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ISSUE 47 - May 2011
Policy E-Newsletter

Welcome to May 2011 edition of ROTA's policy e-newsletter.

Policy and Research Internships at ROTA

If you are interested in race equality, education, health or criminal justice and would like to develop your research and policy skills while supporting our policy team please get in touch.

Internships are part-time, unpaid positions. Lunch and travel expenses will be reimbursed. To find out more please visit our website here or contact Barbara Nea on t: 020 7902 1177 or e: barbara@rota.org.uk. The closing date for applications is 24th May 2011.


Public Sector Equality Duty comes into force

On 5th April, the new Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in the Equality Act 2010 came into force. Public sector organisations are now required to take a proactive approach to equality.

Under the PSED, any organisation exercising a public function must have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations across all of the protected characteristics. Race, gender, disability, age, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, and sexual orientation are all protected characteristics covered by the new duty.

Read more here.

Specific duties under further review

ROTA, on behalf of the Winning the Race Coalition, expressed deep concern about the decision, announced on 17 March 2011, to reopen the consultation on the specific equality duties.

Read ROTA's response here.

New ROTA Supplement publication on the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 can make a difference, provided local communities work collectively to make it work for them, according to a new publication from Race on the Agenda (ROTA).

In ROTA’s latest Supplement publication,' The Equality Act 2010: What difference does it make?', experts from the voluntary sector talk about the importance of the Act for protected groups and the practical steps we can take to make it work for us.

The range of topics, from HIV and employment to disability, dispel perceptions of the Act as either a cumbersome hunk of legislation or an inaccessible, unenforceable writ of law.

Read the publication here.

Government’s review of regulations should not be at the expense of race equality

The Government is conducting a review of all statutory duties placed on local government in England. It has so far identified 1,294 duties on local authorities, mostly arising from legislation, and is consulting on which must be kept and which should be repealed.

Government has stated that regulations will be scrapped unless “a very good case is made for them to stay”. Included in its list of regulations is the entire Equality Act 2010. As part of this review, the government has recently launched the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ website to seek the views of the public on which regulations should stay and which should go.

ROTA is very concerned about the ‘Equalities’ section of this website, which goes so far as to ask whether the Act should be ‘scrapped altogether’. The Equality Act is an extremely important piece of law that protects against racial discrimination and promotes equality of opportunity and good relations.

We strongly encourage you to take two minutes to respond to this consultation opposing any step backwards, let alone a full repeal of this Act. You can register your comments here.

ROTA Equality Act Master Training

The Equality Act 2010 unifies and strengthens the UK equality law. ROTA is offering training for a select number of equality organisations so that they can teach their members to use the Equality Act 2010. This will include identifying different forms of discrimination, how to use the Public Sector Equality Duty and new provisions that will come into force.

The training will use mainly race based examples and cases to illustrate the general principles and prohibitions of the Equality Act 2010. It will describe how equalities legislation has developed of the past few decades and informed the present Law. This will be linked with adult training methods to create effective trainers.

The four-day training will be held on 7th, 8th, 9th and 30th June. We are currently gathering expressions of interest. If you are interested in receiving this training please contact Anthony Salla at ROTA on e: anthony@rota.org.uk or t: 020 7902 1177.

EHRC review

As part of the Winning the Race Coalition, ROTA will be producing a response to the review on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Over the next month, ROTA will be preparing a response to the review of the EHRC 'Building a Fairer Britain: Reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission'.

The review signals the Government's intension to make EHRC adopt the role of a regulator and streamline its work. This will involve the removal of EHRC's role as a grants distributor.

If you are producing a response within your own organisation or would like to contribute or respond jointly with ROTA please contact Anthony Salla on e: anthony@rota.org.uk.

Children, young people and schools

Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s poverty, ethnicity and education programme

Our Chief Executive, Dr Elizabeth Henry, will be speaking alongside Andrew Stunnell at the launch of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF) new poverty and ethnicity programme on 18th May.

This new programme will increase understanding of the relationship between poverty and ethnicity and aims to develop more effective ways of tackling poverty across ethnic groups. It builds on extensive previous work by JRF. To find out more contact JRF.

ROTA welcomes JRF’s acknowledgment, through this programme, to the links between ethnicity, educational disadvantage and poverty at a time when it is being denied in policy-making. We also welcome JRF’s commitment to developing the evidence base.

Race Equality Teaching

The latest edition of Race Equality Teaching presents a full scale analysis of the potential impact of the proposed educational reforms on BAME communities. Race Equality Teaching is the only practitioners' journal devoted to race equality in education. Robin Richardson’s piece entitled ‘Due Regard and Disregard – the coalition government’s performance on equality, a review of progress and looking ahead’ cites ROTA’s briefing on the Importance of Teaching White Paper, stating ‘Race on the Agenda (ROTA) has drawn attention to serious dangers in the government’s proposals’ on education reform.

To find out more, please follow the link here.

EMA replacement bursary: will it be enough?

The government has announced a new bursary scheme to replace the current Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which helps 16 – 19 year olds to stay on in education. The new bursary fund is worth a total of £180 million. This sum is only about one-third of the funding for the existing EMA.

The new bursary scheme is made up of two parts. The first is a guaranteed payment of £1,200 a year to a small group of the most vulnerable. This will cover students in care and those on income support. The second part will be distributed at the discretion of schools and colleges. They can choose the scale and timing of the bursaries. There are transitional arrangements for those already on EMAs. Students who started to receive EMAs from 2009/10 will continue to receive the same level of payments until the summer of 2012. But students who only started on EMAs this year, and who received the maximum of £30 a week, will now only be eligible for £20 a week until the summer of 2012.

There will also be additional transitional arrangements to help those who are part-way through their studies and are currently receiving the EMA. The transitional arrangements consist of two parts:

* First, all students who successfully applied for EMA in 2009/10 will continue to receive payments at the same level until the end of the 2011/12 academic year.

* Second, young people now in their first year of post-16 study who were in receipt of the maximum weekly EMA payment of £30 will be eligible for £20 for each week they are in education or training until the end of the 2011/12 academic year.

While the launch of the new scheme has been described by many as a ‘U turn’ in policy, the Government had in fact already been planning this replacement scheme.

The Government is now undertaking a short consultation on the scheme which will end on 20th May 2011. To find out more about the consultation and to submit a response please click here.

At ROTA’s latest education event in February, Runnymede highlighted the disproportionate impact replacement of the EMA with a much reduced scheme will have on BAME young people. To read Runnymede’s presentation from this event please click here.

Read the announcement about the new bursary scheme here.

Early Years

Dame Clare Tickell’s review of the Early Years Foundation Stage has been published. In conclusion, Dame Tickell has agreed that the Early Years Foundation Stage has had a positive impact on outcomes for children and helped to raise standards and made the following key recommendations:

  • Early Years Foundation Stage should be radically slimmed down to make it easier to understand, less burdensome and more focused on making sure children start school ready to learn.

  • Parents should get a summary of their child's development, alongside the health visitor check at age two, to help identify any early problems or special educational needs.

  • A new focus on three prime areas which are the foundations for children's ability to learn and develop healthily: personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; and physical development. Beneath these should be four areas of learning where these skills are applied: literacy, mathematics, expressive arts and design and understanding the world. There should also be a stronger link between the Early Years Foundation Stage and what is expected of children in primary school.

  • The workforce should be freed from unnecessary bureaucracy so they can spend more time interacting with children - including scrapping written risk assessments for nursery trips and outings.

  • All Early Years practitioners should have at least a level 3 qualification (which is equivalent to A level) and the Government should consider applying the 'teaching schools' model to the Early Years setting.

  • Ofsted should be clearer on what is required of settings when they are inspected to help reduce high levels of paperwork.

ROTA welcomes the review, which acknowledges certain inequalities faced by young BAME children, and the need for targeted data collection and solutions to address them.

We hope to develop our work looking at race equality in the Early Years setting in response to a lack of work taking place in this area and to inform the implementation of the recommendations of this review and related Government initiatives. If you are aware of any relevant work or have relevant expertise or evidence please get in touch with Barbara Nea, ROTA on t: 020 7902 1177 or e: barbara@rota.org.uk.

Government’s child poverty strategy

In April, the Government published its child poverty strategy, ‘Tackling the causes of disadvantage and transforming families’ lives’. The child poverty strategy, which is required by the Child Poverty Act 2010, sets out how the Government plans to address the high levels of child poverty in the UK.

As part of this agenda, a new Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has been established, which will hold Government to account. The Commission will report to Parliament and seek to monitor and drive progress towards ending child poverty, improving life chances and increasing social mobility.

In our response to the draft strategy in February, we welcomed the government’s commitment to tackling child poverty, and in particular finding long-term solutions through addressing its root causes. We highlighted how certain groups of BAME children and young people are overrepresented among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in our society. We urged government to respond to the ‘ethnic penalty’ in their response to child poverty - that is, the differences in poverty outcomes for BAME people that are still present when socio-economic factors such as employment status and family structure are taken into account. We also highlighted how public spending cuts and reforms in other areas of policy making, such as in welfare and education, are at odds with government’s stated commitment to addressing child poverty, and risk making the growing numbers of vulnerable families poorer.

While we are pleased that the final child poverty strategy states government will address the specific barriers faced by BAME children and young people, it still fails to acknowledge the ‘ethnic penalty’ and, the detail of what government will practically do specifically for BAME children and young people is thin. As such, we are concerned this commitment will be ignored.

Read our response to the draft strategy here.

Read Government’s child poverty strategy here.

Raising aspirations: Supporting and strengthening BAME families

Raising aspiration, according to the new report by Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), is a simple equation, S = PE + A + 2H + O, where Success = Parental Engagement + Aspiration + Hard work (or working twice as hard) + Opportunities. In other words, to ensure success it is imperative that parents provide the right engagement, encourage aspiration, inspire and motivate their children to achieve to the highest standard (which will entail hard work) and provide the right set of opportunities for success.

Read the report here.

ROTA attended the national launch of this report and contributed to some of the solutions that will be taken forward from this piece of BTEG’s work. To read the conference report click here.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice

ROTA response to Government’s green paper on criminal justice

In March, ROTA co-produced a response to a Government consultation on the green paper on criminal justice, ‘Breaking the Cycle – Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing’ with other members of the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Third Sector Forum, convened by the Centre for Mental Health.

The response concentrated on aspects of the green paper that are particularly relevant to those with mental health issues and included a focus on disproportionately in this area faced by BAME communities. To read the submission please click here.

The green paper is wide-ranging and includes proposals in relation to sentencing, delivery of services, and commissioning of interventions. Some of its key proposals and policy positions include:

  • a positive message about the benefits of diversion away from the criminal justice system (CJS) where appropriate;

  • support for greater local decision-making about where resources should be directed;

  • more appropriate and proportionate use of custodial remand,

  • removal of minimum sentences and arbitrarily punitive sentencing guidance;

  • greater autonomy for professionals especially in respect of enforcement;

  • a clear and continuing commitment to greater involvement of the voluntary and community sector in delivering interventions; and

  • an early and explicit recognition of the complex problems faced by offenders, especially prisoners.

Read the Green Paper here.

Offender Personality Disorder Pathway Implementation Plan

The Department of Health and National Offender Management Service are consulting on their joint Offender Personality Disorder Pathway Implementation Plan until 12th May.

Personality Disorder is a disorder that affects two-thirds of prisoners and a high proportion of cases managed by probation. For a relatively small number, in its most severe forms, it is linked to a high risk of harm to themselves and to others.

ROTA will submit a joint response with the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Third Sector Forum, which will highlight issues of serious disproportionately in relation to the treatment of BAME offenders with personality disorders. In particular, there is considerable underrepresentation of BAME people in specialist services for people with personality disorders in prisons and other criminal justice settings, even though the limited evidence that does exist, suggests there is no differences in prevalence of personality disorder between BAME people and the general population. Another serious inequality are the critical gaps in knowledge relating to the experience and treatment and the possible differences in the onset of personality disorder for BAME people compared with the general population.


ROTA’s response to the public health white paper

In November the Department for Health announced a consultation on its public health white paper, ‘Healthy lives, healthy people White Paper: Our strategy for public health in England’.

This white paper outlines a radical shift in the way government tackles public health challenges. It seeks to empower local communities, give local government the freedom, responsibility and funding to innovate and develop their own ways of improving public health locally. Financial incentives will reward local authority progress on improving health and reducing inequalities. Mechanisms will be put in place that aim to ensure greater transparency and accountability to local people. A public health outcomes framework will be developed.

In March we submitted two responses to this consultation; in partnership with the Afiya Trust and independently.

In our responses, we welcomed the white paper’s emphasis on health inequalities, preventative services, and on the wider socio-economic determinants of health, on which we have been calling for attention from Government for some time. We highlighted the following key concerns, however:

  • The lack of clarity about Marmot’s understanding of health inequalities in relation to BAME and other equality groups. While the white paper acknowledges that different approaches are required to deal with the specific health inequalities faced by different groups, there is not enough within it to support such approaches.

  • The conflation of race inequality and socio-economic disadvantage. It is true that certain BAME groups are significantly overrepresented among those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, and this has a bearing on health and wellbeing. There is much evidence of the ‘ethnic penalty’ within health. Tackling socio-economic disadvantage alone is an ineffective response to the disadvantages faced by certain BAME groups as it allows racism to go unchecked and, therefore, to continue to generate the disadvantage faced by certain BAME communities. It also means that the inequalities experienced by BAME people who do not face socio-economic disadvantage are ignored.

  • There is an insufficient response to inequalities under the wider determinants of health, such as in education, employment and criminal justice. In fact, in many areas, Government’s reforms are likely to exacerbate health inequalities. Similarly, the public spending cuts, which are disproportionately impacting on BAME communities, are having an impact contrary to the white paper’s aims of addressing health inequalities.

  • Lack of clarity around responsibility and the implications that this may have for people who are vulnerable and face inequalities and, as a result, have little control over their circumstances and their responses to it.

  • The limited consideration of equality within the proposed Public Health Outcomes Framework and associated risks that the proposed Health Premium might disadvantage local authorities working in areas with complex and significant health inequalities.

  • The lack of acknowledgement of the exclusion of BAME communities from community empowerment initiatives and local democratic processes.

  • The lack of provisions to reduce the risk linked to GPs lack of experience in engaging with communities that face acute inequalities and the organisations that have been set up to support them.

To read our response please click here.

To read our joint response with the Afiya Trust please click here.

Other national news

Social mobility strategy launched

On 5th April, the Government's Social Mobility Strategy was launched. The social mobility strategy, 'Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers' focuses on inter-generational social mobility, aiming to ensure everyone has a fair opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. It seeks to improve social mobility at each life stage: the foundation years (ages 0-5), school years (ages 5-16), transition years (ages 16-24) and adulthood (ages 24 and over).

A range of key indicators have been included, defining how social mobility is measured. It is intended that these will be included in departmental Business Plans so that social mobility is placed at the heart of Whitehall policy-making.

Given the overrepresentation of certain BAME groups among socio-economically disadvantaged groups, ROTA welcomes the recognition, through this policy, that income and social class of parents continues to have a huge bearing on a child’s chances. We are disappointed, however, to see limited reference to race inequality and discrimination which, still has a strong bearing over social mobility and requires specific consideration. We are also concerned that the vision set out in the strategy for a socially mobile society – the principal objective of the coalition Government's social policy – has been undermined by a range of other policies.

These include excessive cuts to services for children and young people; welfare reduction, which will disproportionately affect low income and some vulnerable families; increased tuition fees; a reduction in the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA); and educational reforms, which are likely to affect quality of education provision, particularly in more disadvantaged areas.

The Government will need to work hard to ensure that the social mobility indicators it sets are supported by activity across all levels of Government.

ROTA will seek to influence Government to ensure that race equality is acknowledged and addressed in the implementation of this strategy.

Read the press release here.

Runnymede launches Numbers Game film: Does race have a place in the Big Society?

In Runnymede’s latest film, Director Dr Rob Berkeley, travels to Chicago to find out how BAME people already living with 'Big Society' policies get their voices heard. The film can be watched on Runnymede’s website here.

MiNet’s news

Launch of MiNet’s report on education services and the recession, 25th May

On 25th May, MiNet will launch its mapping research into the impact of the economic downturn on BAME educations services.

Speakers will include Dr Uvanne Maylor, Reader in Education, University of Bedfordshire and Dr Rob Berkley, Director of the Runnymede Trust. The event will be chaired by Dr Elizabeth Henry, ROTA’s CEO.

Dr Maylor, whose research interests are underpinned by a commitment to equity and social justice, has a particularly interest in issues of ethnicity, culture and racism as they impact on educational practice and student and staff experience/outcomes. Dr Maylor will talk about her own work and comment on the findings from MiNet's research and current challenges in education.

The Runnymede Trust is one of the UK’s leading independent race equality thinktanks.

The launch event is FREE and will take place at the Abbey Centre, Westminster, from 5:30-7:00pm. The event will be followed by ROTA’s extraordinary AGM and networking. Book your attendance here.

London news

Inspectorate confirms Mayor’s Draft London Plan is ‘sound’

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has published the Inspectorate’s Examination in Public (EIP) Report into the draft London Plan, which carefully looked at each of the Mayor’s proposed policies for the future development of the capital.

At the same time, the Mayor has sent a draft of his new London Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Subject to Ministerial approval, the final Plan, which will be more focussed than the current version, will be published in the summer.

The London Plan sets out the Mayor’s planning framework for London, which aims to promote an attractive, well designed and greener city.

ROTA’s representations in writing and at the EIP contributed to changes to the London Plan for the benefit of the voluntary and community sector and London’s BAME communities. To obtain a copy of our written response please contact Barbara Nea on e: barbara@rota.org.uk.

Read EIP panel report here.

London Councils grants review

For years London Councils has awarded £26.4 million funding to the voluntary and community sector to address inequalities in London through its commissioning programme. A significant proportion of this has been targeted at disadvantaged BAME communities. In December, London Councils made a decision to cut its funding, half-way through a commissioning cycle that had already been agreed, to £17.8 million.

This decision was made following a six month period of consideration by London Councillors, within which ROTA, and many other groups raised concerns about the impact cuts would have on the most disadvantaged Londoners and the failure of London Councils to consider this adequately through the rushed process that led to the decision. It was these concerns that led service users of Roma Support Group, one organisation that would have lost funds for its highly successful education advocacy project and 21% of its organisational income, to prompt a judicial review of the decision.

On 28th January, this review concluded with elements of the decision made by London Council Leaders on 14th December being quashed because it had been reached without due regard to statutory equality duties under the Race Relations Act 1976, the Sex Discrimination Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. While the overall decision to reduce the budget was not quashed, the judge ordered London Councils to undertake a full equality impact assessment and reconsider which services it would cut.

What happened next?

Following on from this, London Councils has now completed the equality impact assessment ordered by the Judge and at the next London Councils Grants Committee meeting, members are likely to make a recommendation to the Leaders that the budget cut proposed in December is reduced (by about £3 million) and that a number of services that had been put forward for cuts in December, continue to be funded until the end of the grant cycle.

What we think?

While we are pleased that, following a more thorough equality impact assessment, additional services will continue to be funded, we feel the overall cut is too big and will disproportionately impact on London’s most disadvantaged BAME communities. London Councils Grants Scheme is one of the most important sources of funds for specialist services to meet the needs London’s most vulnerable residents. Without it, a growing number of vulnerable Londoners will not have access to adequate services.

ROTA’s work on this review

ROTA has been involved in the review throughout, highlighting the impact cuts to this important fund would have on London’s most disadvantaged BAME communities. We have submitted three consultation responses (available from the publications pages of our website or by contacting Barbara Nea on e: barbara@rota.org.uk).

We have also been engaging in the campaign on the issue which is being led by VSF.

Save specialist services for BAME women and children

Southall Black Sisters (SBS) are asking people to register concern about the proposed funding cuts by London Councils to specialist domestic violence, rape and abuse services delivered by Ashiana Network, ELBWO, EACH, SBS and Women and Girls Network (WAGN).

The proposed cuts will mean almost 2,000 BAME women a year from across 24 London boroughs will lose access to these highly reputable, trusted, specialist, life-saving services which have been developed to meet the specific needs of the women and children they support. The loss of these key services would have a devastating impact on BAME women and children.

Take one minute of your time to sign SBS's petition, which is available here and ask others to do the same.

Big Squeeze

London Voluntary Services Council (LVSC) has launched this year's Big Squeeze Survey, measuring the impact of the recession and cuts on voluntary and community sector services in London. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey here.



ROTA Extraordinary Annual General Meeting 2009/10

Following our Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 15th March 2011, Race on the Agenda hereby gives notice to its members that our Extraordinary Annual General Meeting for the financial year 2009/10 is scheduled to take place on 25th May 2011 at The Abbey Centre, 34 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BU.

This meeting is solely for the purpose of presenting our financial statement for the year ended 31st March 2010 and to appoint auditors for the financial year ending 31st March 2011. Due to unforeseen circumstances, these actions could not be carried out at the AGM held on 15th March 2011.

The event will begin with the launch of MiNet's report on its mapping research into the impact of the economic downturn on BAME education services. The Extraordinary AGM will commence at 6:30pm where the acounts for the financial year 2009/10 will be presented by ROTA's auditor.

Registration will be from 5:15pm and the formal meeting commences after MiNet's report launch at 6.30pm.

For the formal business agenda, how to book or to appoint a proxy, please contact Saifur Valli on 020 7902 1177 or email saifur@rota.org.uk.

You can book your place online by completing the booking form here.


Race on the Agenda
Waterloo Business Centre
117 Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8UL
Tel: 020 7902 1177 Fax: 020 7921 0036

Email: rota@rota.org.uk




About the newsletter
Our policy newsletter provides a monthly update on developments under our three policy priorities – health, education and criminal justice – as well as from our policy projects which fall under these areas. It also provides a more general update, from ROTA and MiNet, on London policy developments which are likely to impact on BAME communities.

About MiNet
MiNet is London's BAME third sector network which provides a voice for London's BAME population in the development of regional policy. Since 2002, MiNet has been hosted by ROTA on behalf of London's BAME voluntary and community sector. Find out more about MiNet here.