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ISSUE 46 - February 2011
Policy E-Newsletter


Proactive approaches to influencing educational reforms

Equality Act 2010 specific duties regulations released

Female Voice in Violence national report set to launch on 22 March

ROTA Annual General Meeting 2009-11


Children, young people and schools

Proactive approaches to influencing educational reforms

Recent educational reforms emphasise the need to improve standards in schools and narrow the attainment gap between wealthier and poorer students. High on expectations, the schools white paper and the Education Bill are light on detail, especially in reference to BAME populations.

This provides communities with the opportunity to influence the Education Bill and other reforms, expressing how it can be better suited to the needs of BAME people.

Nowhere was this opportunity more evident than at our Educational reforms: challenges and opportunities for supplementary schools event hosted with National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education at continYou. We heard inspirational stories from successful supplementary schools, OYA! and Shpresa, alongside an in-depth analysis of educational reforms by Debbie Weekes-Bernard of Runnymede Trust.

More information to follow on our website in the coming days here.

Engage in our work on educational reforms

ROTA will be working with Runnymede Trust and others to seek to influence the Education Bill as it passes through parliament, highlighting the concerns we expressed in our response to the White Paper.

If you would like to engage in our work on the educational reforms, please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer on 020 7902 1177 or barbara@rota.org.uk.

We would be happy to come to your organisation and explain the reforms in depth, as well as its potential implications on BAME pupils.

Free schools and academies: the government’s new vision for education, 20 March

See ROTA’s CEO, Dr Elizabeth Henry, speak about the proposed educational reforms and their implications for BAME communities at this free half day seminar in Croydon. Find out more here.

The new schools white paper is launched

In November, the education secretary announced a wide-ranging series of reforms with the new schools white paper, The Importance of Teaching.

We responded welcoming the paper’s strong emphasis on the improvement of standards in schools and narrowing the attainment gap between wealthier and poorer pupils. We were pleased with the requirement it placed on Local Authorities to provide full-time educational provision for all pupils who are not attending mainstream education. However, we expressed deep concerns with its lack of emphasis on race equality and the duties schools should adhere to in relation to the Equality Act 2010. Additional sources of concern were:

  • proposals relating to behaviour and discipline exhibited in detention, searching and exclusion

  • the expansion of free schools and academies, without full consideration of the risks that this entails

  • the lack of clarity about where funds for the Pupil Premium are coming from and how it will be allocated

  • the lack of clarity about accountability

  • the overemphasis on academic achievement at the expense of other important aspects of schooling including personal, social, health, economic and citizenship education and vocational training.

Read about the likely impact of the reforms in our latest briefing here.

Education Bill introduced to Parliament

On 27 January, the Education Bill, which is available here, was published and introduced in parliament. The provisions included in the bill are similar to those outlined in the white paper. ROTA will be working with Runnymede Trust and others to seek to influence the Bill as it passes through Parliament, highlighting the concerns we expressed in our response to the White Paper.

If you would like to engage in our work on the educational reforms, please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer on 020 7902 1177 or barbara@rota.org.uk. We would be happy to come to your organisation and explain the reforms in depth, as well as its potential implications on BAME pupils.

Equality Act 2010

Equality Act 2010 specific duties regulations released

The government has released the draft specific duties regulations. These are the specific ways in which public authorities will implement the Public Sector Equality Duty when it comes into force on the 6th April 2011. It was consulted on in the autumn and will be laid before parliament for 40 days before coming into force.

A summary on the requirements for public authorities is below.

A public authority must at least once a year publish:

  • information on the effects of its policies on different groups (employees and those receiving services

  • analysis it undertook to ensure that future policies would eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and promote good relations

  • details of information used in the analysis

  • details of groups undertaken in order to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and promote good relations

Additionally the public authority must set out:

  • equality objectives which would help meet the requirements to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and promote good relations

  • details of engagement it undertook to set the objectives

  • measurable objectives it established

Public Authorities must publish information by 31st July 2011 and set their first set of objectives by April 2012. You can view the Government Equalities Offices consultation report and the draft regulations here.

The Government appears to have taken note of some of the concerns raised by ROTA and other equality groups:

  • The new regulations require ’sufficient’ information to be published to show compliance with the PSED. This means that public authorities cannot just publish basic information, but equally not all information is required to be published.

  • There is a requirement to publish ‘information on the effect polices and practices have had on persons who share protected characteristics’ rather than progress against equality objectives.

  • The requirement to publish impact assessments has been removed and replaced with a requirement to publish ‘evidence of analysis to establish whether its policies and practices would further, or had furthered, [The PSED]’. The aim is for analysis to be more substantive and less process-driven. It recognises the need for context and narrative, not just masses of data.

  • The terms of ‘one or more’ has been removed from the requirement to set equality objectives to ensure that there is not a minimum standard of a single objective.

  • Also, there is an additional requirement to publish details of ‘engagement with interested persons when setting equality objectives.

ROTA believes these are improvements and you can view our response to the original consultation here.

It is still unclear how effective greater transparency is going to be in an environment where many groups and organisations have fewer resources to analyse masses of information. As these new regulations come into force, the sector will need to consider what resources it requires to fully hold public authorities to account.

Putting the how in know-how: ROTA training on the Equality Act 2010

Are you wondering how the new Equality Act 2010, which comes into force on 6 April 2011, is different from previous forms of legislation? Are you interested in learning how to practically use the act to hold public authorities to account?

ROTA is offering training for a select number of organisations so that they can teach their members to use the Equality Act 2010. This will include what new forms of discrimination there are, how to use the Public Sector Equality Duty and what new provisions will come into force.

The training will be delivered on 29 and 30 March. To learn more or register, visit our events webpage here.

If you have any questions please contact Ewan Kennedy at ewan@.org.uk.

EHRC non-Statutory Guidance on Public Sector Equality Duty

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published the guidance for public authorities and on the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). These guides provide greater detail on how to implement both the main PSED and the specific duties which will meet that duty. The guides are non-statutory, which means they are not laws and do not have to be considered by courts. The hope is that they will provide greater information on how the duty should be implemented.

You can view the section of new guides here.

These guides will be a source of information for the BAME sector on what public authorities should be doing from April 2011 to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity.

The statutory codes of practice in the PSED, which have to be agreed by Parliament and considered by the courts, will be released in the summer of 2011.

Female Voice in Violence

Female Voice in Violence national report set to launch on 22 March

Criminal gangs and serious youth violence continue to affect women and girls across the country. ROTA’s national Female Voice in Violence project widened the scope of the London research to assess the similarities and differences in the experiences of gang-affected women and girls in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and London. The startling findings are further proof that a coordinated national and local response is long overdue.

Pre-order your free copy from Ryan Mahan, ryan@rota.org.uk.

Accolades and adieus for Senior Policy Officer Carlene Firmin

Carlene Firmin, the policy officer who brought us ROTA’s landmark Building Bridges and Female Voice in Violence research projects, has been appointed Assistant Director of Policy and Research (Youth Justice and Child Exploitation) at Barnardo’s.

ROTA CEO Elizabeth Henry said: “Carlene has worked at ROTA for more than 5 years. During this time we have had the privilege of supporting her inevitable growth and development…Carlene is a credit to not only the women and girls she so fearlessly represents, but to women everywhere.”

Carlene is also the youngest black woman to receive an MBE. Read more here.

Health inequalities

Minister announces re-shaping of mental health strategy

On 2 February the Department of Health launched its new cross government mental health strategy, ‘No Health without Mental Health.

We are pleased that the Government has launched a strategy which sets out its plans for improving mental health well-being in the UK. Mental health is an issue that disproportionately impacts on BAME people. ROTA’s work with MiNet has found an increase in mental health issues among London’s BAME communities, linked with the impact of the recession. This in turn is leading to greater pressure on mental health services, particularly those being delivered by BAME organisations.

We welcome the strategy’s focus on early intervention among young people and public mental health in the round. We especially welcome the pledge to develop diversion services in police stations and courts across England. Too many young BAME people and adults end up in the justice system because of a lack of effective support.

We are however disappointed by the limited acknowledgement of inequalities BAME communities face in relation to mental health and the omission of measures within the strategy to address it. It is a lost opportunity to take forward the work of the Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care programme, which was launched in 2005 following the inquiry into the death of David Bennett, an African-Caribbean patient who died in 1998 in a medium secure psychiatric unit after being restrained by staff.

Sadly, despite the programme’s work highlighting the acute inequalities BAME people face in relation to mental health, much evidence indicates that insufficient progress has been made in tackling these inequalities.

ROTA’s response to the previous government’s mental health strategy, ‘New Horizons: Towards a shared vision for mental health’ can be read here. Many of its concerns and recommendations remain relevant to the current strategy.

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

Local emphasis in Public Health White Paper overlooks local realities

In November the Department for Health announced a consultation on ‘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.

We welcome 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 have the following key concerns, however, on which we will be seeking the views of the BAME sector and highlighting solutions to in our response:

  • The lack of clarity about Marmot’s understanding of health inequalities in relation to BAME and other equality groups. While the 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 over-represented 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 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.

Over the month, with our partner, the Afiya Trust we will be seeking your views on the white paper in formulating a solutions-focused response to the Paper. A briefing will be available soon on our website.

Health and Social Care Bill

The Public Health White Paper was followed by the publication of the Health and Social Care Bill, introduced to Parliament on 19 January. The King’s Fund have produced a briefing on the Bill which is available here.

National news

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

New police reform legislation promises to fundamentally change the processes of accountability for the police.

Changes in the Home Office’s Police and Social Responsibility Bill include the introduction of directly elected police commissioners, an overhaul of licensing laws, a revised approach to the misuse of substances and new policing of protests in central London.

The Home Office describes the bill as doing the following.

  • making the police service more accountable to local people by replacing police authorities with directly elected police and crime commissioners (to be introduced from May 2012)

  • overhauling the Licensing Act to give more powers to local authorities and police to tackle any premises that are causing problems, doubling the maximum fine for persistent underage sales and permitting local authorities to charge more for late-night licences (to contribute towards the cost of policing the late-night economy)

  • introducing a system of temporary bans for new psychoactive substances, so-called 'legal highs', whilst the health issues are considered by independent experts, to ensure our legislative process can respond quickly to emerging harmful substances

  • restoring the right to non-violent protest around Parliament whilst ensuring that Parliament Square remains accessible to all by repealing sections 132-138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005 and prohibiting encampments and other disruptive activity on Parliament Square

  • amending the process for issuing private arrest warrants for universal jurisdiction offences to ensure that they are issued only where there is a reasonable prospect of successful prosecution.

You can view the Bill and the impact assessments and associated documents here.

‘Gang Injunctions’ introduced

The introduction of powers to break down gang culture may lead to disproportional use of civil court orders, ‘gang injunctions’, against BAME groups, ROTA warns. Positive provisions to support services that help people out of gangs are also being tabled.

On 31st January 2011 the government brought into force powers to be used by local authorities and police against ’gangs’.

These could include barring individuals from:

  • entering a certain geographical area

  • being in public with a particular species of animal, for example a dog, which had previously been used as a weapon

  • wearing certain 'gang colours' in public

Individuals will also be required to participate in positive activities such as being mentored.

Civil applications, such as the new court orders, require a lower standard of evidence than criminal courts, even though a breach of an order can lead to up to 2 years imprisonment. This lower standard of evidence can include police intelligence and hearsay, which could potentially lead to disproportional use of the injunctions against BAME groups.

The positive provisions to help support people out of gangs provide a potential role for the BAME-led civil society organisations working in this area. These organisations can both provide services and ensure that the services provided to those on injunctions are suitable and appropriate.

You can view the ROTA and Women’s Resource Centre response to the consultation on the Equality Impact Assessment of these injunctions here.

Localism Bill

The Localism Bill is the legislation to give local councils more freedom in how they deliver services, amend housing requirements and change planning conditions to give more power to communities. There are major implications for BAME communities and equality in the bill. You can find a copy of the bill here.

The bill started its House of Commons committee stage on 25th January 2010 and will be receiving written evidence until 10th March. Anyone can submit evidence.

ROTA is concerned that the freedoms granted to councils, while providing potential for innovation, may lead to marginalised groups being detrimentally affected by majority priorities. For example with greater community permission required for planning applications, site provision for Gypsies and Travellers could face even greater opposition.

It is also a concern that to give councils greater freedom, the Secretary of State would be able to appeal and revoke any legislation that restricts this freedom. While greater local autonomy is welcomed for councils, it is a great concern that a government minister could override restrictions of equalities legislation. We will be identifying this in evidence.

You can find out about submitting evidence here.

Parliamentary Reform and Constituencies Bill affects BAME voters

The Parliamentary Reform and Constituencies Bill has made very slow progress through the House of Lords. The bill aims to create referendum to change the voting system in the UK, to alter the size of constituencies and to reduce the number of MPs. This will affect BAME voter representation.

The review of constituencies will standardise the size of constituencies to around 76,000 people based on the number of registered voters. IPSO/ Mori conducted field work in July of 2009 which suggested that 30% of ethnic minority voters are not registered compared to 14% of unregistered white voters. Therefore, any count based on registered voters will significantly under-represent the BAME communities in these new constituencies.

This means that the review presently planned could significantly under count the BAME people in the new constituencies. Operation Black Vote will be coordinating a letter campaign to raise these issues with MPs and the Boundary Commission over the next few weeks.

London news

London Councils Grants review: Outcome of the judicial 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 28 January, this review concluded with the decision made by London Council Leaders on 14 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.

What happens next?

The Judge ordered London Councils to undertake a lawful process of reconsideration in accordance with equalities legislation and said that no funding agreement should be terminated until three months after the conclusion of the lawful consideration process.

In a letter to the Leaders committee on 1 February, Chair of London Councils Grants Committee, Councillor Steve Bullock informed the leaders committee that they would seek to undertake the Equality Impact Assessment before 31 March so that the budget decided on for the remaining years of the current commission would not be affected. He advised, however, that there is a likelihood the equality impact assessments could take longer than that, and that organisations they had decided to cut funding to might need additional funding.

What we think?

We welcome, through this Review, the acknowledgment of the impact of this important fund on London’s most disadvantaged communities. We are disappointed that the decision to cut the fund from £28.4 to £17.8 million remains unaffected however, before the full equalities impact has been considered. We are also disappointed, that despite this outcome of the Judicial Review, Councillor Bullock’s to the Council Leaders signals an intention to, again, rush through a process of deciding how to cut funds, and to maintain the cuts at the same level.

We will continue to engage in the work of VSF, who have been leading a campaign around this issue and await to see what the next steps to be taken are. We will also continue to work with BAME organisations likely to be significantly affected by the cuts.

Read ROTA’s response to the consultation on London Councils Grants Review here.

Read Pierce Glynn’s press release about the outcome of the Judicial review here.

Latest issue of the Afiya Trust’s quarterly magazine

Read the latest issue of one of our sister organisations, The Afiya Trust’s quarterly magazine on BAME health and social care here.

Public health commissioning and the VCS

How can you engage commissioners and provide voluntary and community sector Public Health services in the new NHS landscape?

The Regional Public Health Group and NHS London have commissioned LVSC, in partnership with 3SA, the London voluntary and community sector (VCS) policy forum, to develop a database of the VCS organisations in London which currently provide public health services.

This will ensure that during and after transition from Primary Care Trust to GP commissioning, and as local Health and Wellbeing Boards are developed, London’s GPs and Boroughs are supported to commission appropriate, evidence based and locally led services. The project will support London’s VCS providers, reflecting the Government’s vision of a ‘Big Society.’

This is a pilot project that will focus on VCS alcohol services (secondary, primary or preventative) initially.

It will result in a database of London’s VCS providers, and an evidence base for the services they provide. London’s new GP and local authority public health commissioners will be enabled to better understand and work with these organisations. It will also help commissioners to better address needs by identifying gaps in services and new development opportunities for London VCS organisations.

If you are a VCS organisation and provide alcohol services in London, at either a secondary or primary care level, or as a preventative measure, do get in touch with LVSC! They will be working in partnership with other VCS organisations to arrange events to publicise and populate the database and to offer one-to-one support to groups who want to be included.

If you work with or support organisations that provide alcohol services or work to prevent excessive alcohol consumption, please let them know about this project.

Contact Sandra van der Feen, Research & Capacity Building Development Officer, for more information on 0203 349 8936. Email: sandra@lvsc.org.uk

MiNet’s latest news

Community Budgets and Families with Complex Needs On 16th March, Local Government Leadership, London Civic Forum and MiNet, will be holding a joint event to look at Community Budgets. From April 2013, all local authorities will be operating a community budget system, with Community Budgets already in operation across several London authorities. This event will look at the concept of Community Budgets, look at how BAME organisations have been involved and how priorities are set. Further details will be available in the coming weeks. To register to attend contact Anthony@minet.uk.net.


ROTA Annual General Meeting 2009-10

15 March 2011, 16:30-18:30

Race on the Agenda hereby gives notice to its members that our Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the financial year 2009/10 is scheduled to take place on 15 March 2011 at The King's Fund, 11-13 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0AN.

Registration will be from 4.30pm and the formal AGM will begin at 5pm till 6pm.

For the formal business agenda, how to book or to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf, 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.

Making the Case for London’s Children and Young People

16 March 2011, 9:30-12:30 (followed by lunch)

AFRUCA, MiNet and London Civic Forum have come together to organise this event to look at issues for children and young people. Commissioners, funders and voluntary organisations will be provided with an opportunity to discuss the findings of mapping exercises across London.

Speakers at the event will include:

  • Professor Tony Travers, London School of Economics

  • Sarah Crowther, Refugees in Effective Active Partnership (REAP)

  • Thanos Morphitis, Director of Strategy and Commissioning - Children's Services, Islington

  • Lord Hodgson, Chair of a Government "Cut Red Tape" Taskforce

  • Kay Bell, London Regional Safeguarding Children Adviser, London Safeguarding Children Board

In December 2010, MiNet and AFRUCA commenced a mapping project to look at the impact of the recession on London’s BAME children and young people. The mapping has included a survey, focus groups looking at various emerging problem, and a Freedom of Information request to London’s local authorities to look at cases of child abuse. This event will allow discussion around the interim findings whilst providing an opportunity for further thoughts to be shared.

The event will be held at Coin Street, 16th March, arrival from 09:30. We hope you can join us. Get further details and register for the event here.

Community Budgets, the Voluntary Sector and Families with Multiple Needs

16th March, 13:45-16:30

A selection of London boroughs will continue the role out of Community Budgets. MiNet and partners are holding a free event for the voluntary and community sector to get to grips with Community Budgets and work out what it means for them. We will feature the thinking behind Community Budgets and its future implementation, the potential impact on how services are designed and delivered in London and how the community and voluntary sector could work with LAs and community budgets.

Speakers include will include:

  • Kevin Sheehan, Programme Lead, Head of Strategy, LB Lewisham (invited)

  • Joe Simpson, Director of Politics & Partnerships, Local Government Leadership

  • Nero Ughwujabo, Director of Croydon BME Forum

  • Becky Nixon, Deputy Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Leicestershire

The event will be held at Coin Street, 16th March, arrival from 13:45. We hope you can join us. Get further details and register for the event 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 third sector. Find out more about MiNet here.