13th May 2021
As a coalition of equality organisations, we the undersigned welcome the Government’s commitment to bring forward ‘measures to address racial and ethnic disparities’ as announced on Tuesday in the Queen’s speech.
Following a turbulent year which has shone a light on glaring racial injustices, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, such disparities cannot be ignored. Racial inequalities are a matter of life and death, and it is extremely important that detailed and considered measures are taken to address structural and institutional racism in the UK.
We urge the Government to take meaningful action that gets to the heart of racial disparities in the UK, the result of which is disproportionate poverty and barriers in access to decent housing and healthcare. Such action includes tackling deep-rooted racial discrimination across employment, the criminal justice system, education, and the immigration system, as well as steps to ensure the equal enjoyment of political, civil, social, and economic rights.
This announcement follows mandatory Voter ID plans outlined in the Queen’s Speech, which threatens to disproportionately disenfranchise Black and ethnic minority voters, many of whom lack any form of photo ID. This legislation is accompanied by recent proposals in the Police, Crimes, Sentencing and Courts Bill which carries with it profoundly worrying implications for Black and ethnic minority people, particularly Gypsy Roma Traveller groups, and will widen disparities in the criminal justice system. If the Government is truly committed to addressing racial inequality, it must heed warnings of the potentially damaging impact this proposed legislation would have on our communities.
There is an urgent need to offer a positive vision that not only makes full use of existing equalities laws, but goes further to include a real plan to eliminate racial disparities across the public and private sectors, backed up by regulatory enforcement.
We urge Ministers to go beyond the recommendations outlined in the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. We are clear that this report falls drastically short of the changes that are urgently needed to deliver the vision for society outlined in the Queen’s Speech.
This would include legislation to tackle direct and indirect racial discrimination and institutional racism in our public services. As ever, we call for greater enforcement of existing equalities legislation to ensure the fair treatment of ethnic minorities, immigrants and asylum seekers here in the UK.
The Coalition of Race Equality Organisations (CORE)*
Dr Patrick Roach - Chair of the TUC Anti Racism Taskforce
Gloria Mills - Chair of the TUC Race Relations Committee
Lester Holloway - Policy Officer of the TUC Anti Racism Equality & Strategy Department
*CORE’s membership is as follows:
· Alliance for Inclusive Education
· Black Training and Enterprise Group
· Black South West Network
· BME National
· Caribbean and African Health Network
· Council of Somali Organisations
· Croydon BME Forum
· Friends, Families and Travellers
· Greater Manchester BAME Network
· Lancashire BME Network
· Migrants’ Rights Network
· NHS BME Network
· Operation Black Vote
· Positive Action in Housing
· Race on the Agenda
· Race Equality Foundation
· Race Equality Matters
· Runnymede Trust
· South Asian Health Action
· Steering Group for London Race Equality Councils
· The Traveller Movement
· Voice4Change England