A new policy briefing has called for racial inequalities to be tackled as part of an inclusive economic growth agenda for the North.
The briefing, entitled ‘Class, Race and Inequality in Northern Towns’, shows that the North is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of ethnic and racial identities.
Drawing on figures from the Office for National Statistics, the paper argues that while the North is still on average less diverse than the rest of England and Wales (9% as opposed to 14%), Northern cities still have some of the largest minority populations in the country due to older post-colonial communities.
Written by The Runnymede Trust, and drawing on figures from 2011, the briefing shows that diversity has also increased because of recently arrived migrants. It is up 69% in the North West, 68% in Yorkshire and Humber, and 74% in the North East.
The increasingly diverse nature of Northern towns, the paper argues, means that the political and media narrative about the ‘white, northern working class’ is inaccurate. This ignores ethnic minority working class communities.
The paper, which was co-written by the Leeds’ Commission on Diversity in the North, argues that it is ‘vital’ to develop an inclusive narrative of a multi-ethnic working class.
It also adds that it is important to tackle inequalities that affect all working-class people regardless of ethnicity.
‘Racial inequalities are a feature of modern Britain but they run deeper in the North of England – in towns and smaller places,’ said Dr Roxana Barbulescu, who leads the Commission on Diversity in the North project with Professor Adrian Favell.
‘Yet the North is not a monolithic area and there is remarkable variation between cities and towns.
‘Future plans for regeneration of Northern cities and towns have to reflect and cater to their racially diverse population.’