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Black community rejects single equalities merger

Exclusive by Lester Holloway

THE GOVERNMENT has conceded that Black communities are opposed to the single equalities merger. An internal report seen by Blink shows that Black people responded to government consultation in unprecedented numbers.

Tony Blair and Patricia Hewitt face a choice over the single equalities body in the face of Black opposition
Tony Blair and Patricia Hewitt face a choice over the single equalities body in the face of Black opposition

Blink has learnt that Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt is considering leaving race out of the single equalities body after Black communities and the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) gave it the thumbs-down.

The Department of Trade and Industry's consultation over the 'Fairness for All'  White Paper showed the vast majority of Black people rejected the plans.

Black organisations made up the biggest category of respondents. There were 96 'race' responses to the consultation, including organisations who gave detailed feedback to The 1990 Trust.

Responses to the DTI's Fairness for All consultation
Responses to the DTI's Fairness for All consultation

Karen Chouhan, chief executive of the 1990 Trust, said: “Over 300 people attended eight regional meetings we held across the country.

“The overwhelming message was that Black communities are saying 'no' to the single equalities commission.

“43 of them have provided detailed responses to us. 53 Black organisations gave their response directly to the DTI.

“The clear message is that Black communities and the CRE will not accept being part of this new arrangement.

The government must now go back to the drawing board and begin a new consultation with Black communities about setting up a structure that keeps race on the agenda.”

The figure of 96 responses may be even higher. Blink understands that the vast majority of the 23 “individual” respondents are Black, which would push the Black feedback to well over 110.

Image shows a section from the FFA summary of responses document which   say  ..With the exception of BME organisations and the CRE , all   respondents generally support the establishment of the CEHR...

Always look on the bright side: DTI paper finds a silver lining after Black groups reject plans

The CRE voted to reject the DTI's proposals and Blink has learnt that DTI civil servants have now accepted that race will be left out of the proposed new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR). That means the CRE would survive the merger.

In that scenario, the existing gender-specific Equal Opportunities Commission (EoC) and the Disability Rights Commission (DRC)

 - quote - The overwhelming message was that Black communities are saying 'no' to the single equalities commission  - unquote -

Karen Chouhan            The 1990 Trust 

would be merged with new equality subjects of sexual orientation, age, religion and human rights.

Another option which is being investigated is leaving all three existing commissions as they are, with the four new areas coming together into a new CEHR.

That would buy ministers time to try and persuade CRE chair Trevor Phillips to come on board.

Despite the CRE rejecting the single equalities body, they have appointed chief executive Sheila Rogers to a new steering group to implement the new set up.

The DTI internal paper on the White Paper consultation says: “Led by the CRE and the 1990 Trust, respondents from BME

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organisations were generally opposed to the CEHR, believing that race equality would not be best served through a single…body, and that the necessary focus (including resources) would be lost.

“The 1990 Trust and some others continue to press for six equality commissions and a seperate human rights commission (6+1).” The one BME group identified with supporting the government was the Confederation of Indian Organisations, which has close links with veteran Labour Southall MP Piara Khabra.


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