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Whitehall departments are perilously close to being subjected to enforcement action for failure to deliver on their...
Whitehall departments are perilously close to being subjected to enforcement action for failure to deliver on their legal duties under the Race Relations Amendment Act (2000) stated the Commission for Racial Equality said today.

As the recognised body which can enforce compliance of the Act, the CRE has found that Whitehall departments have failed in their duty to put race equality at the heart of their service delivery.

By law, central government departments are required to assess new policies and legislation for their impact on race equality.

The CRE found 15 government departments to be non-compliant.

The widespread failure of departments to implement their own legislation sets a bad example to other public bodies which the CRE has to hold to account, and makes an essential race equality measure almost inoperable.

Poor policy and legislation can have a detrimental effect upon the communities it seeks to serve and result in wasted expenditure.

Nick Johnson, director of policy and public sector, said:

Vital legal measures were introduced to address the problems of racial inequality and discrimination. Making sure that we tackle inequalities is a responsibility for everybody, including Whitehall departments and they must deliver on their promises.

Race equality should not be treated as an add-on, but mainstreamed into all policies. The consequences of ignoring it can be dramatic - whole communities faced with unmanaged discrimination. Who would believe that health, education and business policies, for example, would not have an impact on race?

We want to avoid the situation where money is wasted in the interest of political correctness. Whitehall may want to do the right thing, but because it hasn't bothered to do its homework and identify where services are needed most, good intentions become money poorly spent that perpetuates racial inequality.


Race equality schemes (RESs) and race equality impact assessments (REIAs):

Since 2002 Whitehall departments have been required by law to publish an action plan that sets out how, as an organisation, they will address racial inequality - this is known as a Race Equality Scheme (RES).

New policies and laws should be assessed for their impact on race equality in society - a process known as a Race Equality Impact Assessment (REIA). CRE research shows that central government is consistently failing carry out REIAs.

These processes fall under the Race Equality Duty, introduced in 2001 as an amendment to the 1976 Race Relations Act.

Legislation and policies which would have benefited from a REIA:

The Children's Bill - a REIA would have highlighted that parental smacking 'leaving a red mark on the skin' is only relevant to people with white skin.

'Strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation' cost the government millions and would have an unquestionable relevance to race.

Had the US government done a REIA of its flood responses in New Orleans it would have identified that much of the suffering would be heaped on one community and forced the government to do something about it.

The table below outlines the number of Race Equality Impact Assessments, by department, in 2004-05. Press releases alone indicate that hundreds of policies are developed each year. A significant proportion will be relevant to race.

Department Number of impact assessments conducted between April 2004 and March 2005

Ministry of Defence (MOD) 20

Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) 19

Cabinet Office 18

Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) 11

Home Office (HO) 10

Department for Environment, Fisheries & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 9

Department for Transport (DT) 8

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) 8

Department of Health (DH) 0

HM Treasury (HMT) 0

Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) 0

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) 0

Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) 0

Department for Education & Skills (DfES) impossible to state

Department for International Development 0

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