ISSUE 45 - December 2010
Policy E-Newsletter

ROTA CEO Elizabeth Henry asks ‘What is fair?’
Listen to the podcast here

London Councils funding cuts at odds with aims?

Judicial review to determine if consultation was in breach of equalities duties. Read more here. “the social impact will be huge…"”
Dada Felja, Roma Support Group
Big Society – do they mean us?

Localism agenda requires support for equalities to back up big talk. Read more here.

‘the Big Society discussion does not touch on (in)equality. Instead it favours a much less defined debate around fairness."
Anthony Salla, MiNet

Also in this issue



The Importance of Teaching: A ROTA brief on the Schools White Paper

The government has announced a wide-ranging series of reforms to education with the launch of the new Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching. ROTA welcomes the White Paper’s emphasis on the need to address attainment gaps and educational disadvantage. However, we are deeply concerned with the lack of emphasis in the White Paper on race equality and the duties schools should adhere to in relation to the Equality Act 2010.

We are also pleased that the White Paper identifies the need to address inequality in relation to exclusion. Yet it presents no adequate alternatives to exclusion. Similarly, the focus on free schools and academies overlooks research that shows these schools can exacerbate inequality. As a result, we believe there is considerable risk that the proposals will lead to a segregated schools system, with poorer services leading to poorer outcomes for BAME pupils. Read more here.


What affect will the higher education fee rise have on BAME students?

Broken bank windows. Toppled police vans. Burned effigies of the Deputy Prime Minister.

All in a day’s study.

The Lord Browne report – which has succeeded in convincing politicians to lift the cap on student tuition fees to £9,000 pounds – has produced more than just broken glass. It has aggravated differences between interpretations of the value of university.

Proponents like Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Universities Minister David Willets say the proposals will lead to greater social mobility. Proposals that include getting rid of upfront fees and charging higher earners more for education, they say, are fair.

Furthermore, they contend that slogans like ‘no fees up front’ and ‘buy two years, get one free’ are more than just marketing gimmicks.

Vince Cable, Business Secretary, said "we want as many students from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to go to university to have that life changing opportunity.”

A part of the plan says that all universities that wanted to charge higher fees would have to take part in a scholarship programme. This may be targeted at students who receive the government's new pupil premium when they are at school. It could also mean that their first year at university is free.

Maintenance grants for the poorest students, with household incomes below £25,000, will be increased from £2,900 to £3,250 a year. Those with a family income of up to £42,000 will be allowed a partial grant. The government will retain a higher maintenance grant for students in the capital.

Students counter that the rise in fees, alongside the unleashing of market forces on the university system, will heavily affect the most disadvantaged. Instead of democratising the university system and helping students, some say it will benefit prestigious universities the most.

Gareth Thomas MP, the Shadow Minister for Higher Education, said the proposals were a "tragedy" for students and would "plunge universities into turmoil".

A number of these changes will hit BAME pupils hardest.

According to David Lammy MP, the already limited numbers of black students in the UK’s most prestigious Russell Group Universities (which include Oxford, Cambridge and LSE) will be further reduced.

If you are a young person, email to let us know how these changes will affect you.

Higher education changes add up to more difficulties for BAME students

BAME students could be deterred from attending university if the tuition fee increase is passed on 9 December, argued a number of Labour MPs in a Westminster debate last month.

If Russell Group universities decide to charge higher fees than other institutions, BAME pupils may seek to attend cheaper and less prestigious universities.

According to David Lammy MP, the limited numbers of black students in the UK’s most prestigious universities will be further reduced.

Lammy also highlighted the shocking statistic that only one Black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year. Responding to Lammy, the Further Education Minister John Hayes MP acknowledged that this is “a cause for concern”, adding that he thinks it should be an issue the government should look into further.

Visit Runnymede’s Westminster blog to read more.

Runnymede will shortly be publishing a report on widening participation in higher education, which will be available to download for free from their website here.

Government decides not to Aimhigher

Aimhigher, a scheme aimed at getting more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into University has been scrapped.

Due to close in July 2011, the Aimhigher programme encompasses a wide range of activities to engage and motivate learners who have the potential to enter higher education, but may be under-achieving, undecided or lacking in confidence.

The programme particularly focuses on schoolchildren who live in areas of relative deprivation where participation in higher education is low.

As many as 2,500 schools, 300 colleges and 100 universities have been involved in the Aimhigher scheme.

The project received £136m in government funding in 2004. The figure had fallen to £78m by the time of the general election.

While the programme did not explicitly target BAME pupils, its focus on groups that are underrepresented in university and on those from disadvantaged backgrounds - among which certain BAME groups are overrepresented - implies it is likely to have been an important programme for BAME pupils in many areas.

The decision to end the Aimhigher programme came a day after demonstrations were held across the UK in opposition to the government's plans to charge students in England tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.

In announcing the termination of this programme, University Minister David Willets said social mobility had stalled under the last government. In an attempt to reignite social mobility, the government are giving universities increased responsibilities to widen participation and investing more in improving access for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. He also said that there will now be a £150m National Scholarship programme.

Others have condemned the decision, saying that the scholarship programme money would be out-weighed by cuts to the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which is paid to the poorest students in sixth forms and colleges.

Educational Maintenance Allowance discontinued

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is another progressive scheme that will be discontinued.

While not explicitly targeting BAME pupils, an earlier evaluation of the programme found that they were one of the groups that benefitted most from the allowance.

EMAs are means-tested allowances of £10, £20 and £30 paid to 16 to 19 year olds who stay in education and come from families where annual household income is below £30,810.

EMAs were introduced nationally in 2004 in order to reduce the UK’s high post-16 drop-out rate.

80 per cent of all EMA recipients receive the top rate of £30. To receive the top rate, recipients must come from families where the household income is below £20,810. From 2011/12, Education Maintenance Allowances will be replaced by an enhanced learner support fund that will be administered by schools and colleges.

EMAs are already strictly means-tested. Therefore tightening the eligibility criteria further can only harm already disadvantaged young people and is likely to impact on the participation of young BAME people in post-16 education.

Prior to the election, the Conservatives had committed to maintaining the EMA.

Government Departmental Business Plans

The government’s Departmental Business Plans, published last month, are summarised in this section. They include the Department for Education’s Business Plan, the Cabinet Office Business Plan, the BIS Business Plan, the Department for Work and Pensions Business Plan and the Ministry of Justice Business Plan.

If you have expertise in relation to any of the proposed developments or consultations, we encourage your input. If you would like to offer your input but do not have the time, please get in touch with Barbara Nea at or on 020 7902 1177.

The Department for Education’s Business Plan

The Department for Education’s Business Plan contains a draft set of indicators for the education and children's services system on which the department will be consulting. The business plan will be refreshed in the light of that consultation in April 2011. Structural Reform priorities include improving support for children, young people and families, focusing on the most disadvantaged; increasing the number of high quality schools and introducing fair funding; reforming the school curriculum and qualifications; reducing bureaucracy and improving accountability and training and developing professionals who work with children:Improve support for children, young people and families, focusing on the most disadvantaged. Actions include:

1. Increase the number of high quality schools and introduce fair funding. Actions include:

  • Review and reform provision for children with special educational needs, disabilities and mental health needs – this includes plans for a Green Paper and a mental health strategy which is not yet available.

  • Improve arrangements for protecting children from harm – including the publication of Professor Munro’s child protection review and implementation of its reforms, to which ROTA made a submission.

  • Improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of the care system – including improving practice in children’s residential homes.

  • Improve opportunities for young people – this includes proposals to support a wider range of providers to offer services to young people; establishing pilot National Citizen Service (NCS) programmes in 2011 and 2012 and preparations to take the lead responsibility from 2013 for the national roll out of NCS; proposals to support vulnerable young people by refocusing youth services on early intervention; and an independent review to advise on how to address the commercialisation and premature sexualisation of childhood.

  • Take steps to end child poverty and improve the life chances of the poorest – including a new child poverty strategy.

  • Increase support for families experiencing difficulties.

2. Increase the number of high quality schools and introduce fair funding. Actions include:

  • Increase the number of academies and new University Technical Colleges

  • Introduce new free schools

  • Introduce a new Pupil Premium

3. Reform the school curriculum and qualifications, including more robust academic and vocational qualifications up to the age of 19. Actions include:

  • Improve apprenticeships.

  • A review of vocational education.

  • Proposals for reforming qualifications, including a new English Baccalaureate.

4. Reduce bureaucracy and improve accountability. Actions include:

  • Reform and reduce the number of the department’s arm’s length bodies - including legislation to abolish the QCDA, and to reform Ofqual and Ofsted.

  • Work with Ofsted to reform the inspection regime for schools and local authority children’s services.

5. Train and develop the professionals who work with children. Actions include:

  • Reform initial teacher training and continuous professional development.

  • Improve social worker training, capacity and retention.

To find out more about these developments read our comment here.

Other initiatives include careers services and apprenticeship services. Through our representation on the education sub-group of the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group to the Department of Work and Pensions we will be seeking to inform the development these initiatives to ensure they are accessible and beneficial to BAME people and communities.

The Cabinet Office Business Plan

The Cabinet Office Business Plan states in its vision statement that ‘one of our central tasks will be building National Citizen Service (NCS) into a programme that helps build a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society’. Structural Reform priorities include building the Big Society, driving efficiency and effectiveness in government and reforming the political and constitutional system:

1. Build the Big Society. Actions include:

  • Empower communities by training a new generation of community organisers and supporting the creation of neighbourhood groups, especially in the most deprived areas – this includes the creation of the Communities First fund to support the creation of neighbourhood groups with small grants and endowments.

  • Support charities, social enterprises, small businesses and other non-governmental bodies to compete for opportunities opened up by public service reform – this includes the creation of the Big Society Bank using funds from dormant bank accounts.

  • Promote social action, including the introduction of NCS for 16 year olds – this includes the creation of an International Citizen Service; an advisory NCS coalition made up from the youth sector, business leaders and other supporters; developing plans with the Department for Education for NCS roll out from 2013; and an NCS commissioning process for 30,000 young people in summer 2012.

2. Drive efficiency and effectiveness in government. Actions include:

  • Support new forms of provision in the public sector, including mutuals, co-operatives, joint ventures and new forms of outsourcing.

  • Change the process for managing large projects – in order to maximise savings through stopping or re-scoping projects.

  • Reduce the number and cost of public bodies by abolishing or moving into government departments all public bodies except those that pass one of three tests: demonstrating that they are necessary for transparency, impartiality or because they undertake a technical function.

3. Reform the political and constitutional system. Actions include:

  • Work with Communities and Local Government (CLG) to ensure that reforms to transfer power from Westminster to local people are implemented, including options to give neighbourhoods and local authorities the powers and freedoms to lead economic growth and regeneration (alongside the Regional Growth Fund), the local government resource review and the strengthening of local democracy in the Localism Bill.

The BIS Business Plan

The BIS Business Plan includes as one of its priorities creating ‘a dynamic and efficient skills system with informed, empowered learners and employers served by responsive colleges and other providers in their areas’.

1. Build an internationally competitive skills base. Actions include:

  • Expand and improve the quality of the apprenticeships programme – this includes funding and a training offer to support the creation of an additional 75,000 adult apprenticeship places by 2014/15 and new statutory national standards to increase the quality of apprenticeships.

2. Introduce a new system of loans for further education students, in parallel with reforms to funding of higher education. Actions include:

  • Develop proposals to introduce loans for further education students.

3. Enable people to choose their own learning, and empower and inform learners so they can hold colleges and providers to account. Actions include:

  • Launch an improved careers service to help people make informed choices.

  • Put in place Lifelong Learning Accounts to encourage learners to make informed choices and take up the funding they are entitled to.

The Department for Work and Pensions Business Plan

The DWP Business Plan includes priorities such as reforming the welfare system by introducing the Universal Credit and reforming housing benefit. Of particular interest are plans to offer work experience placements of up to 8 weeks to young unemployed people, including those from disadvantaged groups who lack experience or basic skills or face other barriers to work.

The Ministry of Justice Business Plan

The Ministry of Justice Business Plan includes proposals for a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ through a Green Paper which will see rehabilitation pilots targeted specifically at young offenders. The Department also intends to reform sentencing and penalties, including sentencing young offenders.

Health inequalities

Government to commission well-being index

The nation's well-being is set to be measured so that ministers can help the nation attain "the good life", the Prime Minister has said.

David Cameron announced a £2m national consultation on how to measure Britain's well-being, arguing that economic growth is "an incomplete way of measuring a country's progress".

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will lead the debate on what matters most to people, a process which is likely to involve a mixture of questioning people and studying improvements in health, education and the local environment.

Launching the consultation, Cameron said: "From April next year we will start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving, not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life."

The Prime Minister dismissed the idea that the new measure means the government is taking an eye off what he called his government's key task: "to get the economy moving, create jobs and spread opportunity to everyone."

"We'll continue to measure GDP as we've always done," he said. "But it is high time we admitted that, taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country's progress."

The Prime Minister was joined by the National Statistician and Head of the ONS Jill Matheson who will be tasked with including questions which can gauge happiness and "life goals" on the survey already put to households.

ROTA welcomes the Coalition’s commitment to measuring well-being and its recognition that economic growth alone will not bring about happiness. We will be responding to the consultation on well-being, highlighting the key areas of life where BAME communities often face inequalities, and seeking to ensure such inequalities will be picked up in the indicators.

Ethnic monitoring: is health equality possible without it?

The collection and use of ethnic monitoring data enables health services to identify and respond to health inequalities as experienced by different social groups. Despite recent improvement, collection rates for ethnic monitoring data in the UK remain poor. The Equality Act 2010, by means of the Public Sector Equality Duty, requires public services to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to advance equality of opportunity between different groups.

A Race Equality Foundation paper argues that health equality across different social groups is not possible without improved ethnic monitoring. It concludes by stressing the need for politicians to respond positively to the need to mandate ethnic data collection across primary and secondary health care. Read Briefing 21 here.

The Race Equality Foundation is currently running an online discussion forum about the significance of the NHS White Paper’s failure to recognise mandatory ethnicity data collection as a prerequisite for health equality. To access the online discussion forum please click here.

To find out more about the NHS White Paper and its implications for BAME communities and their organisations, please see the November edition of this e-bulletin which is available here.

Liberating the NHS: Greater choice and control. A consultation on proposals

The Government's White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS sets out proposals which envisage greater choice and control over care and treatment, choice of treatment and healthcare provider.

The Department of Health has now issued a second consultation on proposed reforms – ‘an information revolution’. This consultation explains the proposals in more detail. It seeks the views of patients, the wider public, healthcare professionals and the NHS about transforming the way information is accessed, collected, analysed and used so that people are at the heart of health and adult social care services.

The consultation is open until 14 January 2011.

To read the consultation document please read here.

While ROTA will not be responding, we have been supporting the work the Afiya Trust and the Race Equality Foundation are doing on the Health White Paper.

Lord Patel calls for targeted prevention strategies to tackle BAME mental health disproportionality

Lord Patel of Bradford highlighted this week the disproportionate numbers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people suffering from mental health issues. Speaking in a House of Lords debate, the crossbench peer called on the government to introduce targeted prevention strategies in order “to continue the work of the previous government”.

Responding, Earl Howe announced that the government will be publishing a new mental health strategy in “a few weeks time” following the end of the Labour Government’s “Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care” programme in January of this year. He added that “a tremendous amount of information came out of it”, stating that this will help inform the government’s new strategy.

ROTA has continued to raise the following points made in our response to the previous government’s consultation on its latest mental health strategy launched earlier this year:

  • There is a need to address the detrimental impact certain areas of government policy have on the mental health of BAME communities, in particular, criminal justice. In terms of mental health issues, BAME women fare even worse than BAME men and white British women in the criminal justice system.

  • The unique and vital role the BAME sector plays in addressing the mental health issues faced by many BAME people should be acknowledged.

  • The barriers those from many BAME communities face in accessing appropriate community-based mental health services needs to be addressed. These barriers mean that certain BAME people often follow more coercive and complex pathways to the mental health system, including higher rates of referral from the criminal justice system.

  • Government’s mental health strategy should take forward the work under ‘Delivering race equality in mental health care: An action plan’ from 2005 until 2010. Despite improvements made under this programme, BAME communities continue to face acute inequalities in mental health.

ROTA’s response to the previous government’s mental health strategy, ‘New Horizons: Towards a shared vision for mental health’ can be read here.

The Department of Health’s new webpages about the government’s approach to mental health can be read here.

The King's Fund and the Centre for Mental Health, Mental health and the productivity challenge: Improving quality and value for money, demonstrates there is scope not only for mental health services to improve their own productivity but also to support productivity improvements in other areas of the NHS.


Theresa May says “equality has become a dirty word”, announces scrapping of socio-economic duty

In her benchmark equalities speech, Theresa May, Home Secretary announced that the Government will scrap the socio-economic duty of the Equality Act 2010. Labelling it a tick-box exercise, May attacked the clause as symbolic of previous governments’ penchant for “political correctness”. She also had a few choice words for any legislation that “dictates how people behave” and repeats the logic of racism by treating people as members of groups instead of individuals.

The duty requires key public bodies, when taking strategic decisions, to have due regard to the need to reduce the inequalities of outcome that result from socio-economic disadvantage

ROTA understands that any part of the Equality Act cannot be officially removed without going through Parliament. We will be monitoring further discussions on the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that all information is accessible, open and transparent.

In place of equality, May focused on the theme of fairness, despite later conceding that “I recognise that fairness is a word that many people will feel is not as specific as equality.”

Voice4Change England responded to The Guardian’s coverage of May’s speech in writing to the Editor to highlight why equality was an important and enduring concept and was essentially ratified by law, unlike fairness.

Read Voice4Change England’s response

Read the Government Equalities Office press notice

Read the full text of speech

Watch a live recording of the speech


The Equality Strategy - Building a Fairer Britain

On 2nd December, the government launched its strategy to tackle inequality. The Equality Strategy, Building a Fairer Britain, sets out the Coalition Government’s plans for a different approach to equalities. It highlights the two main principles of equality as:

  • Equal treatment

  • Equal opportunity

The strategy builds on the Equality Act passed in October 2010 and the importance of accountability and transparency. It aims to reduce bureaucracy and shift the focus on equality outcomes in the workplace.

The Strategy makes it clear that the Equality Act is an important element of promoting equality in regard to holding the public sector accountable with the implementation of the Public Sector Equality Duty. It confirms that from April 2011, employers will be able to use the positive action ‘tie- breaker’ clause in the Equality Act to encourage recruitment and promotion of those from ethnic backgrounds, but only where they are of equal merit with other candidates. However, the government stresses that positive discrimination is illegal. The strategy also refers to the Equality Duty to foster good relations as a tool for tackling discrimination in the workplace. Under the strategy, the government has scrapped the previous government’s plans to impose the socio-economic duty on public bodies to actively tackle social inequalities.

Some of the changes of interest to BAME groups are:

  • Male African Caribbean pupils are recognised as being at greater risk of exclusion. Therefore the government will support research to identify the cause of pupil exclusions from these backgrounds. There are plans to assist children from the poorest backgrounds by increasing funding for disadvantaged 2 year olds from 2013, providing increased funding to 2.5 billion by 2014 – 2015 for pupils from the poorest backgrounds, and additional funding to the Pupil Premium. These changes are likely to have a positive impact for pupils from BAME backgrounds which are statistically proven to have lower rates of achievement. National organisations working with deprived children such as Sure Start and National Childbirth Trust will refocus on meeting the needs of those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • The government intends to move away from the 'government knows best’ approach. It now seeks to encourage more people to participate in public life, and to allow the voluntary sector to play a more active role in the public sector. This means that faith groups, local community groups, charities and civic organisations will become more involved in delivering public services such as offering personal budgets to more people. Other suggestions in the strategy are to introduce community programmes to enable young people to become more involved in their local communities.

  • One significant change for BAME groups under the new strategy is the way in which the government handles criminal records on the National DNA database. At present, the records on the database show a disproportionate number of young black men as compared to the general population, and there are plans to reduce the number of those who have not been convicted.

ROTA welcomes many of the government’s plans to tackle inequality, including the creation of an inter- ministerial group which will focus on inequality issues and raise awareness across government. However, it remains to be seen how the government plans to include BAME groups, which have an important role to play in promoting equality.

ROTA responds to Specific Duties Consultation

This month, we submitted our response to the Specific Duties Consultation on behalf of the Winning the Race Coalition. While the Public Sector Equality Duty is an improvement on the existing general duties, our response highlights a number of unresolved issues. In particular, the response emphasises the importance of equality impact assessments in enabling citizens to genuinely hold public authorities to account. It also raises concerns over requirements to allow a public authority to set just one or two equality objectives. By creating prioritised groups and communities, this requirement may pit equality strands or issues relevant to different equality characteristics against one another. Read more here.

Commission launches starter kit to the new Equality Act

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched an online starter kit to help ensure that the private, public and voluntary sectors understand their obligations under the new Equality Act. The starter kit features nine bite-size learning modules that set out the essential points of the legislation. Organisations can encourage their employees to work through the modules or can use it as a starting point for their own in-house training.

Each downloadable module takes less than 10 minutes to complete and no more than an hour to finish all nine sections. It shows how the Act applies to managing a team; personnel changes; flexible working and time off for employers; and an overview of the law; strategy and planning; and service delivery for service providers.

The learning modules are one element of the Commission’s starter kit for organisations on the new Equality Act. More detailed guidance to the new Equality Act is being rolled out by the Commission. The statutory guidance (“Codes of Practice”) is for legal professionals and can be referred to in legal cases; other guidance (“non-statutory guidance”) is aimed at people who want to know how the law applies in different settings.

Both the starter kit and guidance are available to download from the Commission’s website.

Enforcement of unreasonable stop and search

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has written to Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Constabulary informing them of possible enforcement action for their disproportionate use of stop and search powers.

The Commission considers that Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Constabulary have failed to carry out any proper equality impact assessments of policies in relation to the use of stop and search powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

This follows the publication earlier this year of the Commission’s report, ‘Stop and Think’, which found that some police forces are using stop and search powers in a way that is disproportionate and possibly discriminatory.

Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Constabulary were among five police forces contacted by the Commission in May 2010, having demonstrated significant and persistent race differences in their use of stop and search. As a result, the Commission requested detailed information from each force on their use of stop and search.

After considering the information, the Commission has now decided to take action against Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Constabulary because they could not adequately justify the disproportionate impact of their stop and search powers, nor have they taken the proper steps to consider whether their policies are proportionate in the light of the available data.

The three other police forces contacted were the Metropolitan Police, Dorset Police and the West Midlands Police. The Metropolitan Police and Dorset Police have since embarked on the National Police Improvement Agency’s ‘Next Steps’ programme, designed to help overcome any potential discriminatory stop and search actions. However, the Commission continues to have concerns over their use of stop and search and will monitor the situation. The Commission will be seeking additional information from the West Midlands Police before deciding on what further steps are necessary.

EHRC to assess legality of spending review

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has started a process to carry out a formal, independent assessment of the extent to which the Treasury has met its legal obligations to consider the impact on protected groups of decisions contained in the Spending Review.

The assessment is to be conducted under powers granted to the Commission under section 31 of the 2006 Equality Act.

Under the public sector equality duties, covering race, gender and disability, the Treasury, like all public bodies, has a legal duty to pay 'due regard' to equality and consider any disproportionate impact on protected groups when making decisions, including decisions about the budget. Where decisions are found to have a disproportionate impact on a particular group protected by the legislation, public bodies must consider what actions can be taken to avoid, mitigate or justify that impact.

The Commission’s role is to ensure that the Treasury has complied with its legal obligations; the start of this assessment should not be taken as an indication that the Treasury has not done so. The assessment is an opportunity for the Commission to continue its ongoing constructive work with the Treasury to evaluate what steps it has undertaken to comply with the legislation and identify any potential opportunities for improvement. This process will enable lessons to be learnt across Government to improve outcomes for protected groups by putting fairness and transparency at the heart of difficult decisions.

In practical terms, the assessment will be governed by terms of reference, which will be published shortly after consultation with HMT, as required by the 2006 Act. As the assessment unfolds, the Commission will have access to all the relevant information it needs to make a conclusive assessment. Once the assessment is complete, the Commission will report its findings and may make recommendations. If the assessment finds a breach, the Commission can serve a compliance notice, or enter into a binding agreement with the Treasury for it to take steps to avoid further breaches. If a public authority such as the Treasury fails to comply with a compliance notice or the binding agreement, the Commission can apply to a court for an order compelling them to comply.

The Commission aims to publish its final report next Summer.

Female Voice in Violence

Government outlines its approach to Violence Against Women and Girls

The government has released its strategic narrative on how it plans to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls. While the document makes some financial commitments to service provision, and explicitly states the need to support girls who experience violence, the needs of women and girls affected by gang and serious youth violence are not acknowledged.

Key gaps include the lack of national services, in schools or local authorities, for girls who are victims of serious violence. ROTA believes that the gains in commitment laid out in the document are tempered by the failure to identify serious youth violence as a violence against girls issue.

Key Gaps:

  1. MARAC, ISVA and IDVA services target adult victims and yet there are not additional commitments made to protecting girls who are victims of serious violence

  2. Commitments made to address consent in school assumes that this is information that will be used in later life, rather than acknowledging that some young people will be victims of non-consensual or coercive sex in the present

  3. The document draws reference to existing guidance on safeguarding, stating that ‘there is guidance for schools to help them protect and support pupils who are at risk of violence’; the documents they reference do not provide sufficient support to protect girls who are at risk of serious youth violence or gang-related sexual violence

While there are gains in a commitment to consider lowering the age of definition for domestic violence, and offering age-appropriate support to younger victims, these gains are made in a context which fails to identify serious youth violence as a violence against girls issue. Given that the government envisions setting a strategic direction for local authorities, the omission in the area of serious youth violence is concerning. As ROTA has evidenced, violence against women organisations are working with gang-affected females in and outside of refuge provision. This strategic approach places such services at risk. As a consequence it leaves vulnerable girls without support.

ROTA will be raising these concerns with central government departments ahead of the launch of our National FVV report in March 2011. We hope these conversations will inform the equality impact assessment of the strategy and the detailed action plan that is forthcoming, in order to fill gaps and ensure women and girls affected by gang and serious youth violence are not forgotten For further information on ROTA’s Female Voice in Violence project please contact

We need to involve girls in decisions about their health

Senior Policy Officer Carlene Firmin argues that for young girls, the road to prison is filled with unmet needs. These include mental illness – half of which starts by age 16 – school exclusions, crime, sexually transmitted infections, obesity and binge drinking. The recent Public Health White Paper wants to solve this by giving local authorities more influence over priorities. But without engaging young girls in the decision-making process, we will continue to fund public services that fail to improve their health or protect them from harm. Read more here.

Other national news

DWP research report: the feasibility of constructing a race equality index

The National Employment Panel recommended that the Government should publish baseline information, in the form of a Race Equality Index, to understand in detail how pro-active businesses are in promoting race equality in recruitment and promotion. The index would be used to monitor progress by employers over time.

This Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) report looks at the feasibility of constructing a Race Equality Index, by exploring the existing sources of evidence which might be used and any issues with using these sources. The following sources were found to be the most useful. The Citizenship Survey, commissioned by CLG, provides information on ethnic minorities’ experiences of job refusals and unfair treatment in promotion and these can be compared to the Great Britain labour force. Unfortunately, the survey does not distinguish between experiences in the private sector and the public sector.

The Workplace Employment Relations Survey, commissioned by the Business, Innovation and Skills Department, measures the extent to which private sector workplaces adopt practices to promote good equal opportunities practices and could be used in an index. It is carried out intermittently, so could not contribute to an annual index.

The Labour Force Survey, a quarterly survey of the GB labour force, could be used to monitor the position of ethnic minorities within the labour force. This research suggests that the following outcome measures are used:

  • The under representation of ethnic minorities in private sector employment

  • The under representation of ethnic minorities in managerial occupations

  • The differentials in pay between ethnic minorities and the Great Britain labour force

The report concludes that it would be possible to construct a Race Equality Index based on these three outcome measures from the Labour Force Survey and suggests assigning equal weight to each of these measures. The findings will be considered by the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group to the Department of Work and Pensions, of which ROTA is a member.

Theresa May faces questions from the APPG on Race and Community
(Source Runnymede Westminster blog)

In October, our Chief Executive Elizabeth Henry quizzed the Home Secretary and Equalities Minister, Theresa May MP, about the Coalition’s approach to race equality in a joint meeting between the All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) on Race and Community and Equalities. May also faced questions from MPs and other members of the public on issues including stop and search, gypsies and travellers, the Equality Act and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Of particular note, May shed more light on the fate of the EHRC following the government’s recent quango review which announced that the work of the body will be significantly reduced. Stating that the EHRC will be “radically reformed”, she announced that the government is looking at how some of its functions can be filled by the Big Society.

MPs David Lammy (Labour) and Richard Fuller (Conservative) focused on criminal justice, asking questions on stop and search and incarceration rates respectively. May did not answer Lammy’s question on whether a reduction of monitoring will lead to even higher disporportionality of Black and Asian people stopped and searched. However, May responded to Fuller’s question on the over-representation of Black men in the UK prison system by saying that a “holistic approach” is needed in dealing with the problem which focuses on sentencing, but also on opportunities for young people.

It is worth highlighting however that despite questioning from attendees on the issue, May tended not focus on race equality issues unless pushed. In her opening address to the group, May highlighted the work the government is undertaking in relation to other equality strands – such as gender and LGBT issues – but said nothing on its plans on race. It may be that the issue is not a priority for the government or – as May said in response to a question from Race on the Agenda – it may become more of a priority in the future. However given the stark racial inequalities that exist in the UK today, if now is not the time prioritise race equality, when is?

Runnymede acts as Secretariat for the APPG on Race and Community. For more information on the group, as well as a podcast of last week’s event, visit our APPG webpage.

The latest Runnymede Bulletin on BAME women and their organisations

Runnymede’s latest bulletin, which focuses on BAME women and their organisations is now available. Articles and topics covered include: fact-rich piece looking at minority ethnic women and the labour market; the emergence of a more inclusive brand of feminism; young black girls and school exclusions; tales of Bangladeshi migrants over the past six decades; how do two strands of discrimination combine to affect minority ethnic women? Read the bulletin here.

MiNet’s latest news
MiNet has disseminated its latest bulletin, which includes news from across London of interest to BAME organisations as well as information about funding sources, events and other resources. To receive the newsletter you will need to become a member of MiNet. You can find out more about MiNet and join for free here.

Other London news

London Councils Commissioning Programme reduced dramatically

This week London Councils voted to cut funding for over 200 groups working with London’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents. Organisations placed in Category’s B and C will lose funds in June.

This cut will reduce the current London Boroughs Grant Scheme from £26.4 million to a core scheme of £9.875 million – a cut of £16.875 million, or 63.5%. Borough Leaders will be free to use the saved funds for any purpose they want.

ROTA appreciates the recognition by London Councils that supporting historically excluded groups goes beyond borough boundaries. Thus the decision by London Councils to continue funding the work of Category A organisations until 2012 is most welcome. This means that some voluntary and community sector organisations will be able to continue providing invaluable support to disadvantaged communities across London.

Yet an alphabet is long….. Indeed, beside the Category As are the Bs and Cs. These are the ones set to lose out from the simultaneous decision to stop funding a number of frontline organisations in July 2011.

ROTA supports the work of many of these organisations. They provide immeasurable support to local communities and because of this, they are often more vulnerable to the prevailing uncertainty of the present climate. Without the dedicated work of organisations like the nia project, for example, young women and girls affected by violence will be isolated. And what of their future?

Elizabeth Henry, ROTA CEO said:

“Working for change and making a difference where it matters most is a long and pressing task. Big Society is supposed to speed up this process and include us all in the change.

Yet withdrawing the money from frontline organisations who provide essential grass roots services where otherwise there are none, shows little consideration for those at the margins, ignored and most often invisible.

At ROTA we are deeply concerned that these cuts will result in a disproportionate negative impact on BAME communities. London Councils funding has been the backbone for many disadvantaged BAME communities as mainstream services have been unaware of, or lacking in the expertise, to address their needs.”

Mayor in drive to create over 20,000 apprenticeships in London

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and his 'Apprenticeship' Ambassador Tim Campbell are personally writing to 100 of the capital's top companies urging them to help Londoners into work and boost the economy by creating more than 20,000 new apprenticeships.

The jointly signed letter is already being sent to 50 of London's largest businesses and 50 small and medium sized employers in the business, financial and creative sectors, as part of a huge drive to bolster apprenticeship levels in the capital. The campaign is particularly focused on companies in sectors not traditionally linked to apprenticeships, to highlight the huge range of jobs in which you can now find apprentices - including organisations like the Football Association and music giant Sony.

This drive coincides with the launch next week of the National Apprenticeship Service's London campaign, backed by the Mayor, which is contacting 54,000 businesses across the city to encourage them to take on apprentices.

The Mayor of London and National Apprenticeship Service are working together on the London Apprenticeships Campaign to increase the number of Apprenticeship places in this academic year (2010-11).

London has 14 per cent of the UK's population but only provides five per cent of the annual total of new apprenticeships.

Research has shown that young people from certain BAME groups who are over-represented among those who are NEET (not in employment, education or training) face particular barriers in engaging in and completing apprenticeships. Apprentices from BAME backgrounds are particularly under-represented in traditional craft-based sectors, and in some more modern sectors, such as customer service and hospitality.

Through our representation on the education sub-group of the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group to the Department of Work and Pensions we will be seeking to ensure barriers to the apprenticeships opportunities currently being offered and promoted by the Mayor are removed.

ROTA services

ROTA can provide workshops, advice and guidance on any of our policy areas – education, health, criminal justice and the Equality Act. If you have a question on anything from the Equality Act 2010 to the impact of the Health White Paper, we are happy to come to your organisation and provide one-to-one sessions. For more information, please contact Ryan Mahan on or 020 7902 1949.


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

Twitter: @raceontheagenda




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 third sector. Find out more about MiNet here.