Racial Inequality Report Shows Ethnic Minorities Still Judged On 'Colour Of Skin'

'The UK is a long way from a country where citizens are judged on the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin.'

18/08/2016 09:30 | Updated 18 August 2016

Race inequality is still “entrenched” in Britain, with black and ethnic minority people facing growing hardships because of the colour of their skin, a new report has found. 

A sweeping review examining areas including education, employment, housing, pay, health and criminal justice painted an “alarming picture”, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The commission today published the biggest ever review into race equality in the UK. 

David Isaac, chairman of the body, said: “We must redouble our efforts to tackle race inequality urgently or risk the divisions in our society growing and racial tensions increasing.”

Farah Elahi, policy and research analyst at the Runnymede Trust, said the report shows “the extent of racial unfairness”. 

The study found that black people are more likely to be the victim of a homicide than those who are white and unemployment rates are “significantly higher” for ethnic minorities.

Here are five of the main issues affecting black and ethnic minorities in Britain today:

  • Violent crime
    Laurent Hamels via Getty Images
    Black people in England are more than three times more likely to be a victim of homicide than those who are white.

    The homicide rate for black people was 30.5 per million population, 14.1 for Asian people and 8.9 for white people.

    Rates of prosecution and sentencing for black people were three times higher than for white people –18 per thousand population compared with six per thousand population for white people.

    For sentencing it was 13 per thousand population for black people and five per thousand population for white people.
  • Unemployment
    Paul Viant via Getty Images
    Unemployment rates were 'significantly higher' for ethnic minorities.

    If you are young and from an ethnic minority, your life chances have got much worse over the past five years and are at the most challenging for generations.

    Since 2010, there has been a 49% increase in the number of 16 to 24 year olds across the UK from ethnic minority communities who are long-term unemployed, compared with a fall of 2% if you are white.

    Black workers are also more than twice as likely to be in insecure forms of employment such as temporary contracts or working for an agency – which increased by nearly 40% for black and Asian workers, compared with a 16% rise for white workers.
  • Wages
    Jeffrey Hamilton via Getty Images
    Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than white employees with the qualifications.
  • Poverty
    olesiabilkei via Getty Images
    If you are an ethnic minority person, you are still more likely to live in poverty.

    Evidence shows that 35.7% of ethnic minorities were more likely to live in poverty compared with 17.2% of white people.
  • Positions of power via Getty Images
    Ethnic minorities are still 'hugely under-represented' in positions of power - such as judges and police chiefs.

    A total 14% of the UK population is from an ethnic minority background, but out of the 2,686 judges who declared their ethnicity in England and Wales, only 159 (5.9%) were from an ethnic minority.

    Ethnic minority police officers made up only 5.5% of all officers in England and Wales and there are no ethnic minority Chief Constables.


David Isaac said: “If you are black or an ethnic minority in modern Britain, it can often still feel like you’re living in a different world, never mind being part of a one nation society.”

He called for the Government to introduce a comprehensive race equality strategy, arguing that the approach in recent years has been “stuttering”.

He said: “We need to build a fair society in which our origins do not determine our destinies.”

Poorer white communities also face “continuing disadvantage”, the report added. 

The commission said there has been progress in some areas, citing an increase in the number of ethnic minority MPs and a rise in the proportion with a degree-level qualification across all ethnic groups.

Elahi said: “The UK is a long way from a country where citizens are judged on the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin.

“The extent of unfairness revealed by the EHRC report shows that lives are being ruined and talent being held back on grounds of race.

“We hope this acts as a wake-up call to government, decision-makers and the media to focus on the issues of systemic discrimination that keep Britain divided socially and economically.

“The race inequality gap is not sustainable or acceptable, and the colour-blind approach is not working.”

Elahi called on Theresa May to appoint a dedicated Cabinet-level race equality minister and implement a comprehensive race equality strategy. 

A Government spokeswoman said ministers are “committed to making Britain a country that works for everyone”.

She said: “That means delivering real social reform, so that all citizens have the opportunity to realise their full potential.

“We are making real progress - with BME employment rates at their highest levels for 15 years.

“But there is clearly more to do, which is why we are delivering a comprehensive race equality programme on employment, university places, apprenticeships, start-up loans and recruitment to the police and armed forces.”

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