The Equality and Human Rights Commission has today published a progress report on equalities in the UK entitled, ‘Is Britain Fairer?’
‘Is Britain Fairer? The state of equality and human rights 2015’ is the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s statutory five-yearly report on equality and human rights progress in England, Scotland and Wales. It follows the publication in 2010 of the seminal report, ‘How Fair is Britain?’ and the Commission’s 2012 progress report on human rights, ‘Human Rights Review’.
The report forms part of the Commission’s statutory duty to produce periodic reports on equality and human rights progress in England, Scotland and Wales.
The report covers 10 domains and lists indicators which are used to evaluate progress on equality in each domain. The ten domains are: education; standard of living; productive and valued activities; health; life; physical security; legal security; individual, family and social life; identity, expression and self-respect; and participation, influence and voice.
The report draws on a range of government sources, official publications and quantitative analyses. The report notes a sizable time lag in the data sources used with much of the core quantitative data covering the period from 2008 to 2013.
The report highlights a number of issues concerning equality and religious and ethnic minorities in the UK.
The report reinforces much of what is known about high unemployment rates among British Muslim men and women noting:
- Muslims have experienced the highest unemployment rates (particularly Muslim men in England), and also the lowest employment rates (especially in Scotland and Wales).
- The employment rate for Pakistani/Bangladeshi people remained the lowest (48.2% in 2013), despite a significant improvement between 2008 and 2013.
- The highest unemployment rate was among Pakistanis/Bangladeshis (17.3%) in 2013.
- Pakistani/Bangladeshi women were less than half as likely to be employed compared with average employment rates for other women.
On wage levels and comparative rates of pay, the report notes the wage disadvantage experienced by British Muslims:
- Muslims have experienced the lowest (and decreasing) hourly pay rates between 2008 and 2013 and, along with Sikhs, have the highest pay gaps compared with those with no religion, earning 22.5% and 19.1% less, respectively, in 2013.
- Some ethnic minority people, Muslims and disabled people experienced greater declines in average pay.
On relative poverty and deprivation, the report notes the poor living conditions among British Muslims:
- In 2011/13 a higher proportion of households headed by someone who was Black (27.9%) or Pakistani/ Bangladeshi (26.3%) lived in substandard housing.
- Children and young people from Pakistani/ Bangladeshi, Black or ‘Other’ ethnicity households had a particularly high poverty rate of between 43.2% and 49.3% who was White (20.5%).
- Some ethnic minority working age people had a higher mean deprivation score in 2012/13 compared with White people, ranging from 2.0 for Pakistani/Bangladeshi people, 1.9 for Black people and 1.2 for people of ‘Other’ ethnicities compared with 0.9 for White people.
On education, the report notes improvements made in educational attainment and the narrowing of the attainment gap between White pupils and pupils from BME backgrounds:
- General improvements in educational attainment in schools; in England, a narrowing of the attainment gap between White pupils and Pakistani/Bangladeshi and African/Caribbean/Black pupils.
- In Great Britain, White people were less likely to have no qualifications (9.4%) than Pakistani/Bangladeshi people (23%) and ‘Other’ ethnic groups. (13.2%) in 2013. The gap between White and Pakistani/Bangladeshi people narrowed over the period, with the latter seeing a larger decrease in the percentage of people with no qualifications.
The report includes details of prisoner experiences noting that “Prisoners from ethnic minority groups and Muslim prisoners continued to report a poorer experience in prisons.”
The report also highlights the lack of progress in career progression among minorities stating, “Some ethnicities were under-represented at senior levels of both the private and public sectors and some ethnic minority people were significantly under-represented in manager, director and senior official occupations.”
On discrimination, harassment and hate crime, the report mentions the spike in Islamophobia following the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013. On hate crime experienced by Muslims in England, Scotland and Wales, the report notes:
- In Wales, 19.5% of people from ethnic minority groups reported harassment, discrimination and abuse, compared with 6.8% of people from the White ethnic group.
- 8% of people from religious minority groups in Wales reported harassment, discrimination and abuse, compared with 8.2% of those with no religion.
- In England, younger people from ethnic minorities were more likely to report experiencing harassment on the basis of skin colour, race or religion.
- In Scotland, ethnic minorities were more likely to report harassment. People with ‘another religion’ were more likely to report this (14%) than those identifying as having no religion (6%), Church of Scotland (4%), Roman Catholic (7%) and ‘Other Christian’ (6%).
The report covers forced marriages noting that “There are no reliable estimates currently of the prevalence of forced marriage.” It records the support provided by the Forced Marriage Unit “to 1,267 cases of a possible forced marriage in the UK in 2014.”
The report also includes this disturbing finding: “Among ethnic minority respondents in England, the highest proportions of people at risk of poor mental health in 2012 were among Pakistani/Bangladeshi and African/ Caribbean/Black respondents (22.9% and 19.9% respectively). The higher rate among Pakistani/Bangladeshi people was primarily among women.”
With the Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of a review to be overseen by Louise Casey into disadvantage among minority communities and improving their access to education and employment, the EHRC’s progress report is timely.