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Give us a piece of the pie

by Lester Holloway

BLACK COMMUNITIES have demanded a stake in the new single equalities body, according to a new report.

Debbie Gupta, Lee Jasper and Karen Chouhan
DTI's Debbie Gupta, Lee Jasper and 1990 Trust boss Karen Chouhan at a consultation event.

A study by The 1990 Trust, the result of a nationwide consultation, has called for a race committee within the government's proposed new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR).

The new 55-page report called 'Our Rights, Our Future' was launched today in response to government plans to merge race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion and human rights into one body.

One of the central recommendations is for a race committee and ring-fenced resources. The demands amount to a radical departure from proposals contained in the government's Equality Bill.


The Bill, being piloted through parliament by trade secretary Alan Johnson, only allows for a Disability Committee. The overwhelming view of Black communities consulted by The 1990 Trust is that race should be treated equally to disabilities.

Consultation event
Participants at a consultation event looking at the new single equalities body.

The 1990 Trust held nine regional consultation events in April and May involving 160 Black voluntary organisations and individuals.

It was the second national consultation the black-led human rights charity has held over plans to axe the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and merge it into a single equalities body.

Last autumn The 1990 Trust held eight consultative meetings with Black communities across Britain over the DTI's 'Fairness for All' white paper. Most respondents gave the CEHR a huge thumbs-down.


Responding to the criticism, former trade minister Jacqui Smith announced improvements to the CEHR last March, strengthening enforcement powers and including a recognition that different equalities subjects needed individual tailored approaches instead of all being lumped together.

Our Rights, Our Future’ The CEHR & Black Communities

/files/includes/images/pdf-  document,-requires-software-such-as-adobe-acrobat-reader.jpg Recommendations (Pdf)

/files/includes/images/pdf-  document,-requires-software-such-as-adobe-acrobat-reader.jpg Full Report (Pdf, 1,175 KB)

The latest 'Our Rights, Our Future' consultation, involving more detailed feedback on the Equality Bill, revealed that Black communities believe the government has still not gone far enough.

Those consulted believed that a more progressive and innovative approach was needed in order to engage Black communities.

Black communities called for a CEHR race committee and department to have a ring-fenced minimum funding equivalent to the current annual CRE budget of £20 million.


Our Rights, Our Future also recommended that the race committee oversee a race equality section of the annual 'State of the Nation' report proposed in the Equalities Bill.

 - quote - If the new body is to make any real progress the starting point has to be a structure that recognises race. - unquote -
Karen Chouhan

Karen Chouhan, chief executive of The 1990 Trust, said: “Progress in tackling racism has been painfully slow. I want to see equality in my lifetime, not in 100 or 200 years time.

“In many respects we are going backwards on equality. If the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights is to make any real progress that benefits communities the starting point has to be a structure that recognises race.”

“To achieve equality in our lifetime a lot more is needed. What we are asking for is simply the starting point. Any less and the new body will struggle to make in-roads in tackling racism.”

Our Rights, Our Future report, written by consultants Rob Neil and Alpa Patel, is the result of consultation meetings with key community leaders in Leicester, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Swansea, Milton Keynes, Bristol, London and Leeds.

There was broad support for the CEHR to have its' headquarters in London, but with strong regional offices. Civil servants are believed to be considering squeezing the single equalities body into the existing gender-specific Equal Opportunities Commission building in Manchester.

A previous report on the single equalities body published by The 1990 Trust in 2003, called 'A Vision of Equality' set out concerns about the merger a year before the government's white paper.

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pdf Strength in Diversity: A Response from the 1990 Trust and associated organisations

Fuel on the Fire

Supporting Victims of Racist Abuse and Violence

Managing Diversity

Connecting Communities

A Vision of Equality

Race Equality Management Module

The Black to Black Archive

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