The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minorities shows there’s “so much more to do” to promote racial equality, says London Councils.
In its submission to the national Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, the cross-party group highlights the proactive role local government should play in tackling inequality and emphasises London boroughs’ determination to make faster progress.
This is a particular priority in the capital, where around 40% of residents are from ethnic minorities. Research suggests those with BAME backgrounds have between a 10% and 50% higher risk of death from Covid-19 compared to white Britons. The economic turmoil caused by the pandemic has also had a major impact on BAME Londoners, as they constitute 38% of London’s workers with the highest risk of losing their job.
In response London Councils – which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation – has launched a pan-London programme to support boroughs’ initiatives in addressing racial inequality. The key challenges it will focus on include:
- Councils’ role as employers. Boroughs are committing to act as exemplars of inclusive workforces. For example, boroughs will share best practice on recruitment and ensure their organisations are representative of the communities they serve – particularly in terms of senior management.
- Economic opportunity. Data on hourly pay shows BAME Londoners are paid substantially less per hour (£13.50) than Londoners on average (£15.70). London’s ethnicity pay gap is higher than any other region at 23.8%. Boroughs are seeking to help address this through local skills-boosting initiatives and through supporting pan-London action on reducing structural inequalities in the labour market.
- Education and schooling experience. Boroughs will learn from each other’s experience of raising aspirations and outcomes among ethnic minority children. A particularly prominent issue in London is the disproportionate number of school exclusions among boys from Black Caribbean backgrounds. Black Caribbean boys in London schools are more than twice as likely to experience a fixed-term exclusion than their White British classmates.
- Disproportionality in the criminal justice system. With BAME Londoners more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes when encountering the criminal justice system, boroughs are focused on supporting young people through their children’s services and youth offending teams. In partnership with criminal justice agencies, boroughs aim to reduce inequalities and secure better results.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, London Councils’ Executive Member for Welfare, Empowerment & Inclusion, said:
“We pride ourselves on living in a diverse and multicultural city, but there remain deeply entrenched racial inequalities that cannot be allowed to continue.
“The events of this year have shown there’s so much more to do on the equality agenda. When the government talks about levelling up the country, that ambition must also include addressing racial inequality and breaking down the barriers that hold back too many Britons.
“Councils have a crucial role to play through providing local leadership, targeting resources, and designing services to support fairer and more inclusive outcomes in our communities. While we acknowledge the enormous scale of the challenge, London boroughs are determined to work together and help secure faster progress. This is going to be a key priority as we shape London’s post-pandemic recovery in the coming months and years.”