Commission responds to John Denham speech

Response to speech by John Denham on Racism in Britain ten years since the Race Equality Duty was introduced

14 January 2010

Simon Woolley, Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission says:

“Whilst we have come a long way in tackling racism since the Race Relations Act was amended to include the Race Equality Duty ten years ago, there is still much to do.

“Although there has been a public sea-change in attitudes to race and discrimination over the past decade, many of our institutions have failed to catch up with the public they serve and represent. There is some way to go in ensuring that they treat everybody fairly and root out discrimination.

“Many people from ethnic minority backgrounds still experience unfair disadvantage in their lives - from the education they receive, to job opportunities and the homes in which they live. For example, black people are still seven times more like likely than white people to be stopped and searched by the police in England and Wales, with Asians twice as likely – figures which are a major impediment to good race relations.

“However, the Commission believes that socio-economic status also remains one of the biggest drivers of continuing disadvantage and inequality for many people in society. In many parts of our nation the colour of disadvantage is white as much as it is black or brown. For example, educational attainment and health outcomes are still shaped strongly by socio-economic status and social class.

“The Equality Bill, with its socio-economic duty, marks a major step forward. The Commission supports the socio-economic duty in the Bill because we believe that no-one’s destiny should be defined by their origins. A strong Equality Bill, which provides for an effective role for the Commission is key to tackling discrimination of all kinds.”