Posted on September 18, 2007

Racial Divisions Are Growing In Britain, Watchdog Warns

Paul Waugh, The Evening Standard (England), September 18, 2007

Britain is becoming increasingly segregated along racial lines and Whitehall departments are doing little to meet their duties to tackle discrimination, a new report has found.

In its final study before being wound up, the Commission for Racial Equality will declare tomorrow that the country is more divided than ever.

The CRE’s document, A Lot Done, A Lot To Do, Our Vision For An Integrated Britain, says that segregation—“residentially, socially and in the workplace”—is growing and extremism, both political and religious, is on the rise as people become increasingly disillusioned and disconnected from each other.

But the watchdog, which will be replaced by the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights in two weeks, also castigated ministers for failing to meet their own duties.

Fifteen government departments and agencies, including Whitehall’s biggest spenders, face the threat of legal action for failing to carry out their obligations under race equality legislation.

The CRE has “named and shamed” the departments involved and has written to the Cabinet Office detailing its “deep concerns about the widespread non-compliance” around Whitehall, despite the fact that they have had more than five years to meet standards.

The CRE has asked its lawyers to start legal action against 15 government departments and agencies, including the Cabinet Office, health, education, agriculture, local government, trade and industry, defence, the Home Office and the Foreign Office. Among the few that escape censure are the Treasury, work and pensions, international development and the justice ministry. The CRE says it expects its successor to continue with legal action.

The CRE’s final monitoring report cites as one glaring example its own sponsoring agency, the Department of Communities and Local Government, which has not yet collected records on the ethnic background of 58 per cent of its staff.

The CRE says good progress has been made by parts of local government and in the criminal justice agencies, including the police. But Whitehall departments, NHS trusts, further education colleges, district councils and the Olympic Delivery Authority have fallen short.

It says the national mindset has changed enough to make the “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs” signs that once appeared on boarding houses morally inconceivable now: “But let’s not kid ourselves . An ethnic minority British baby born today is sadly still more likely to go on to receive poor quality education, be paid less, live in sub-standard housing, be in poor health and be discriminated against in other ways than his or her white contemporaries.”