William Eichler 11 June 2018

Data on racial inequalities ‘inconsistent’, MPs say

The collection of data regarding racial inequalities in public services is ‘inconsistent’, MPs have found.

A report published today by the Women and Equalities Committee has warned the ability of the Race Disparity Audit to lead to tangible change is put at risk by a lack of consistency in how data is collected across Government.

The Audit, launched in 2016 by the Prime Minister, examined racial disparities in public services and across Government with the intention of influencing policy to solve the problems found.

The Government has said that ‘publishing the data allows people to see how services are performing and highlight where changes are needed. It also challenges us all to show leadership, take accountability and identify where we need to do things differently’.

However, the committee’s report found that while some data sets are detailed, the categories used to collect information vary widely and should be brought in line with those used in the census.

The authors also recommended that efforts should be made to ensure data is robust enough to be comparable, including over time and that region.

They called on the Government to produce an action plan to improve the consistency and robustness of the data it collects based on ethnicity, to be implemented within 12 months.

The committee also recommended the development of a cross-government race equality strategy.

‘We strongly commend the principle and sound intentions of the Race Disparity Audit. As the Prime Minister has said herself, it has helped expose many uncomfortable truths,’ said the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP.

‘However, the picture at present is that data collection across different areas of government and public services is inconsistent, not properly joined up and in some cases just isn’t happening. That isn’t good enough.

‘We look forward to seeing the results of the ‘explain or change’ analysis that is being conducted by individual departments. But we need co-ordinated action, and it needs to come from the top.

‘Ministers must review and build upon what they have started if their laudable aim of tackling injustice is to be realised.’

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