ISSUE 44 - November 2010
Policy E-Newsletter

Looking Back – the Equality Act and the Pupil Premium

Over the past month we have been busy coordinating a response to the consultation on the Public Sector Duty of the Equality Act 2010 through the Winning the Race Coalition. We have held a consultation event and a series of one day training sessions on the Equality Act for voluntary and community groups.

Education has also been a major focus this month. We submitted a response to the Pupil Premium, urging government to:

  • increase current levels of funding for disadvantaged pupils through school deprivation funds

  • target a portion of the fund at Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups that continue to face disadvantages in education.

ROTA appoints new CEO

Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Henry, who has now been appointed as ROTA’s Chief Executive. To find out more about Dr. Henry, read our press release here.

November offers plenty of opportunities to meet our CEO and other ROTA staff. Read more here.


  1. A fair share of cuts? the public sector revolution and BAME communities
    - London Councils' Commissioning Programme
    - Comprehensive Spending Review
    - Abolition of Youth Justice Board
    - Women’s National Commission is abolished

  2. Lord Browne tips cap to higher education fees

  3. Home Office proposes a rough guide to ethnic profiling

  4. Wealth of choice, poverty of support? the Health White Paper

  5. ROTA is now on Twitter. Follow us @raceontheagenda.


Children, young people and schools

Inquiry into Behaviour and Discipline in Schools

Behaviour and discipline in schools, particularly exclusion, has been a cause of concern among the parents of black children for many years.

In September the Runnymede Trust submitted evidence to the Education Select Committee Inquiry into Behaviour and Discipline in Schools. Runnymede’s submission to this Inquiry highlights these concerns. The solutions they propose include:

  • movement towards zero permanent exclusions

  • a less punitive approach to the parent-school relationship in behaviour and discipline among children and young people.

The submission can be read here.

Supporting BAME families with vulnerable boys

The attitude of some BAME parents with vulnerable boys is preventing them from getting involved with the education and development of their young boys and may be leading to their involvement in crime, according to research conducted by the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG).

The research was undertaken to find out the support needs of BAME families with vulnerable boys at risk of poor educational attainment, involvement in youth crime and/or mental health concerns.

The study found that many parents recognise the importance of education but did not prioritise it as a vehicle for social mobility. Read the report here.

The educational success of the Chinese community

British Chinese pupils are setting the benchmark in GCSE’s and could hold the secret to educational success for other ethnic groups, according to the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG). So “what more can we takeaway from the Chinese community?”

Chinese communities place an exceptionally high value on educational attainment and believe that this is a prerequisite for greater social mobility later in life. According to the 2001 census, 30 percent of the British Chinese post-16 population are full-time students compared to a UK average of eight percent.

This drive for educational attainment also seems to negate the effects of deprivation. The national average for pupils in 2009 who were eligible for free school meals and achieved 5+ A*-C GCSE grades including English and Mathematics stands at 27 percent. This means that an alarming three in four pupils are failing to reach the national benchmark, which includes the curriculum core subjects. Despite facing the similar disadvantage, British Chinese pupils who are entitled to free school meals achieved 71 percent in the same category.

BTEG has released a new policy briefing paper entitled “What more can we takeaway from the Chinese community?” to raise awareness of the significant level of British Chinese educational success. The full briefing can be found here.

Lord Browne tips cap to higher education fees

Inflation refers to rising prices. In times of inflation, people need larger amounts of money to buy smaller things. With Lord Browne’s review of higher education funding, ROTA is concerned that two types of inflation could occur, higher fees and higher interest rates. This will only create additional barriers for many disadvantaged communities. David Lammy and other fellow MPs echoed these concerns in a Westminster Hall debate on 3 November. Read Runnymede's parliamentary blog here.

On 12 October the report from Lord Browne’s review of higher education funding and student finance was published. The review made recommendations to Government on the future of fees policy and financial support for students.

Lord Browne has recommended that after leaving university, graduates will begin repaying when they reach an income of £21,000 a year, up from £15,000 under the current system. The report recommended that the current cap on fees of £3,290 per year will be removed. It has since been confirmed that the cap will be raised to £6,000, with universities able to charge up to £9,000.

Browne has also proposed overhauling the careers advice available in schools and factoring a ten percent increase in the number of student places into the system over the next four years.

Seminar: migrant and refugee children in schools, 6 December

Middlesex University is hosting an event that will explore the challenges facing BAME and newly arrived children and parents in education. Researchers, community organizations, educators and policy makers will discuss the role of supplementary schools and community organisations and the policy implications for schools and local authorities. A guide to the education system for BAME parents will also be launched. For booking details and further information please contact: Bianca Hinds Walters.

Crime and criminal justice

A rough guide to ethnic profiling

Black people are already 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in the UK. According to Liberty, the Home Office’s draft stop and search guidance could officially allow racial profiling in how stop search is used.

This proposal flies in the face of recommendations in Sir William Macpherson's Inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence and would also breach the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits race discrimination by public bodies.

Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 allows for a police officer to stop and search without suspicion in a designated area for a 24 hour period. The suggested amendments to the PACE guidance, which govern the exercise of police powers, state that whilst officers 'must also take particular care' not to discriminate, there 'may be circumstances where it is appropriate for officers to take account of an individual's ethnic origin in selecting persons and vehicles to be stopped'.

While it is limited to very specific cases of disorder where this power can be used, it sends a message that the use of ethnicity as a reason to stop and search is tolerated. BAME people are already heavily over-represented among stop and search figures as reported most recently by the Open Society Justice Initiative. Its research found that black people are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in the UK.

The amendments would also mean that police no longer have to record a 'stop and account', when a person is stopped by an officer and asked to account for their presence or actions. The requirement for police officers to record details of all stops, including the self-defined ethnicity of the person, was recommended in the Macpherson Report with the intention of improving accountability and safeguarding BAME communities from institutionalised racism.

The draft guidance is not available on the Home Office’s website and only a select few are being consulted about it.

ROTA has consistently been raising awareness of the disproportionate level of police activity experienced by BAME communities. We support StopWatch, a new action group launched by Reverend Jesse Jackson, that is working against the overrepresentation of BAME communities in stop and search statistics, and encourage you to do so also.

The report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry can be read here.

Youth Justice Board is abolished

The Youth Justice Board of England and Wales is to be abolished as part of Government’s reduction in the number of arms length bodies and quangos.

The Youth Justice Board oversees the youth justice system. It works to prevent offending and reoffending by those under the age of 18, and to ensure that custody for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour.

The responsibilities of the Youth Justice Board will be transferred back into the Ministry of Justice. This is an important development for BAME communities given the over-representation of BAME young people in the criminal justice system. BAME organisations, particularly those delivering services around offending and for victims of crime, will need to observe how the Ministry of Justice will seek service delivery into the future to ensure fairness and equality. ROTA will be monitoring this.

The Government’s announcement on the abolition of the Youth Justice Board is available here.

The Youth Justice Board’s response is available here.

Policing in the 21st Century

In September, the Runnymede Trust submitted evidence to Policing in the 21st century: Reconnecting police and people.

Runnymede’s submission, which highlights some of the key inequalities faced by BAME communities in relation to policing, can be read here.

EHRC triennial review

Black Caribbean and Pakistani babies are twice as likely to die in their first year as white British babies, reports the Equality and Human Rights Commission in its triennial review How Fair is Britain?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) three yearly review in the UK was published last month. This review, How Fair is Britain? is required from the EHRC under the Equality Act 2010 and outlines the state of equality in the UK using national statistics covering all the equality strands. Some of the more comprehensive data is on race but there remain some considerable gaps in knowledge. The review will inform EHRC’s future research plan and strategic priorities.

Some headline figures identified in the review include:

  • Black Caribbean and Pakistani babies are twice as likely to die in their first year as white British babies.

  • On average, five times more black people than white people are imprisoned in England and Wales, where one in four people in prison is BAME. There is now greater disproportionality in the number of black people in prisons in Britain than in the USA.

  • In England and Wales, the number of cases of racially and religiously motivated crime being reported to the police has fallen slightly since 2006/07. However, the conviction rate for racially and religiously motivated as well as homophobic and transphobic crimes has risen.

  • The risk of mental health problems is nearly twice as high for Bangladeshi than white men.

  • In England, Asian children are excluded at a rate of five per 10,000 students compared to 30 and 38 per 10,000 for black Caribbean and Gypsies and Traveller children respectively.

  • BAME people are more likely than white people to say that they are involved in local decision-making, campaigning or community organisations, such as those providing services to young people. They are also more likely to say that they have influence over local decisions.

Female Voice in Violence

Equality of circumstance

In her latest Guardian Society article, Carlene Firmin discusses equality for women and girls affected by gang violence.

Women’s National Commission is abolished

ROTA was disappointed to learn last month that the Women's National Commission (WNC) would be dissolved. The Women’s National Commission (WNC) was set up in 1969 as the national, independent organisation to present the views of women to Government. The WNC will be closed down on 31 December 2010 and its core functions brought into the Government Equalities Office (GEO), its sponsor department.

The GEO will consult later in the Autumn in order to develop a new model of engagement between women and Ministers.

At ROTA we have been supported by the WNC to develop our cross equalities work on gender and race, in particular our Female Voice in Violence project. In addition to enabling access to government officials via their Violence Against Women Working Group, and UN Advisory Groups, the WNC also nominated ROTA’s Senior Policy Officer, Carlene Firmin, to represent England at the United Nations 54th Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year, bringing the experiences of women and girls affected by serious youth violence to an international audience.

In our press release we stated that: ‘Despite the Government's insistence that the "world has moved on", gender and racial inequality continue to persist. The abolition of regulatory bodies whose function is to cultivate a climate of fairness and equality of opportunity for all could be detrimental to the economy and society as a whole. In this way and more, a society with reduced impartial oversight may lose its vision for the future.’

Read ROTA’s press release about the closure of the WNC here.

Read the WNC's press statement here.

Read more about the closure of the WNC here.

FVV call for participants

Since 2008 ROTA has conducted research on the impact of serious youth and gang violence on women and girls. Through Female Voice in Violence (FVV) we are currently surveying services who work with women and girls who may have been affected. If you work with women or girls we would appreciate if you could read the introductory letter and complete the survey by 15 December. Its findings will feature in the FVV annual review due to be published in March 2011. You can find further information on FVV here.

Health inequalities

Wealth of choice, poverty of support? the Health White Paper

Last month ROTA signed up to the Afiya Trust’s response to Government’s consultation on the Health White Paper. The White Paper proposes one of the biggest reforms of the health service ever seen. The Afiya Trust’s response highlighted the potential impact of the Paper on race equality in health and the BAME sector.

As part of the White Paper, Government is now consulting on Patient Choice.

Proposals to increase the choices that patients and service users have about their care would allow:

  • patients to choose services from any willing provider

  • choice of provider for diagnosis

  • choice of which team, led by a named consultant, that they want to be seen by and what that treatment is after diagnosis

  • maternity choice to include pre-conception, antenatal, and postnatal care

  • choice of treatment and provider in mental health services

  • the choice of end of life care, moving towards a national choice offer to be improved in the future in order to support those who wish to die at home.

Through its consultation on information, the Government says it aims to arm patients with comprehensive information and data on all aspects of their health and adult social care so they can take control and make informed decisions. It will give patients more control of their care record.

ROTA recognises patients need the best possible information if they are to be able to have choice over their care. We welcome the current consultations. We are particularly keen to ensure that strategies are put in place to engage BAME communities that face health inequalities and have been traditionally excluded from shaping and accessing health services. BAME organisations and community groups are ideally placed to help those who need support to exercise meaningful choice. ROTA will continue to support the work of the Afiya Trust on the Health White Paper.

The deadline for the current consultations is 14 January 2011.

HIV prevention among black Africans in England: a complex challenge

A Better Health paper examines the HIV epidemic facing black Africans in England. It gives an overview of the current epidemic, and considers HIV support and prevention needs and recommendations for policy and practice. It can be read here.

Minister announces re-shaping of mental health strategy

In September, Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, announced work to re-shape government’s mental health strategy. In an article for Community Care magazine the Minister calls for a wholesale shift in emphasis to give mental health parity with physical health in the NHS.

ROTA welcomes the recognition given by the Minister in his speech of the need to join together strategy to link poor mental health and deprivation, unemployment, housing, children’s services, environmental planning and community empowerment. He also spoke of the essential role of charities and community groups in supporting those with mental health issues.

We are aware that Government will not be consulting on its new mental health strategy, but is conducting a limited Equality Impact Assessment of proposed changes which we will be feeding into. We will continue to raise the following points made in our response to the previous government’s consultation on its latest mental health strategy launched earlier this year:

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

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

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

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

Paul Burstow’s article can be read here.

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

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

ROTA’s latest magazine on mental health

In September we launched the latest edition of our quarterly magazine, Agenda, with a special focus on mental health. It gathers together a number of experts in the field to present their view of the mental health landscape as experienced by BAME communities. It also highlights the unique and vital role grassroots BAME organisations play in addressing such inequalities and presents a number of inspirational case studies. Agenda can be read here. Hard copies can be ordered by contacting Ryan Mahan.

Inquiry into mental health services

Mind is commissioning an independent inquiry to investigate the state of crisis in mental health services. This includes adult in-patient services, crisis resolution teams and crisis houses.

From service users to staff, advocates, carers, commissioners and researchers – the independent inquiry team wants to hear about your experience, knowledge and ideas. You can find out more and complete Mind’s Care in Crisis inquiry survey here.

ROTA supports Mind’s work, which has in the past included a focus on the specific mental health inequalities faced by BAME communities and encourages organisations with views and evidence to get involved.

The deadline for submitting evidence is 17 November 2010.

Delivering Race Equality in Mental Healthcare

A new report has been published by the National Institute for Mental Health England on the community engagement element of government’s Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care programme which ran from 2005 until 2008.

The report documents the project's outcomes for individuals, communities and mental health service development and includes commentaries from mental health experts.

Government strategy for the voluntary and community sector

On 14 October 2010, government launched a new strategy for the voluntary and community sector and a consultation on the strategy.

‘Building a Stronger Civil Society. A strategy for voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises’sets out ‘the scale and nature of the opportunities being made available to civil society organisations as part of the government’s wider reform agenda’.

An Office for Civil Society consultation on improving support for frontline civil society organisations’ seeks views about ‘how central government can best play a role to support building infrastructure in the voluntary and community sector. It aims to end top-down initiatives that filter spending through multiple layers, and help to make the support received more relevant, simpler to obtain and in keeping with the agenda for the Big Society’.

The consultation closes on 6 January 2011. Please note that, due to specific timing requirements for any new strategic partners programme, responses to Question 9 should be received by 25 November 2010 (Question 9 asks ‘How can central Government best work with national infrastructure to support and deliver the Big Society?’)

Following consultation, the Government will consider the feedback to the consultation. A summary will be published in 2011 with the overall Government response to the consultation.

The announcement can be read here.

The strategy document can be read here.

The consultation document can be read here.

Comprehensive Spending Review

On 20 October the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). This outlined the cuts to the central and local government budgets from now until the end of 2015. It represents a significant reduction of funding for services and will have significant affect on communities and the services upon which they rely.

Here we present our initial thoughts on the likely impact of cuts on BAME communities and organisations.

Communities and Local Government is the Government department responsible for the budgets of local government and the Minister for race equality.

The budget for local Government will take a cut of 27 percent over the next four years; that is a cut of nearly seven percent every year for the next four years. There will be greater discretion for local authorities on how they spend this money with only health and schools funding to be ring-fenced. Local authorities will now be able to spend other funding that had been ring-fenced as they wish. There is therefore a great need in the coming years for BAME communities to engage with their local authorities to ensure that race equality is prioritised.

The general budget for Communities and Local Government, which covers its non-local government spending, will be cut by 51 percent. We are concerned about the potential impact this will have on centrally driven initiatives for delivering race equality and community cohesion.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) which is developing the legal framework for the Equality Act 2010 will also be significantly cut. The GEO will receive a 38 percent cut in funding over the next four years for its work and that of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Women’s National Commission. This will start with a 15 percent cut of £10 million next year.

The GEO has stated that it “will reduce its central staffing over the four year period, while taking on some of the functions currently managed by EHRC and the Women’s National Commission, delivering these for less total resource. GEO will also secure efficiencies by sharing services with EHRC and central suppliers, in accordance with Treasury initiatives’.

ROTA is concerned with that cuts to centrally funded race equality programmes and increased local authority discretion, will significantly reduce the level of funding available to organisations working on race equality.

ROTA will continue to monitor the impact of other cuts. We will observe how cuts to welfare and other departments will affect BAME communities.

Pledge your support for the BAME Sector

Voice4Change England is pleased to launch their newest publication ‘A Shared Vision for the Future of the BME Voluntary and Community Sector’. Following an in-depth study across the BAME sector, this publication identifies crucial areas of action for policy makers to strengthen and support the BAME Sector to target deprivation and challenge inequality.

A shared vision has been previewed at the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative 2010 party conferences, where V4CE hosted a series of events focusing on ‘Equality, fairness and the Big Society’.

Voice4Change England are now calling on the BAME and wider voluntary and community sector to join their campaign to raise awareness of the value of the BAME sector. You can find out more and pledge your support here.

London news

London Councils’ Commissioning Programme

London Councils currently awards £26.4 million funding to the voluntary and community sector each year through its commissioning programme. A significant proportion of this is targeted at disadvantaged BAME communities. London Councils is now consulting on the future of this fund, including its proposals to reduce it by up to 80%.

We are very concerned that the process to determine the future of London Councils’ commissioning programme is being rushed through too quickly. We are concerned that without careful consideration, a significant reduction in this fund risks irreversible damage to the BAME and other equality sectors in London. We urge you to respond to the online consultation which closes on 10 November, highlighting the need to take a more considered approach to decisions about the future of this important fund and the need for it.

Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) have produced a hard copy of the online consultation and a background paper which should be read alongside it.

If you would like help completing a response, please contact Barbara Nea or call 020 7729 1177. Alternatively, if you have any evidence on the importance of funding pan-London, sub-regional and cross-borough projects that address inequality, especially in relation to health, violence and victimisation and poverty, please email Barbara Nea.

ROTA is also working with MiNet and VSF to inform the London Councils consultation. Through its campaign, VSF have produced a range of resources including template letters you can use to write to local councillors and MPs with any concerns you have about the impact of cutting this fund.

This consultation follows one in January this year on future priorities for the commissioning programme, to which ROTA sent a comprehensive reply having consulted our membership.

Read Alison Benjamin’s article on the review of London Councils’ commissioning programme in the Guardian on 8 September here.

Migration and integration in London

London stands out from the rest of the UK in the number of residents born overseas, but also as the favoured UK destination for young and economically active migrants.

To inform its work on maximising the opportunities and addressing the challenges, the Greater London Authority commissioned 'An evidence base on migration and integration in London', which was published last month. The report includes a review of the latest demographic data on the capital, showing the changing nature of migration in London and a review of the evidence on barriers to and opportunities for integration for London’s migrants. It also outlines key areas for intervention for the Mayor’s strategy for London.

'An evidence base on migration and integration in London' can be read here.

Mayor to chair crime reduction board for London

In September, Boris Johnson, the Met Police, London Councils, the Metropolitan Police Authority and key crime reduction agencies launched a new board tasked with developing a regional response to crime in London.

Chaired by the Mayor, the Crime Reduction Board will ensure for the first time key organisations are working together in partnership and will also replace smaller crime related bodies to develop a unified approach to tackling serious crime in the capital.

Read the Mayor’s suggestions on how to tackle this serious issue here.

The board will aim to:

  • identify priority crime issues that London public services must jointly work together to tackle

  • streamline existing boards

  • identify and target use of best practice

  • strengthen relationships between criminal justice organisations, crime prevention and community safety activity

  • coordinate funding programmes and maximise the value from each organisation's limited resources through joint planning.

You can find out more here.

MiNet’s latest news

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


Hansib Publications commemorates 40th anniversary with Gala Reception

Hansib Publications is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this November. Founded in 1970 by Guyana-born Arif Ali, Hansib is widely acknowledged as having established regular visible minority publishing in the United Kingdom.

A notable newspaper and periodical publisher in the 1970s, Hansib now produces varied and original books about many countries and peoples around the world and the experience of ethnic minority people in Britain.

Hansib Publications will commemorate 40 years in the business with a special Gala reception on 20 November.

Hansib books are now available throughout Britain in bookshops, libraries, schools, colleges, universities and specialist outlets. A growing network of distributors in the Caribbean and North America has ensured that Hansib books are available in many countries, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Canada, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.

Download: Hansib Catalogue 2010: Catalogue of Books, bookstores & order online.

ROTA staff speak out

Elizabeth Henry, CEO

Carlene Firmin, FVV Coordinator

You can see ROTA staff facilitate at the following events:

Rahana Mohammed, Head of Policy

Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer


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





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.