London: Prime Minister Theresa May challenged British institutions and employers on Tuesday to “explain or change” racial disparities in society, as she published data showing ethnic-minority Britons are more likely to be unemployed and less likely to rise to the top in the public sector than their white counterparts.
May said businesses and public institutions must ensure race is never a barrier to people achieving their goals in life.
The racial disparity audit, released as a website Tuesday, compiles statistics on some 130 topics to show how people from all backgrounds are treated by the health, education, employment and criminal justice systems.
Most of the data is not new, but it has been presented in one place for the first time. It covers a wide range of areas including imprisonment rates, mental-health conditions, housing standards and internet use.
Among the findings: the unemployment rate for black, Asian and minority ethnic people, at 8 per cent, is nearly double the 4.6 per cent for white British adults, ethnic minorities are underrepresented at senior levels across the public sector, and white people are more likely to own their homes than members of other groups.
The data also shows that white children from poor backgrounds have some of the worst results in tests during primary school.
May announced that ending social discrimination was one of her goals in her first speech as prime minister in July 2016. But her government has become bogged down with Brexit negotiations and infighting, and May was weakened after her Conservative Party lost seats in a snap election in June.
May is trying to regain momentum on social policy with the audit, which she called an “essential resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustice.”
“People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge,” May said. “But this audit means that for society as a whole — for government, for our public services — there is nowhere to hide.”