Black-led human rights organisation The 1990 Trust reacted with scepticism at the announcement today by Ruth Kelly (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government DCLG) that yet another equalities commission was being established.
Ms Kelly announced the creation of a 'Commission for Integration and Cohesion'… but The 1990 Trust believes what is needed is NOT another talking shop but real action to tackle the problems identified by previous research.
We want existing race laws fully implemented and a programme for delivering true race equality in our lifetime – practical action that does not require another commission.
The government has not yet fully implemented the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry or adequately enforced implementation of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.
Karen Chouhan, trustee of The 1990 Trust, said: 'We need to guard against 'commissionitus', a never-ending conveyor-belt of commissions, reviews and talking shops.
‘'We know what the problems are: a failure to make real progress in creating true race equality in Britain, such as equal outcomes in employment, education, housing, health etc.
'And we know what the problems are not: they are not due to a failure of Black communities to integrate. Instead much of the blame must be laid at the failure of indigenous white communities to willingly embrace multicultural Britain.
‘Black people want the right to real race equality, not more emphasis on integration. Let's concentrate on delivering policies that actually make a difference rather than throwing money at another talking shop but not acting to change the problems we already know about.'
With so many committees, commissions and toolkits – the delivery of race equality will drown in a managerialist framework that cramps resources and efforts into the managing of processes not outcomes.
The 1990 Trust published a Black Manifesto at the last general election (2005), which argued for policies to create “equality in our lifetime.” We believe this is a practical programme that can be started immediately.
There are many questions about this Commission on Integration and Cohesion and the relationship with the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights (CEHR) and the recent Equalities Review, headed by CRE chairman Trevor Phillips.
The Equalities Review has not even completed its work reviewing the government's equalities policies. (The interim report has been roundly criticised by a wide range of equalities groups). In addition there is a Discrimination Law Review and a plethora of other equality committees and initiatives.
To confuse matters further, Mr Phillips had a few months ago suggested a ‘Commission for Integration and Citizenship’ but say the DCLG their new commission is not that. The distinction is that Ms Kelly’s new commission is a fixed term, more ad hoc advisory group, whereas Mr Phillips was asking for an institutionalised permanent longstanding commission.
The chair of this new commission is a Darra Singh – previous chief executive at Ealing borough council– the post was not advertised because the DCLG say they don’t need to on fixed term commissions.
So much, then, for consultation and transparency. It does not bode well for the proposed CEHR due to start work next year.
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Department for Communities & Local Government: 2005 Citizenship Survey (Pdf)