“Overall the findings will be uncomfortable,” she said in a round-table discussion with her cabinet. “But it’s right that we’ve identified them, shone a light on them and we need to confront these issues that we have identified.”
The audit found that the unemployment rate for black, Asian and other ethnic-minority people, at 8 percent, was nearly double that of white British adults, at 4.6 percent. And the difference was larger in the north of the country than in the south.
“People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge,” Mrs. May said on Tuesday. “But this audit means that for society as a whole — for government, for our public services — there is nowhere to hide. These issues are now out in the open. And the message is very simple: If these disparities cannot be explained, then they must be changed.”
Other key data from the report revealed significant inequality in homeownership, showing that white people and those with Indian and Pakistani backgrounds were more likely to own homes than were black people and those from a Bangladeshi background, even after taking into account age, income and socioeconomic group.
The audit also showed how some white British groups were falling behind in education compared with Chinese and Asian groups. Attainment data showed that white British primary school students eligible for free school meals — a program widely used as a proxy for poverty — performed worse than any other group, with only 32 percent reaching the expected level.
A study published last year by the Sutton Trust, an education charity, found that while poverty lowered educational outcomes, disadvantaged students from Chinese, Bangladeshi and black African backgrounds tended to perform better than their white working-class peers.
“Several explanations have been proposed for this shift,” the Sutton Trust report said. “The popularity of private tutors among ethnic groups and the latter’s concentration in large urban areas such as London (where average results have improved in recent years, with some suggesting that ethnic minorities have driven this progress), the impact of supplementary schools, and differing levels of parental aspiration, among others.”
At the time of Britain’s latest national census, in 2011, about 86 percent of people described themselves as white, with 80.5 percent saying white British. Around 7.5 percent said they were Asian or Asian British — those with Indian backgrounds made up the largest section of this group, followed by those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds — and around 3.3 percent described themselves as black, African/Caribbean, or black British.
The data from Tuesday’s audit was published on a new government “Ethnicity Facts and Figures” website, which will be kept up-to-date by a specialist unit, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
While the report has been welcomed by members of Parliament, government institutions and charities working to tackle the issues laid out in the report, they have called for a comprehensive and coherent strategy that will result in action.
“Only by taking focused action to tackle race inequality can Britain become a fair country in which individuals can reach their potential and our communities can live and work together to create a strong economy and a cohesive society,” said David Isaac, the chairman of Britain’s public anti-discrimination body, The Equality and Human Rights Commission.
On Tuesday, the government introduced several programs to address some of the disparities identified in the audit.
The Department for Work and Pensions began a series of programs and measures to tackle unemployment in 20 hot-spot areas, including training and mentoring programs for minorities. The Department for Education announced a review on how and when pupils were suspended or expelled from schools, something the audit found happened disproportionately to children from Roma, Irish Traveler and black Caribbean backgrounds.
The government also reiterated its commitment to consider some recommendations from a report by the opposition lawmaker David Lammy on how the criminal justice system treats people from ethnic minorities.
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