Blacks And Asians Twice As Likely To Live In Poverty

Nigel Morris, Independent (London), April 30, 2007

Four in 10 black and Asian people in Britain live in poverty, twice the rate among white people, research has revealed.

Despite improving academic performance and qualifications, they still face prejudice in job interviews and are paid lower wages than their white counterparts.

In a series of reports published today, the academic think-tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), discloses that 65 per cent of Bangladeshis, 55 per cent of Pakistanis, 45 per cent of Black Africans and 30 per cent of Indians and Black Caribbeans are in poverty. The overall poverty rate for ethnic minorities is 40 per cent, compared with 20 per cent for white Britons.

Almost half of all black and Asian children are growing up poor, including a staggering 70 per cent of Bangladeshi youngsters.

The JRF reports show that only 20 per cent of Bangladeshis, 30 per cent of Pakistanis and 40 per cent of Black Africans of working age are in full-time employment, compared with more than 50 per cent of white British people of working age.

Disproportionate numbers of ethnic minority workers are in low-paid jobs. Half of Bangladeshi workers, one-third of Pakistanis and one-quarter of black Africans are earning less than £6.50 an hour, the JRF discovered. As a result, 60 per cent of Bangladeshi and 40 per cent of Pakistani families in which at least one adult is working face poverty, compared with only 10 to 15 per cent of white Britons.

Its research concludes that people from ethnic-minority groups do not receive the same rewards as white British people with equivalent academic qualifications such as degrees.

Julia Unwin, the director of the JRF, said: “We need an urgent rethink from government and employers, so that minority ethnic groups don’t miss out on opportunities in the workplace.”

[Editor’s Note: The series of reports accessed in the body of the press release here.]


The poverty rate for Britain’s minority ethnic groups stands at 40%, double the 20% found amongst white British people, according to new research published today (30 April) by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). Minority ethnic groups are also being overlooked for jobs and are being paid lower wages, despite improvements in education and qualifications.

The research highlights the differences between minority ethnic groups with 65% of Bangladeshis living in poverty compared to 55% of Pakistanis, 45% of Black Africans and 30% of Indians and Black Caribbeans. Over half of Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African children in the UK are growing up in poverty with a staggering 70% of Bangladeshi children growing up poor.

The research shows that people from minority ethnic groups who have higher educational achievements do not receive the same rewards as those from white British backgrounds with similar qualifications. A wide range of factors are shown to affect different groups and the research highlights how the Government needs to consider and implement more targeted policies.

JRF Director Julia Unwin said: “Although the past decade has seen some improvements, there are still some very serious problems which remain unsolved. This research shows how policies need to address the different situation of each group and be followed through on a practical level. We need an urgent rethink from Government and employers so that minority ethnic groups do not miss out on opportunities in the workplace and higher educational attainment is properly recognised.”

The reports show that:

*&nbsponly 20% of Bangladeshis, 30% of Pakistanis and 40% of Black Africans of working age are in full time work (compared to over 50% of white British people of working age);

*&nbspeven with a degree, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men are less likely to be employed than someone white with the same qualifications;

*&nbspdespite a rapid growth in Pakistani and Bangladeshi women going to university, they suffer high unemployment and are much less likely than Indian or white British women to be in professional or managerial jobs;

*&nbspthe problem is not confined to first generation immigrants: British born people from minority ethnic backgrounds, especially Indian, Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups are less likely to get jobs than their white equivalents;

* while poverty levels among white British people are the same whether they live in London or elsewhere, rates among minority ethnic groups are far worse for those living in London.

Part of a major new programme of JRF research looking into the links between poverty and ethnicity, these first five reports look at education, employment and how ill health affects work opportunities and access to ‘sickness’ benefits. Providing an overview of the situations for different minority ethnic groups, the research also suggests possible solutions to address some of the problems.

Notes to Editors:

1.&nbspThe reports, Ethnic minorities in the labour market: Dynamics and diversity by Ken Clark and Stephen Drinkwater; The role of higher education in providing opportunities for South Asian women by Paul Bagguley and Yasmin Hussain; Poverty and ethnicity in the UK by Lucinda Platt; and Long-term ill health, poverty and ethnicity by Sarah Salway, Lucinda Platt, Punita Chowbey, Kaveri Harriss and Elizabeth Bayliss, are published for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation by The Policy Press. Printed copies are available from Marston Book Services (01235 465500).

2.&nbsp Poverty among ethnic groups: How and why does it differ? by Guy Palmer and Peter Kenway is published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

3.&nbspThe Joseph Rowntree Foundation is one of the largest social policy research and development charities in the UK. It supports a research and development programme that seeks to understand the causes of social difficulties and explore ways of overcoming them.

4.&nbspA JRF event in association with the Runnymede Trust, Poverty: does ethnicity matter? takes place on 30 April. The two keynote speakers are Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and Professor Lord (Bhikhu) Parekh, a Trustee of the Runnymede Trust.

Issued by Nasreen Memon, JRF Head of Media Relations: 01904 615 950 / 020 7278 9665 [email protected]

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