February 2010    Issue 36

Welcome to the February edition of ROTA's newsletter!

The months of December and January have been very London-focused at ROTA, with responses produced to the Mayor’s London Plan and Heath Inequality Strategy, as well as London Councils Funding Priorities from 2011-2015. MiNet also led on a response to the Mayor’s Economic Strategy. The Winning the Race Coalition continues to monitor and influence the progress of the Single Equality Bill and we have produced a briefing on how laws are made to support as many organisations as possible in engaging with the Bill as it progresses. ROTA was successful in gaining a seat on the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) London Violence Against Women Panel through the work of the Female Voice in Violence Project, which will launch its first report next month.

Our first e-newsletter of 2010 outlines key developments in the Single Equality Bill, highlights new consultation activity at the Department for Children Schools and Families, and provides information on new publication from CLG and the Department of Health. We look forward to an active year in policy, and hope to engage with you all in the process.

ROTA is currently recruiting a new Head of Policy. Full details can be found at www.rota.org.uk and the closing date for applications is the 4th February.

In this issue:
National Policy News
01 Equality and Human Rights Policy
02 Criminal Justice National Policy
03 Health Inequalities National Policy
04 Education and Young People National Policy
05 Poverty and social exclusion
06 Other National Policy News
London Policy News
01 MiNet updates
02 Other London Policy News

National Policy News

1. Equality and Human Rights Policy

Wining the Race Coalition - Single Equality Bill updates

Race on the Agenda (ROTA) formed a national coalition of third sector bodies to influence and inform the Single Equality Bill and increase awareness around it and other race equality legislation.

ROTA and the Coalition members have been working, and will continue to work, over the duration of all the stages of the Bill to engage with key stakeholders involved in ensuring that the needs of BAME communities and the BAME third sector are met. To this end we have produced detailed updates on the Bill that have summarised the debate and the issues prevalent for BAME community organisations. You can see the updates and follow the progress of the Bill at the Winning the Race Coalition website.

National Equality Panel Launches a Report

On the 27th January the National Equality Panel launched it’s report 'An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK'. Following the government's 2007 Equalities Review, the National Equality Panel report constitutes one of the most thorough, evidence-based analyses of Britain's state of inequality. The report backs up many of ROTA's findings and arguments on health inequalities, unemployment, disproportionality and educational inequality faced by Britain's BAME groups. It also confirms ROTA's recent research findings on the impact of the recession on BAME services and organisations. In a ROTA press release, Dr Theo Gavrielides, Chief Executive of ROTA said: "The new report is a wake-up call for everyone. It points out a collective failure to tackle persistent inequalities in Britain. There are no more excuses. The Single Equality Bill is one step in the right direction. ROTA has supported the inclusion of the socio-economic duty in the Bill, and argued strongly in favour of positive action measures. It is time to name things as they happen in British society. If it is racism, then let's call it racism and not community cohesion or something else. It is time to stop putting the blame on the poorest and raise the mirror of responsibility. A generation later and Britain is less equal. Is this the legacy that we want to pass on to our children?"

Single Equality Bill

The Single Equality Bill is in committee stage in the Lords having passed through its first and second reading. There it is being examined in detail with amendments being tabled on numerous clauses and sections of the Bill. There is a wide range of issues being debated, including on the socio economic duty, the inclusion of caste under the protected characteristic of race, the Public Sector Equality Duty and provisions on positive action among others. You can view the entire Bill and all the amendments at the Parliaments website.

EHRC Amendment to the Single Equality Bill

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has placed an amendment to the Single Equality Bill that could potentially increase the obligation on public authorities to address inequality. The amendment refers to Clause 148 which presently places the Single Equality Duty on all public authorities to show ‘due regard’ to the need to:

  1. Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation

  2. Advance equality of opportunity between persons of different protected characteristics (i.e. race, gender, religion etc.)

  3. Foster good relations between persons who share protected characteristics and persons who don’t share it.

The EHRC amendment would change the clause so that the public authority would have to ‘show due regard and take steps’ to meet the three actions described. EHRC believes this is necessary to avoid the public duty being used as a tick box exercise, and hopes this amendment, if supported, would improve the actions of public authorities. You can view the EHRC briefing here.

This amendment has been very recently tabled and marks a change in the obligations facing public authorities through the Bill. The Government is not supporting the amendment and there has been no information from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats or cross bench peers. For further information contact Ellie Rose at the EHRC ellie.rose@equalityhumanrights.com.

How UK Laws are made - ROTA Briefing Paper

ROTA has produced a briefing paper explaining how laws are made in the UK, to compliment the progress of the Single Equality Bill through parliament. It describes the different types of legislation that can be created by Government, MPs and Lords, and the processes that a proposal has to go through before it becomes law. It will hopefully help inform communities and individuals of the stages the Bill is at presently in the Lords, and where the potential for involvement is available. You can view the briefing on how laws are made here.

EHRC Triennial review

In January ROTA submitted evidence to the first phase of the EHRC’s consultation for its Triennial Review. Through its Triennial Review, EHRC aims to highlight critical issues that society is currently facing, which will inform its agenda for future work. To find out more please click here.

EHRC: Equality Impact Assessment Guidance

In December, EHRC published a step-by-step guide for public authorities on integrating equality impact assessments into policymaking and review. It could be useful to anyone seeking to ensure that statutory agencies are fulfilling their requirements under race equality legislation. To find out more please click here.


2. Criminal Justice National Policy

EHRC’s concerns over DNA proposals

This month the EHRC told the Home Affairs Select Committee that many of the government’s proposals relating to the retention of DNA material remain incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. This is despite the proposed changes to the Crime and Security Bill that would see a reduction on the retention of samples from 12 to six years. The EHCR requires that the UK Government should have clear, justifiable reasons for holding onto DNA data from people who have not been convicted of a crime. EHRC also raised a series of other concerns about proposals contained in the Bill. Given the disproportionate number of Black males on the DNA database, and ROTA’s commitment to Human Rights, we support the EHRC’s position on the use of the database and would encourage other BAME organisations to follow the proposals featured in the Crime and Security Bill. To find out more please click here.


3. Health Inequalities National Policy

New Horizons: Towards a shared vision for mental health

The Department of Health recently published its new strategy ‘New Horizons: Towards a shared vision for mental health’. ROTA responded to the consultation on this strategy in October highlighting the persistent inequalities BAME communities face in terms of mental health. The final strategy acknowledges the need to address these inequalities and in particular for:

  • Commissioners to respond to them, including through proactive work with BAME communities and the third sector to make sure that services are personalised around linguistic and cultural characteristics.

  • Public mental health initiatives for good mental health to be ‘targeted at, or is at least equally effective for, ethnically diverse populations’.

The Strategy will establish a new Ministerial Advisory Group for inequalities and mental health, which will advise on action and monitor progress. The ongoing National Mental Health Development programme will continue in 2010/11 to help deliver race equality in mental health care, as part of an integrated mental health equalities programme. It will be informed by the findings from the review of the 5-year Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care action plan, which comes to an end in January 2010. To find out more please click here.

Personalisation of social care services

The Social Care Institute for Excellence has produced a useful briefing on the implications of the personalisation agenda for third sector groups providing social care services. To read the brief please click here.

Health services join the fight against youth crime

In December Care Services Minister Phil Hope launched the first cross-government strategy specifically designed to break the link between poor health and youth crime. Speaking, while visiting staff at Lewisham Police Station, the Minister outlined how 'Healthy Children, Safer Communities', will build on existing work to prevent young people from getting involved in crime. The strategy focuses on early intervention to address health problems to ensure the underlying causes of poor behaviour are tackled before problems become serious. It will also ensure that young people already in the system have their health problems dealt with more effectively. To find out more please click here.


4. Education and Young People National Policy

Nearly half of all young black people left unemployed

The recession has left almost half of young black people unemployed, according to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research. Unemployment among this group is up by 13 per cent from 35 per cent since the recession began and is well over twice the rate of unemployment among white young people which stands at 20 per cent. ROTA’s policy work in both education and criminal justice reflects the impact of disproportionate unemployment on BAME communities and welcomes this report. We would encourage BAME organisations to draw upon this evidence base when arguing for BAME specific service delivery in the employment field.To read the report please click here.

Families Green Paper

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has published ‘Support for all – the Families and Relationships Green Paper’, which includes the proposals for more targeted support to families in need; As part of the Green Paper, the government will also launch a review into the family justice system, which aims to reduce conflict and promote earlier resolution of problems. To read the green paper please click here. The Conservatives have also published their ‘Green Paper on the Family’. It emphasises the importance of stable family relationships and marriage in particular and includes a proposal for a new Department for Families. To read this paper please click here. ROTA’s work with mothers affected by serious youth violence, with the Female Voice in Violence project, has identified a need for specific BAME-led support services for families. We will monitor the developments of these green papers and seek to ensure that the needs of BAME families are recognised.

Consultation: Pupil and Parent Guarantees

The DCSF has launched a ‘Public Consultation on the Introduction of Pupil and Parent Guarantees’ alongside the second reading of the Children, Schools and Families Bill. Pupil and Parent Guarantees will detail the key components of a good education, with a focus on the entitlements and responsibilities of pupils and parents. The consultation closes on 5th April 2010 and as education is a policy priority for ROTA, and engagement between family and school is a need for BAME parents, especially those newly arrived in the UK, we will be producing a response. To find out more please click here. The Children, Schools and families Bill includes proposals for: PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) education for every pupil; extra support for pupils who are falling behind; personal tutors for all secondary school pupils; and stronger home-school agreements.


5. Poverty and social exclusion

No Recourse - A step in the right direction…?

In November the government announced a pilot scheme for women experiencing domestic violence but who cannot access safe housing and support due to their insecure immigration status. The scheme will provide funding for a woman with ‘no recourse to public funds’ in a refuge for up to 40 days pending an application to remain in the UK under the Domestic Violence Rule. Leading violence against women and human rights organisations welcomed the scheme but are calling on the government to ensure that all abused women have sufficient access to protection and safety when they need it for as long as they need it. ROTA supports this call, and under its work on the Female Voice in Violence project has identified complex and specific needs for BAME and Refugee and Asylum seeker women and girls who experience violence and struggle to access support. To find out more on the government’s plans please click here.

Highest ever rise in unemployment for ethnic minorities

Research published in December by the EHRC and the Government Equalities Office, shows that people from ethnic minorities have seen a marked increase in their rate of unemployment since the start of the recession in 2008. The trend has become more marked in the six months preceding December, with Asian and Caribbean and African unemployment rising by 2.2 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively, whilst white unemployment has risen by just 0.8 per cent. To read the report please click here. ROTA has sought to influence policy regarding the recession through the work of MiNet, who have looked at the impact the recession has had on the BAME third sector. To access the MiNet report click here.

The Big Issue for Roma: Exclusion or Engagement?

On 25th February 2010 the Roma Support Group will deliver this conference in Stratford, London to explore best practice in public service provision by and for the Roma refugee and migrant community. The experiences of smaller BAME and Refugees and Asylum seeker groups in the UK are often overshadowed and ROTA will be attending this event to ensure that the experiences of ROMA communities across health and education are reflected in the work that we do. To find out more and to book a place please visit click here.


6. Other National Policy News

Communities and Local Government Launch the Tackling Racial Inequalities Strategy

Communities and Local Government (CLG) launched the Tackling Racial Inequalities Strategy on 14th January 2010. The strategy is the CLG’s plan to address racial inequalities in the UK. It has three elements:

  • Enforcing a strong legal framework

  • Ensuring work on race equality is an important feature of every government department and that all public services continue to play their part in tackling race inequalities

  • Targeted work to address support to particular groups to overcome specific challenges, where needed.

You can view the document here.

Tackling violence against women and girls

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has launched ‘Tackling Violence against Women and Girls: a guide to good practice communication’. This is a response to the recognition that reducing violence against women and girls requires a long-term shift in public attitudes. The guide is the first of its kind on this topic and is designed to support communication and campaign activity around the cross-Government Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy. ROTA has been engaging with the VAWG via the evidence base generated through the Female Voice in Violence research. We welcome the strategy and will be seeking to influence its implementation to ensure that the needs of girls and BAME women are fully met. To find out more please click here.

Citizenship Survey: Race, religion and equalities

In December, CLG published a summary of findings relating to race, religion and equalities from the 2007-08 Citizenship Survey. This is the fourth in a series with previous summaries produced in 2001, 2003 and 2005. The Citizenship Survey is designed to contribute to the evidence base across a range of important policy areas including cohesion, community empowerment, race equality, volunteering and charitable giving and ROTA would encourage BAME organisations to draw upon it as an evidence base when seeking to influence policy and demonstrate a need for BAME led services and voice. To read the summary please click here.

The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act

The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act received Royal Assent last November. It makes legislative provisions for the most significant proposals outlined in the 2008 Local Government White Paper ‘Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power’ It seeks to create greater opportunities for community and individual involvement in local decision-making and in shaping local services. NCVO has prepared a briefing on the Act; to read NCVO’s briefing please click here.

Refreshed Compact Launched

The new refreshed Compact has been launched. The Compact is an agreement between Government and the third sector and sets out guidelines for how both parties should work together. Unlike the previous Compact, the refreshed Compact is not accompanied by a Code of Good Practice specifically for the BAME third sector. In October, ROTA responded to the consultation about it welcoming a single Compact in reflection of recent developments in the equalities and human rights landscape, including the establishment of the EHRC and the Single Equality Bill. However, ROTA expressed concern about the loss of many of the commitments made in the BME Compact Code. ROTA will be supporting Voice for Change England’s work to ensure that the implementation guide that will be produced will be responsive to the particular assets, values and needs of BAME organisations. Community Sector Coalition see the refreshed Compact as a step backwards for equalities and community groups and argue that it concentrates on organisations that have been contracted to deliver public services. To read the refreshed Compact please click here.

London Policy News

1. MiNet updates

MiNet Recession Policy Briefing

MiNet recently produced a Policy Briefing which looks at the impact the present economic downturn will have on London’s BAME population. One aspect of the Briefing looks at BAME unemployment and is supported by the recent research from EHRC and GEO referred to above, which suggests that BAME groups are more sensitive to unemployment. The briefing also highlights concerns around health and education, and how inequalities which prevail in these two areas may potentially be compounded as the recession continues to hit public sector finances. In April 2010, MiNet will be working with 3SA to monitor public spending cuts on third sector organisations across the London boroughs. MiNet will be looking at where cuts are most prevalent on BAME organisations by locality and service area. MiNet will also look for any evidence of positive measures taken by local authorities to provide an environment more conducive to the survival of BAME organisations.

Recession discussion 21st January

MiNet recently organised a joint discussion in west London with Southall Community Alliance and London Funders. BAME groups and funders were gathered together to look at some of the issues in west London and further explore recommendations made from a meeting held at the Greater London Authority on November 17th. Further information about the November discussion can be found on MiNet’s recession webpage. Details will also be available here shortly on January’s discussion. The discussion looked at areas where BAME organisations can best promote their unique selling points during an economic downturn and the value of other specialist services such as capacity building.

From Recession to Recovery: The Skills and Employment Strategy for London (2009-2014)

The London Skills & Employment Board for Greater London has recently released their new strategy to tackle unemployment within the context of the present economic crisis. The new strategy, titled from “Recession to Recovery”, places an emphasis on improving the supply of skills though there is no significant stance on targeting policies specifically for equality groups. MiNet is concerned that there has been little emphasis on disentangling the important and qualitative differences between disadvantage and discrimination and the need to understand and address each adequately in order to improve the objective of reducing social polarisation. MiNet’s response to the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy contains evidence about the need to consider London’s BAME population during the present economic downturn and areas for concern.

EHRC’s Codes and Guidance for the Single Equality Bill

Over the next two months MiNet with the support of ROTA will be responding to the EHRC’s Codes and Guidance for the Single Equality Bill. The deadline has recently been extended to 6th April to take account of the Easter break. If you are not responding to the consultation and have examples of good guidance please forward these to MiNet.


2. Other London Policy News

ROTA’s London focused consultation responses

ROTA has submitted responses to the Mayor’s draft spatial strategy, the London Plan, and his draft Health Inequalities Strategies. The London Plan is the framework within which planning development and decisions in London will be made. The Mayor also has statutory responsibility for health and the Health Inequalities Strategy outlines how the Mayor’s Office will ensure that healthcare is accessible to all. ROTA also responded to London Councils consultation on the future priorities for its grants programme. We would like to thank all those who took the time to respond to our call for evidence. To read the responses please visit the publications pages of our website at www.rota.org.uk.

MODA’s new Migrants’ Anti-Poverty Alliance

MODA is planning to set up a new forum: Migrants' Anti-Poverty Alliance (MAPA) in response to calls from members. MAPA will bring together migrant community organisations and other stakeholders interested in the issue and consequences of poverty and unemployment experienced by migrant communities and individuals. To register interest in joining this network please email info@moda.org.uk.

The Mayor’s Refugee Integration Strategy

In December the Mayor published London Enriched, his strategy for Refugee Integration. It sets out to define and implement his vision for refugee integration in London. This vision sees refugees living in security and dignity, sharing with all Londoners the same chances for a decent quality of life and the opportunity to contribute to London and its development. ROTA’s Chief Executive, Dr. Theo Gavrielides, sits on the Mayor’s Migrant and Refugee Advisory Panel and contributed evidence to this document. The strategy will guide the implementation over the three-year period from 2009 to 2012. To find out more please click here.