July 2009    Issue 30

Welcome to July's edition of ROTA's newsletter!

June has been a very busy month for ROTA, with Chief Executive Dr Theo Gavrielides giving evidence to the House of Commons committee on the Single Equality Bill and two memoranda to the Committee. We are pleased to see that the Committee have taken on board the concerns of the Winning the Race Coalition in regards to the definition of a Public Authority and this issue is now being reviewed.  

ROTA Policy Officer Carlene Firmin appeared on Channel Four’s Dispatches programme, ‘Rape in the City’. She highlighted issues emerging from the ROTA Female Voice in Violence(FVV) project.

MiNet also launched its report "The Economic Downturn and the BAME third sector" at an event in London. London Councils and Government Office for London were among the keynote speakers.

See www.rota.org.uk for details on ROTA’s work.

In this issue:
National Policy News
01 Equality and Human Rights
02 Criminal Justice
03 Health Inequalities
04 Education and Young People
05 General Policy News
London Policy News
01 MiNet updates
02 General Regional Policy News


National Policy News

1. Equality and Human Rights

Single Equality Bill - ROTA gives evidence to the House of Commons

On 2nd June representatives of the Winning the Race Coalition, ROTA Chief Executive, Dr Theo Gavrielides and Runnymede Trust, Dr Rob Berkerley gave Oral Evidence to the House of Commons committee scrutinising the Equality Bill. Please see relevant links for further information. To view the oral evidence session, visit www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=4186. To read the oral evidence, visit www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmpublic/equality/090602/pm/90602s01.htm.

Please contact Pavan Dhaliwal on pavan@rota.org.uk for further details.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) writes to BNP over potential breach of race discrimination law

ROTA supports the EHRC in taking action against the British National Party over possible breaches of anti-discrimination law. The Commission has demanded that the party addresses potential breaches related to its constitution and membership criteria, employment practices and provision of services to the public and constituents. The letter, sent to the party chairman Nick Griffin, outlines the Commission’s concerns about the BNP’s compliance with the Race Relations Act. The letter asks the BNP to provide written undertakings by 20th July that it will make the changes required by the Commission. Failure to do so may result in the Commission issuing an application for a legal injunction against the BNP.  For further details visit www.equalityandhumanrights.org.

Update on the Winning the Race Coalition

Coalition members and others from organisations working to influence the Single Equality Bill have been attending roundtables with Trevor Phillips to discuss joint work on the Bill. Actions coming out of meetings and relevant papers such as ROTA’s two memoranda to the Equality Bill Committee can be accessed at www.rota.org.uk. Also, ROTA are pleased to announce that one of the concerns raised in the original briefing in regards to the Bill have been taken into account, and the definition of a Public Authority is now being reviewed.

Government consultation on specific duties and the ban on age discrimination

On 11 June 2009, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) published a consultation document setting out policy proposals for the specific public sector equality duties. ROTA, on behalf of the Winning the Race Coalition will be providing a detailed response to the consultation ‘Equality Bill: Making it work. Policy Proposals for Specific Duties. A consultation’ which closes on Wednesday 30 September 2009. GEO will also be undertaking a consultation on the ban on age discrimination in services and public functions and will be arranging a series of public events providing information about the Equality Bill and its various consultations to take place over the next few months. To find out more, visit www.equalities.gov.uk.

Government Equalities Office Consultation (GEO) on Multiple Discrimination

ROTA responded to the GEO consultation document on multiple discrimination. ROTA strongly supports the GEO’s proposal to insert a new multiple discrimination provision into the Single Equality Bill. Evidence from ROTA research demonstrates shows that multiple discrimination is common and is just as harmful as discrimination based on a single characteristic, so it should be treated in a similar way. The Government’s proposed new clause would outlaw multiple discrimination but only when it takes the form of direct discrimination. See www.rota.org.uk for the consultation response.

Launch of EHRC’s Human Rights Inquiry

The findings of EHRC’s Human Rights Inquiry have been published. ROTA provided written and oral evidence to the most comprehensive research to date into the Human Rights Act’s first ten years. It brings together evidence from almost 3,000 individuals and organisations including service providers, service users and advocacy groups, inspectorates, academics and legal experts politicians, the media and Government Ministers. The report findings echoed the findings of ROTA studies in that whilst the Human Rights Act is an invaluable tool to use when facing discrimination and there are examples of good practice, there is overall an insufficient knowledge of human rights and more resource and capacity must be offered to educate and build awareness around the area. ROTA supports the report's recommendation on a statutory duty being placed on all public authorities to take into account human rights when implementing new polices. See the report in full at www.equaityhumanrights.com.


2. Criminal Justice

Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice

ROTA and the Transformative Justice Forum will be responding to the Criminal Justice Group’s consultation ‘Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice’ on how to achieve effective community engagement as it is 'key to improving public confidence in the way in which crime is tackled and justice delivered'. The consultation considers four main aims: Building Stronger Community Focused Partnerships, Building on the success of our Community Justice projects and the problem-solving approach, Increasing the intensity and visibility of Community Payback and Keeping the public informed. The role of the BAME third sector in engaging with community based approaches to criminal justice is crucial and we would encourage those stakeholders to engage with this consultation to ensure the needs of BAME communities are considered. The closing date for responses is the 31st July and further information can be found at http://consultations.cjsonline.gov.uk/Default.aspx?conid=1.

Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Sentencing Advisory Panel

The Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Advisory panel have published their annual report. The foreword by the Lord Chief Justice refers to the proposals (Coroners and Justice Bill) that would create extra responsibilities for monitoring sentencing guidelines and assessing the impact on correctional resources of new policy and legislation. This is of particular interest to ROTA, being key partners of the Race For Justice campaign looking at the disproportional representation of BAME communities in the criminal justice system which includes the issue of higher sentences for BAME offenders. Access the full report at http://www.sentencingguidelines.gov.uk/docs/sgc_sap_annual_report_2008_09.pdf.


3. Health Inequalities

Offenders with Mental Health Disorder

Comprehensive new guidance and forms have been published aimed at clinical and social supervisors and those working with mentally disordered offenders (restricted patients). ROTA takes a special interest in this area because of the high number of BAME patients in mental health institutions and the numbers at which they are referred to through criminal justice agencies. ROTA will be working in this area, sitting on the Sainsbury’s Mental Health Advisory Group.

Support for Refugee Healthcare Professionals

The Refugee Healthcare Professionals Programme aims to take a co-ordinated and integrated approach to the delivery of services to support refugee healthcare professionals back into employment. The Refugee Healthcare Professionals Programme is made up of; Building Bridges London, Building Bridges West Midlands, Reach North West and Refugee Health Professionals North East, and works closely with MENTER in the East of England. The Programme has funding from the Home Office and the European Refugee Fund, NHS London, NHS West Midlands, NHS East Midlands, NHS North West and NHS Yorkshire and Humber In late May, the ROSE website (www.rose.nhs.uk) was re-launched. ROSE is an online information portal for refugee healthcare professionals, the agencies supporting them and employers. It has been very well received and within the first few weeks of going live, it received nearly 900 hits. We encourage you to visit the website and link to it from your website. Any courses for refugee healthcare professionals will be advertised on the “News and Events” page of ROSE. If you have any updates please send them to: RefugeeEmployment@nhsemployers.org.


4. Education and Young People

Child Poverty Bill

On 12th June, the Government published a Child Poverty Bill to enshrine in law a duty to eradicate child poverty by 2020. Focusing on multi-agency working, it puts ‘a new duty on Government, every local authority and delivery partners, including Jobcentre Plus, the Police, NHS Primary Care Trusts and youth offending agencies to work together to end child poverty by supporting families and opportunities for future generations'. Given that ROTA’s recent consultation with the BAME third sector identified the issue of poverty as a top five policy priority for BAME organisations and communities, this progress is significant and needs to be monitored. Alongside the Bill, the Government also published a report from the ‘Take Up Taskforce’, which offers local authorities and partners examples of actions they can take now to tackle child poverty by maximising families’ incomes. For more information on the report or the bill please visit http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2009_0107.

REACH Conference

ROTA will be attending the REACH conference on 14th July 2009, celebrating the progress made on the REACH programme. REACH aims to raise the aspirations and attainment of Black boys and young Black men. In 2007 the REACH panel, made up of individuals with experience of working with Black boys and young Black men, made five recommendations. The recommendations were accepted by the Government in August 2008. These ranged from providing national role models, to supporting Voluntary and Community Service organisations working with Black boys and young Black men, to ensuring that schools deliver on their race equality duties. The Government will report progress made against the recommendations as the REACH programme is mainstreamed. A Communities and Local Government Minister will give the key note address to highlight progress to date. The conference will also highlight support available for small Voluntary and Community Service organisations who are working with Black boys and young Black men. In addition, delegates will be able to take part in workshops and visit stands to learn more about the REACH programme. Please visit http://reach.eventreg.org.uk/ to register for the event.


5. General Policy News

Hardship Fund

This year's Budget saw the announcement of a £16.7m Hardship Fund for the sector, building on the £42.5m Real Help for Communities action plan. The Hardship Fund will provide grant support to third sector organisations in England delivering front-line services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society that have been affected by the recession. Grants of between £50,000 and £250,000 will be available to organisations with a turnover of at least £200,000 that are in financial hardship which is impacting on their ability to deliver services in the following areas: health and social care, housing support, education and training and information, advice and guidance.

The Big Lottery Fund - New Funding Strategy Unveiled

MiNet and ROTA welcome the recent announcement made by the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) to allocate at least 80 per cent of its funds to voluntary and community groups. Additionally, the BLF have pledged a further £45m for charities to help them through the recession. This good news arrives after what appears to have been a meaningful consultation (Big Thinking consultation), which asked stakeholders and the public how its budget for new funding programmes should be spent. The news is particularly welcome as £45m will be distributed in the current financial year, with £7m to be for much needed investment to increase capacity Bill on Child Poverty.

Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power

Communities and Local Government has published its ‘Communities Progress Report. This sets out the progress made since the publication of the local government white paper ‘Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power’ and provides a timeframe for future implementation. Progress includes:

  • the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which has now reached the House of Commons;

  • a review of Local Area Agreements;

  • the development of participatory budgeting projects;

  • the creation of a social enterprise and third sector unit within CLG;

  • the launch of an external ‘asset transfer unit’.

ROTA will be scrutinising the document, particularly in regards to local area agreements, against evidence collected by ROTA research and consultations and will represent the reality of any progress in policy forums. For the full document, visit http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/1242326.


London Policy News

1. MiNet updates

MiNet Report Launch: London’s BAME Third Sector: Managing the Economic Downturn

On 30th June, MiNet held an event to launch a report which details the findings from research carried out looking at the impact of the recession on the BAME third sector. The report ‘The Economic Downturn and BAME Third Sector: An evidence based study looking at challenges and responses to the recession by London’s BAME and equality third sector’ can be accessed from MiNet’s webpage http://www.rota.org.uk/pages/MiNet.aspx. The event proved to be successful bringing together delegates representing private, public and third sector organisations. MiNet will use the information gathered from the event to continue to inform key regional bodies about issues affecting the BAME third sector. An event report will be available on MiNet’s webpage from 1st August 2009.

Helping London’s BAME School Children

MiNet is offering support in raising awareness about the valuable work carried out by the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN) which may be lost. CEN work increasingly hard in the struggle to bring justice and equality in education for London’s BAME school pupils who face exclusion. Considering BAME young people are excluded at a disproportionate level compared to white British pupils, CEN work hard  to intervene informally at an early stage, and when necessary making representations to the school governors or presenting appeals to independent panels. CEN encourage some schools to bring their structures up to date in terms of governance, staffing, enrolment, curriculum and learning resources that reflect Britain’s modern multi-ethnic society - and how best to oppose discrimination and promote genuine equality of opportunity and good social and working relations.  For more information on the work carried out by CEN or to offer support contact 020 8432 0530/1/2/3, email post@compowernet.org or visit www.compowernet.org.


2. General Regional Policy News

Mayor's Housing Strategy

ROTA will be responding to the Mayor's ‘London Housing Strategy’ Draft for public consultation. Embodied in the strategy is the Mayor’s vision for housing in London is to raise aspirations and promote opportunity: by producing more affordable homes, particularly for families, and by increasing opportunities for home ownership through the new First Steps housing programme; to improve homes and transform neighbourhoods: by improving design quality, by greening homes, by targeting and delivering regeneration and by tackling empty homes; to maximise delivery and optimise value for money: by creating a new architecture for delivery, by developing new investment models and by promoting new delivery mechanisms. ROTA has in the past fed into much of the GLA Housing Policy strategies and we will be building upon previous work to ensure that BAME community priorities are represented throughout the strategy, some of which suffer the highest rates of overcrowding in housing.

HEAR, the ROTA based equalities and human rights VCS network is recruiting new steering group members

HEAR aims to place equality and human rights issues at the heart of the work of London’s voluntary and community sector (VCS). We do this by acting as a strong pan-equalities voice and source of knowledge and expertise on issues impacting on the VCS. Our work is underpinned by the belief that those with direct experience of inequality and discrimination are best placed to develop strategies to achieve equality. HEAR, London’s only regional equalities and human rights network, is inviting applications for a number of places on our steering group. We are now inviting applications from VCS organisations and networks working to address the inequality experienced by London’s:

  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people;

  • Children and young people;

  • Lesbian, gay and bi-sexual people;

  • Refugees, migrants and asylum seekers;

  • Transgender people;

  • Women.

We are also inviting applications from mainstream VCS organisations, and those with specialist expertise in the areas of human rights and environmental sustainability. Applications from both frontline and second-tier organisations are welcome. The role of HEAR’s steering group is to provide overall direction to the network, as well as equalities and human rights knowledge and expertise in response to developments impacting on the VCS. To find out more about HEAR, please visit our webpages on ROTA’s website at: http://www.rota.org.uk/pages/HEAR.aspx or contact Barbara Nea, HEAR’s Coordinator on 020 7902 1177 or email Barbara@rota.org.uk. For details of how to apply please go to http://www.rota.org.uk/pages/HEARgetInvolved.aspx.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 8th July 2009.