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ISSUE 48 - June 2011
Policy E-Newsletter

Welcome to the June 2011 edition of ROTA's Policy E-Newsletter

In this issue:
Red Tape Challenge spotlight ends 30 June - Act Now!
School admission changes set out
Update on the Education Bill
BAME Women's Sector: Fighting for survival

ROTA premises move

Equality Act 2010

Red Tape Challenge spotlight ends 30 June - Act Now!

The Red Tape Challenge website, a Coalition initiative to review 'unnecessary bureaucracy' and reduce 'burdensome red tape', is asking the public to consider whether the brand new Equality Act 2010 should be scrapped.We urge everyone to go to the site and comment on why you think the Act should be kept or strengthened.

We also encourage everyone to get the word out to friends, colleagues and networks that it is particularly critical to comment during the current spotlight period. Until 30 June, the Government is seeking feedback on whether each section of the Act should be scrapped, merged, simplified, improved or left alone. We have produced a template response here, which you can use.

Email us at rota@rota.org.uk or tweet #RedTapeChallenge to let us know what you have been saying in support of this invaluable piece of legislation. Read more here.

EDF report: 'Who’s Still Missing? Refugees, migrants and the equality agenda'

That one-third of all London boroughs have not published a race equality or generic scheme within the past three years could have a profound impact on refugee and migrant experiences of discrimination, according to a new report by the Equality and Diversity Forum.

The report, 'Who's Still Missing? Refugees, migrants and the equality agenda', explores the lessons that can be learned from the way in which public authorities in London have previously implemented Race, Disability and Gender Equalities Duties with regard to refugees and migrants. It raises the question about how proactive public bodies are in assessing the needs of disadvantaged and discriminated against groups. Read more here.

Criminal justice

BAME Resettlement publications

Clinks have recently produced a series of publications which have adopted different methods of research looking at BAME resettlement. One of the papers, 'Stories of resettlement', has captured the highly personal stories of five men and women who have spent time in prison and are in the process of 'resettling' into life outside. This and other reports, delivered as part of Clinks Tackling Race Inequalities work, can be found here.

Bexley youth-led BAME report

An April 2011 report, launched by youth-led BAME organisation Active Horizons, highlights concerns of young people in Bexley. Several findings, gathered from 177 young people in the areas of Erith and Thamesmead, chime with evidence collected from ROTA’s Restoring Relations project, highlighting concerns around racial bullying and educational under-achievement. Arriving after the closure of Bexley Race and Equalities Council, and coming at a time when more power is devolved to local authorities, the report points to a widening chasm in the representation and support available to BAME young people. A copy of the report can be obtained by contacting Yeukai@activehorizons.org.uk.

Children, young people and education

MiNet Report: 'The Impact of the Economic Downturn on BAME Education Services'

A new MiNet report on the 'Impact of the Economic Downturn on BAME Education Services' brings together evidence on the vulnerability of smaller organisations, including the closure of services. Rob Berkeley, Director of Runnymede Trust, and Uvanney Maylor, Reader in Education, University of Bedfordshire, acknowledged the timeliness of the report and commented on its importance at the 25th May launch. You can download the report for free here.

School admission changes set out

On 27 May, the Department for Education launched its consultation on the changes to the admissions framework.

The admissions code covers entry to all state schools. School admissions remain highly competitive in some areas, with one in seven pupils failing to get a place at their first choice of secondary school this year. This figure is considerably higher for those living in London.

There are also concerns about a shortage of primary school places in the next few years in some areas, with London predicting a shortfall of about 70,000 over the next four years. Others have expressed concern that the proposed admissions code would undermine the role of the local authority in ensuring solutions are found to shortages in school places and that they do not include enough to encourage schools to include pupils from poorer backgrounds. The changes to the rules on local accountable admissions panels, and limits to the jurisdiction of the schools adjudicator in the Education Bill, are also causing concern as they will reduce both local accountability and the independent oversight of how admissions arrangements are being implemented.

The closing date for responses is 19 August 2011.

The proposals include:

• Allow free schools set up by parents and community groups, and academies - state schools outside local authority control - to give priority to children eligible for free schools meals (those whose parents earn less than £16,000 a year)
• Allow schools to give priority to the children of their own teachers and other staff, something which was stopped under Labour
• Allow popular schools to expand without permission from local authorities or the education secretary
• Allow primary schools to increase infant class sizes beyond 30 pupils in order to take in twins and children whose parents are serving in the armed forces
• Remove the explicit ban on admissions authorities drawing catchment areas and selecting feeder schools in such as way as to disadvantage children from deprived areas
• Ban local authorities from using area-wide lotteries
• Alter the appeals process to make it "cheaper and less burdensome"
• Improve the way places are allocated to children who move area in the middle of an academic year

The Minster for Education, Michael Gove, says the existing system needed to change because it "rationed good schools" and with wealthier families able to go private or move house, "the poorest are often left with the worst schools". To find out more about the consultation please visit the relevant pages of the Department for Education’s website here.

See the BBC’s article, ‘Who will benefit from the new school admissions code?’ for commentary on the proposed code’s potential impact on disadvantaged socio-economic groups here.

ROTA hopes to submit a response to this consultation focused on any likely impacts on BAME communities and welcomes any contributions to our response. Please contact Barbara Nea, on barbara@rota.org.uk or t: 020 7902 1177 to find out more.

Update on the Education Bill

The passage of the Education Bill through Parliament continues, receiving a second reading at the House of Lords Committee stage on 14 June. The main purpose of the Bill is to give legislative effect to proposals set out in Government’s White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching', published last November.

In December 2010, we produced a briefing on the White Paper’s proposals with a brief analysis of their potential impact on BAME pupils. Our briefing highlighted an overall concern at the limited reference to race equality and duties under the Equality Act 2010. It also looked at specific areas which could potentially exacerbate racial inequality in education.

The White Paper proposed a wide-ranging series of reforms to education, with stated aims to:

• Strengthen the status of teachers and teaching
• Reinforce the standards set by the curriculum and qualifications
• Give schools greater freedom
• Make schools more accountable to parents
• Help schools to learn more from good practice elsewhere
• Enable young people to stay in education and training until the age of 18

On 13 June, while the Education Bill was being considered in the House of Lords, a number of speeches were made which considered some key inequalities faced by BAME communities within the education system, including:

• Disproportionate exclusion rates faced by pupils from certain BAME groups
• The experience of African-Caribbean and Gypsy, Roma and Traveler experience of education over the years
• The disproportionate impact on BAME pupils of changes to the Education Maintenance Allowance, Teacher Training, Contextual Added Value scores, powers for teachers to search pupils

The speech by Baroness Howells of St Davids can be accessed here. The speech by Lord Parekh can be accessed here.

The speech by Baroness Whitaker can be accessed here.

Read Guardian columnist David Gillbourn’s latest comment on the implications of the educational reforms on race equality here.

To find out more about the development of the Education Bill, visit the UK Parliament website here.

To find out how bills pass through Parliament, visit the UK Parliament website here.

Findings from Childcare Affordability Pilot

A pilot programme to assess whether an alternative method of paying childcare support would change customer experiences and behaviour of claiming has been examined in a new Department for Education report.

It is hoped the evidence from the pilot programme may help the government understand how it can support families with children into sustainable employment. The programme tested the impact of a different system of reporting and payment of the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit, but where the total level of support was maintained in line with the current system. 135 face-to-face in-depth interviews were carried out in London and the South East of England.

Parents who participated found the new system easy to use and an overall positive step with better opportunities to budget. Yet outside of the scope of the report, many questions still remain when considering the need for appropriate and flexible childcare across London. We still await information on how the Universal Credit will be able to address the real cost of work. Currently, since Universal Credit cannot be adjusted to take into account local differences in childcare, the assertion that people will always be better-off in work may not hold.

ROTA’s policy work has continued to highlight the nuanced difficulties BAME families encounter with childcare and how this can impact the chances of obtaining work. It has been recorded that even when BAME parents reach an income threshold and can finance childcare, they may go on to face discrimination by childcare providers who are challenged by the impact of diversity in terms of race, faith and religious belief on their work.

We believe the market for childcare services to BAME families is significant, in essence due to the fact that a greater proportion of children under the age of 16 are BAME. A further concern related to childcare difficulties is that black Caribbean women have the highest rates among women of lone parenthood, and of participation in the labour market.

A further example can be posited in the fact that conventional 9-5 working patterns and associated childcare do not necessarily apply to the Chinese community, whose work is often focused around the catering industry. Hence, working hours are more likely to be during evenings and weekends when there is little formal childcare available. Our evidence shows that families of Eritrean and Somali school-age children wanted them to have additional support with their education, as well as mother tongue teaching and cultural understanding. With this in mind, consideration must be offered to the role that supplementary schools can play in filling a gap in the informal childcare setting at a time when many supplementary schools are struggling to survive.

UK investment in Family Benefits is failing to improve outcomes

Recent evidence has shown that outcomes for children are not improving, despite the UK being one of the biggest spenders in the OECD on family benefits.

The study, 'Doing better for families', found that although the UK government spent on average £138,000 in family support on each child from birth to the age of 18, the UK has higher child poverty rates and lower employment opportunities for parents than other countries with similar spending levels. With high levels of BAME child poverty, and with 4 in 10 London children living in poverty - 12% higher than the national average - consideration needs to be given to more universal support and the nuanced requirements of BAME families.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s poverty, ethnicity and education programme

On 18 May, our Chief Executive, Dr. Elizabeth Henry, spoke at the launch of Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF) new poverty and ethnicity programme. This new programme will increase understanding of the relationship between poverty and ethnicity and develop more effective ways of tackling poverty across ethnic groups.

ROTA welcomes JRF’s acknowledgment, through this programme, of the links between ethnicity, educational disadvantage and poverty at a time when it is being overlooked in policy-making. To read JRF’s review of the evidence base on poverty and ethnicity, please visit here.

To read the accompanying blog from JRF Poverty and Ethnicity Programme Manager, Helen Barnard, please visit here.


Briefings on race and health

The Race Equality Foundation has produced two new ‘Better Health’ briefings.

‘User participation in health care services’ considers the reasons for, and solutions to, the low take-up of health services among black and minority ethnic communities.

‘Tobacco use among minority ethnic populations and cessation interventions’ considers the factors which influence tobacco use and differential rates of cessation.

Both briefings can be accessed here.

Changes to the NHS Reforms

As a result of considerable opposition to proposed changes to the NHS, the coalition has paused and reviewed its position. The NHS Future Forum made a number of recommendations in relation to the reforms, which include removal of Monitor's competition role, inclusion of health professionals in GP consortia and the expansion of the role of the National Board. Read the proposals here.

London news

Court rules on Hillingdon Council human rights case

Hillingdon Council was found in breach of respite care patient Steven Neary's human rights, the Court of Protection has ruled.

Group Director Legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said, "Public bodies – such as care providers and hospitals - must pay better attention to the human rights of people in their care if they are to protect vulnerable adults and improve service standards." Read more here.

National news

Senior MPs call localism agenda “inconsistent and incoherent”

In the final report of its localism inquiry, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee has criticised the government’s localism agenda, arguing that it needs a more coherent vision in order for it to work on the ground. Runnymede Trust, who is quoted a number of times in the report, stressed the need for new structures to help marginalised groups (including ethnic minorities) hold local authorities to account. Read more here.

A plain English guide to the Localism Bill

The Government has published a plain English guide to the Localism Bill. Read more about how the Bill proposes to hand more freedoms to local government, establish new powers for communities and individuals and make the planning system more democratic and more effective here. Full details of the Bill and its explanatory notes are available online here.

Runnymede Bulletin on arts and culture

The Spring 2011 edition of the Runnymede Bulletin, focused on arts and culture, is now available. The Bulletin includes:

•How to get more minority ethnic people working in the arts
•Storytelling from behind bars
•Changing the press perception of refugees, and more

You can read the Runnymede Bulletin online here.

Every Single Woman campaign and the Women's Asylum Charter

Asylum Aid's Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum has been highly commended at this year's Charity Awards, held to celebrate talent and expertise in the voluntary sector.

Every single woman, the new campaign under the Women's Asylum Charter, focuses on the disparity in the treatment of women who are seeking asylum compared with women settled in the UK. Read more about the campaign here.

BTEG Leadership and Development Programme

The Black, Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) have launched a new Leadership and Development Programme for BAME community leaders. The overall aim of the programme is to give BAME civil society organisations support to reposition their organisations to take advantage of localism and Big Society opportunities and to explore new collaborative ways of working with local organisations with a similar remit. To find out more, please visit BTEG’s website here.

Call for papers: Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

The journal, Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, is currently inviting articles on the following general themes: identity and/or inter-cultural experiences; “Big Society, little budgets”; public health issues; dual heritage; ethnicity and older people; children and young people; and the experiences of different cultures of death and terminal care. Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care promotes equality in health and social care, with a particular emphasis on race and ethnicity. Read more here.

Tax awareness e-learning for frontline advisers

According to TaxAid, front-line advisers – in money, debt and welfare to work agencies - are frequently giving wrong advice that has the potential for disastrous outcomes for the most vulnerable of their clients. TaxAid is producing 7 interactive e-learning modules that address the risks that advisers face on all the above areas. The modules are 40 minutes each and are free of charge as the cost is covered by an HMRC grant. Training is suitable for all money, debt, welfare and employment advisers, especially those in government-funded programmes. Read more here.


ROTA news

ROTA premises move

As of 1st July 2011 ROTA will be moving premises. The new ROTA address will be:

c/o Voluntary Sector Services
London International Press Centre
76 Shoe Lane, London EC4A 3JB

We expect to resume full business operations by Wednesday 6 June 2011. Telephone number(s) to be confirmed.

BAME Women's Sector: Fighting for survival

The impact of vast changes in support for the BAME women's sector on minority ethnic women is examined in a new ROTA Supplement publication, BAME Women's Sector: Fighting for survival.

Contributors from a range of grassroots organisations describe the challenges facing BAME women and the real impact that a failure to recognise the important role of BAME women's organisations continues to have on minority ethnic women's lives. Digital versions of the publication will be available on our website from Thursday 30 June here.

'Building a fairer Britain' - ROTA's response

ROTA, on behalf of the Winning the Race Coalition responded to the GEO's EHRC consultation, highlighting the challenges posed by sweeping changes to the independent monitoring body.

The response warns that changes to the remit of the EHRC could severely weaken enforcement of the Equality Act 2010 and the ability for local communities to hold public authorities to account. Read the full response here.


Using Judicial Review to challenge breach of public equality duty in the public sector

The Discrimination Law Association is hosting a Practitioner Group Meeting on 'Using Judicial Review to challenge breach of public equality duty in the public sector on Wednesday 27 July 2011'. Louise Whitfield, who represented the claimants in leading cases on s71 of the Race Relations Act (the race equality duty) and s49A of the Disability Discrimination Act (the disability equality duty), will be the keynote speaker. The event will be held at 6.00pm on Wednesday 27 July at Russell Jones & Walker.

Non-members can attend the course for £20. For more information, contact discriminationlawassociation@gmail.com.




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

Email: rota@rota.org.uk




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

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