James Chapman, Daily Mail (London), November 24, 2011
Nick Clegg will today warn that hundreds more young black men are in jail than at top universities, in an explosive attack on race relations in Britain.
The Deputy Prime Minister will also use his speech in Brixton, South London, to accuse the banking sector and the sports industry of discrimination.
There are 400 more young black British men in prison than young black students at the elite Russell Group of universities, he will say.
Britain has ‘come a long way’, he will concede, but it is now up to businesses and industries to support talented people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Mr Clegg will say that no matter how many new laws are put on the statute book, what happens at home has a ‘huge influence’ on how children do.
He will say: ‘In any family, black, white, rich, poor, we need parents and relatives to support their children, helping with homework, keeping them in school.’
Mr Clegg will also criticise football’s elite, pointing out that there are no black managers in the Premier League and just two in the top four divisions, though a quarter of players are black.
In an onslaught on High Street banks, he will point to evidence suggesting that firms owned by black people are four times more likely than those owned by whites to be turned down for loans.
Even if they they can get credit, he will say, black African, black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani-owned firms have also been subject to higher interest rates than white and Indian-run enterprises.
Aides insisted, however, that he was not accusing banks of institutional racism, and admitted current evidence was limited and that the reasons for ethnic minority customers having less access to credit were likely to be complex.
Mr Clegg will announce that he is asking race equalities minister Andrew Stunell to examine the ‘barriers preventing black and ethnic minority groups from accessing loans’, working with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the Government’s ethnic minority advisory group.
Giving the annual Scarman Lecture in Brixton, the scene of race riots in 1981, Mr Clegg will attack Labour’s approach to race equality as ‘too narrow’. He will say: ‘They attempted to deliver equality solely through the state. The state has been used to hide the sins of the market–and the veil is now being lifted.’
Mr Clegg, who will admit that he leads a party that is ‘still too male and too pale’, will say that among current business leaders, there are some ‘hugely important’ ethnic minority figures–but not enough.
‘Why is it that members of some of our ethnic communities want to start their own businesses, but their success doesn’t match their ambitions?’ he will ask. We know, for example, that 35 per cent of individuals from black African origin say they want to start a business, but only six per cent actually do.
‘Past evidence shows that firms owned by individuals of black African origin have been four times more likely than so-called “white firms” to be denied loans outright. And that Bangladeshi, Pakistani, black Caribbean and black African-owned businesses have been subject to higher interest rates than White and Indian-owned enterprises.
‘The reasons will be complicated: a mix of poorer education among ethnic minority groups, perhaps a lack of the right guidance, a lack of their own capital to invest. There may be an element of self-exclusion too.
‘But if we are serious about turning the UK into an island of entrepreneurs, we need to get to the bottom of this. Are our banks doing enough?
‘Britain’s banks, bailed out by the British people, have just as much responsibility as everyone else, arguably more responsibility, to help Britain build a strong and dynamic economy. Unleashing black and ethnic minority talent is their duty too.
‘We urgently need to lift a lid on the injustices hard-wired into our economy. It simply cannot be right that we still live in a society where if you are from an ethnic minority, you are much more likely to be poor.’
The research highlighted by Mr Clegg was published in the International Small Business Journal, and involved more than 3,000 British firms.
Lesley McLeod, of the British Bankers’ Association, said: ‘UK banks wish to support all our customers. We take racism very seriously and many already have diversity and inclusion policies, with trained staff in place to help. Bank mentors are already working with the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance.’