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Is this the man who destroyed the CRE?

4/9/2006

TREVOR PHILLIPS completes three years at the helm of Britain's premier race body by overseeing a massive slash in the CRE's funding.

cap
Asset stripper: Trevor Phillips

The Commission for Racial Equality's budget will be chopped by £6 million, a Home Office source said.

Last Friday Blink reported that Phillips had been appointed as the head of the government's new super equalities body.

Today we can reveal the CRE's grant next year will shrink by a third. From next April they will get just £13m, down from the current £19m.

Meanwhile Phillips' own pay packet rocketed to a whopping £150,000 a year – more than even Cabinet ministers like his boss Home Secretary John Reid gets.

coining it

Phillips raked in an inflation-busting 13% increase from £120,000 salary he got in the previous year. It is understood Phillips wants to continue as CRE chair while chairing the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) at the same time, possibly doubling his salary.

cap
London Mayor Ken Livingstone talks to wannabe politicians last year.

His appointment CEHR chair has been widely condemned by anti-racist groups furious at his frequent attacks on multiculturalism.

Phillips is the leading force behind New Labour's “cohesion and integration” agenda, including the need for immigrants to feel more British and learn Shakespeare and Dickens.

Critics accuse Phillips of effectively wrecking the CRE and scrapping the body's legal help for victims of race discrimination.

He may have also sanctioned moves to cut the total budget for the CEHR. Government ministers had previously talked of £70m per year but Blink understands that Phillips' first year in charge will see a grant of only £57m, to cover seven different equalities subjects.

expensive

And despite promises that the CRE would continue running until 2009, ministers have now decided to cut short the CRE's life by a year.

Under the new plans the CRE will officially wind up in early 2008. Unofficially the CRE has been winding down for some time, with many senior staff jumping ship.

The organisation 'celebrates' its 30th birthday later this year, and Phillips has organised a swish conference to mark the occasion with tickets starting at a cool £350 for voluntary sector bodies.

Last week Ken Livingstone accused Phillips of “trying to move the race agenda away from the celebration of multiculturalism and pandering to the right.”

The London Mayor added: 'I think I have to say it's an absolutely disgraceful.' He also said Phillips had turned the CRE into a “vast press department” at the expense of legal work on individual race cases.

train-wreck

A CRE spokesperson hit back: 'If anything our press team has shrunk in size and now consists of two press officers, a head of Communications and a Director. Our legal team has grown and consists of 39 officers in England and Wales.'

Blink understands this statement to be misleading. We believe there are 28 staff in their 'Strategy and Communications' department.

The figure of 39 legal officers may relate to local Race Equality Councils around the country, but the actual number of principal legal officers based at the CRE's south London headquarters is believed to number only four or five.

Last year the CRE only provided full legal representation to three individual race discrimination victims, with no part-funded cases supported.

The previous year (2003/4) the CRE fully-funded just one case, and three part-funded cases. A number of CRE legal assistants are said to be busy turning cases down.

switched

Phillips will take up his post on the single equalities body, covering the areas of race, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender, religion and human rights, when the body starts work in October 2007.

The Labour ex-chair of the London Assembly is widely seen as an overtly political figure who will side with the government instead of grassroots communities.

The former TV presenter first supported the CEHR's creation only to change his tune when black communities and MPs united in opposition. Now Phillips has switched again, supporting the creation of the super-commission he once described as a “train wreck waiting to happen.”

During Phillips brief period when he was against the CEHR, he asked ministers to extend the life of the CRE for an additional two years despite critics saying the race body would become an 'empty husk.'

Campaigners believe Phillips was asking for the wrong thing, and that he should have been fighting for a statutory race committee within the CEHR.

GB

Exclusive by Lester Holloway


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Resources:

Teeth and their use

Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: One year On

The Zahid Mubarek Inquiry

pdf Dept. for Communities & Local Government Citizenship Survey

Responses to the Equalities Review Interim Report

The 1990 Trust Response to The Equalities Review Interim Report

Equalities Review Interim Report Briefing – Addressing Race Equality

pdf Our Rights, Our Future

pdf Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: The Government's race strategy

CRE response to DTI Statement on Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Equality and Diversity Forum welcomes the progress on a Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Summary of Changes to the CEHR

The 1990 Trust’s response to the CEHR White Paper

pdf Delivering equality and human rights for black and minority ethnic communities

Flush the academic racism in Blunkett’s office down the pan

Jacqui Smith answers questions on the Single Equalities Body

How to Contact your MP

Links:

Race and Faith and Communities

Election Memory

Catalyst Magazine

UNITE TO PROTECT OUR RIGHTS: sign the statement against the erosion of civil liberties and human rights by new anti-terrorism proposals A Black Manifesto No 2 ID FREE FAROUQ PDP ASSOCIATES Power to the People

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