minorities stand to be highly affected.

Posted by admin 15 December 2010 : financial inclusion , racism , Runnymede ,

Today I presented at the UN Forum on Minority Issues, organised by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. My presentation was titled 'Financial Inclusion, Ethnicity and Policy Action', and was based on Runnymede's ongoing financial inclusion programme
I explained why financial inclusion is crucial for the participation of ethnic minorities in social and economic life, but also why we need a more expansive conception of financial inclusion to make ethnic minority participation a reality. Financial institutions are unlikely to offer products...

Posted by Vicki 09 December 2010 : Labour , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

Labour peer Lord McKenzie pressed the government to respond to Runnymede’s argument that black and minority ethnic people will be significantly affected by cuts to savings policies.

Runnymede’s research was quoted in the remaining House of Lords stages of the Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill. This Bill effectively scraps both the Child Trust Fund and Saving Gateway schemes, both of which enable those on low incomes to build savings. Runnymede submitted a response to the bill at an earlier stage of its passage through parliament.

Posted by Vicki 03 November 2010 : Labour , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

Labour MP Kate Green drew attention to Runnymede research into savings in a parliamentary debate last week. Speaking in a debate on the Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill – which repeals the Savings Gateway Accounts Act 2009 -Green called the government’s equality impact assessment of the bill “thin in the extreme”, adding that Runnymede research shows that “at least 60% of Asian and black British families have no savings at all”. She went on to state that “the fact that that is twice the number of white households in the same position should concern us greatly”.

Runnymede’s financial inclusion research team has previously highlighted the potential impact of scrapping the savings gateway and the child trust fund – both policies which encourage saving – on BME groups. Given the fact that BME people are less likely to save, they are particularly in need of policies which encourage and improve saving. Runnymede is currently preparing evidence for the House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the issue which will shortly be available on our website.

Posted by Vicki 08 October 2010 : Conservative , financial inclusion ,

Mark Hoban MP, Financial Treasury Secretary to the Treasury, has stated that a quarter of all households in the UK have no savings. Speaking at a Policy Exchange fringe event, Hoban also mentioned that the government is working to promote ways to “nudge” people towards saving more effectively, such as through improved financial advice and an annual financial health check.

Hoban’s comments come at the same time as Runnymede has published new research on ethnicity, savings and pensions. Following Runnymede’s finding earlier this year that 60% of Black and Asian people have no savings (in comparison to a quarter of UK households overall), our new research into pensions found that:

  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are 3 times more likely to suffer poverty in old age than white people.
  • Black Caribbean people are nearly twice as likely to experience poverty in retirement.
  • Of those in work, only 39% of ethnic minority people are saving into a private pension, compared to 53% of white people.

In addition, our new report on savings found that many Bangladeshi, Caribbean and Chinese people are less likely to engage with formal or mainstream financial institutions than the white population, often because they lack trust in banks and are reluctant to get into debt.

You can read our new pensions report here, and our savings report here.

Posted by Vicki 21 July 2010 : financial inclusion ,

Newly elected Labour MP Kate Green has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) arguing that the government’s recent decision to scrap the Child Trust Fund and Savings Gateway will have a disproportionate impact on black and minority ethnic people.

The EDM – available here – also mentions recent research by Runnymede which found that 60% of black and asian people have no savings, and argues that the Child Trust Fund and Savings Gateway allowed many black and minority ethnic people on lower incomes to rely less on credit and debt. The EDM currently has 18 signatures.

Posted by Vicki 23 June 2010 : financial inclusion , coalition ,

Today's blog post is written by Phil Mawhinney, a research and policy analyst working working on Runnymede's financial inclusion programme. He recently wrote Runnymede's "Seeking Sound Advice" publication which looks at how government money advice services are used by BME people.

In yesterday's ‘emergency budget’ Chancellor George Osborne set out the coalition government’s plans for reducing the budget deficit and public debt. Some measures in the package – made up of 77% of public spending reductions and 23% tax increases – will have a heavy financial impact on disadvantaged black and minority ethnic people. The axing of the Saving Gateway, a faster-than-planned increase in the state pension age, cuts to welfare spending and likely increases in unemployment are just some of the coming changes.

Osborne said the government ‘simply cannot afford to extend’ the Saving Gateway, a scheme in which people on lower incomes receive 50p from the government for every £1 they save and which received parliamentary approval last year. Given that this scheme enables many BME people on lower incomes to protect themselves and their families from hardship and to rely less on credit and debt, as well as its relatively low cost at an initial annual expense of £160 million, you might have thought that the government would happily invest in encouraging a culture of saving among people often portrayed in the media as feckless. It is doubly disappointing given the earlier scrapping of Child Trust Funds, which enable families to save into a tax-free investment account into which government makes contributions of at least £500.

Posted by Vicki 29 March 2010 : Lib Dem , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Dholakia spoke on ageing and ethnicity in a House of Lords debate last Thursday. In his speech he focused on the high levels of poverty amongst BME older people and highlighted the greater need for specialised care and support.

He mentioned that minority and voluntary organisations are increasingly supplying various supporting services such as home care, day care and social support, adding that they are to some degree acting as primary providers of specialist care, rather than complementing mainstream services.

Runnymede will be launching a research programme on BME older people in the Summer – watch this space for further details.

Posted by Vicki 26 March 2010 : BME , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

Our patron Lord Parekh spoke on the impact of the recession on ethnic minorities in a House of Lords debate on the economy yesterday. Highlighting Runnymede research that BME people are more likely to be rejected for loans, he also focused on how unemployment has hit ethnic minorities harder than the rest of the population.

He suggested that there has been “high incidence” of discrimination when redundancies take place, and also argued that the fact that the public sector is “no longer as sheltered as it was in the earlier stages of the recession” has had an impact on BME people.

Posted by Vicki 25 March 2010 : BME , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

What does yesterday’s budget mean for BME communities? As Runnymede’s recent report on asset inequality found, 60% of Black and Asian people have no savings, and recommended that the government should therefore do more to build up assets for everyone. In light of this, the scrapping of stamp duty for homes costing below £250,000 is a welcome move as it will to some degree encourage home ownership among all communities, particularly first time buyers. In addition, as BME people are more likely to live in deprived areas with low cost housing they will be more likely to buy homes costing under £250,000.

The government’s headline “financial inclusion” policy in yesterday’s budget was the guarantee of bank accounts for all. This is a positive move as it makes concerns around identity requirements (such as having a British passport) less relevant. However more could be done to improve money advice for BME communities. Research by Runnymede to be published next week found that BME communities are at risk of exclusion from the government’s new money advice service despite the fact that given the prevalence of serious money issues in these communities they are in more need of the service.

Finally, increased support for small businesses (SMEs) will help benefit BME communities as most BME entrepreneurs run SMEs. In addition, given past evidence of there being discrimination against BME Small and Medium Enterprises' (SME) access to credit in the UK (see Runnymede’s Financial Inclusion and Ethnicity report) the government announcement that RBS and the Lloyds Bank Group will be compelled to provide £94bn in small business loans is a welcome move.

Posted by Vicki 24 March 2010 : Labour , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

I will be publishing a post on Runnymede's thoughts on today's budget tomorrow morning. In the meantime, for those of you interested in the relationship between financial inclusion and ethnicity take a look at some of Runnymede's recent work on the topic, including our recent report on asset inequality. Readers may also be interested in our 2009 report on ethnicity and cash machines which found that BME people are more likely to live in areas where they have to pay fees to access their money.