Theresa May’s racial disparity audit which details levels of inequality in the United Kingdom has been dismissed as “vacuous guff”.
A new government Ethnicity Facts and Figures website published on Tuesday highlighted how people of different races are treated in areas including health, education, employment and the criminal justice system.
But Labour said what really mattered was tackling inequalities not just listing them.
Dawn Butler, the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, said the prime minister had “done nothing but exacerbate the problems” of inequality during her time in government.”
“Far from tacking the burning injustices, she has added fuel to the fire,” Butler told the Commons.
“What we need is a government that is not scared to act on the uncomfortable truths. Labour is that government in waiting. History has shown that positive change only happens under a Labour government.”
Damian Green, the first secretary of state, defended the government. He told MPs “people who know what they are talking about”, including “experts” who worked on inequality issues, welcomed the audit.
“The people who don’t are the Labour Party who live in their own world,” he said. “The Labour Party has a view of the world were people are permanent victims.”
But Labour MP Chris Bryant said the audit missed the point as it failed to examine what the causes of race inequality were and could lead to false conclusions being drawn from the data.
“What a load of sententious vacuous guff,” the former shadow cabinet told Green. “Honestly he should be ashamed. Has he just taken over the Department for Circumlocution and the office for ‘how not to do anything while pretending to do something’?
“The honest truth is unless you do serious analytical work behind the statistics to check whether there this is just a matter of correlation or causation, there is no value to this work whatsoever.”
He added: “Mrs Thatcher fell at the same time as Marathons were changed to Snickers - but I am not aware there was any causal relation between the two.”
Green said the data was being published before any conclusions about what caused inequalities were drawn. “We are doing this the sensible way,” he said.
As part of the government’s response to its audit, the Department for Work and Pensions will target 20 “hotspots” where ethnic minority people are more likely to be unemployed.
Its work could include mentoring, traineeships for 16 to 24-year-olds, and offering English, maths and vocational training alongside work placements.
In the criminal justice system, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will put in place recommendations from the recent Lammy Review, including performance indicators for prisons to assess how prisoners of different races are treated.
In education, an external review will be brought forward to improve practice in excluding children from school.