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  • Writer's pictureCohesive Society

BAME communities in The United Kingdom: their needs and how to help level it up

Updated: Mar 29




Introduction


The Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in the United Kingdom have faced significant challenges in various aspects of their lives, including housing, employment, health, education, integration, and cohesion. These issues have resulted in disparities in opportunities, outcomes, and experiences, affecting the well-being and social inclusion of BAME individuals and communities. This essay explores the needs of BAME communities in the UK and how to help level up their experiences in different domains, focusing on housing, employment, health, education, integration, cohesion, and stake in society. It draws on relevant literature and policy initiatives to highlight the key challenges and opportunities for promoting equity and social justice for BAME individuals and communities in the UK.


Housing


Housing is a crucial aspect of well-being and social inclusion, yet BAME communities in the UK face significant disparities in housing access, quality, affordability, and security (Gilroy & Lawrence, 2018). For instance, BAME individuals are more likely to live in overcrowded or substandard housing, experience discrimination in the private rental sector, and face barriers in accessing social housing (CRER, 2020). These issues are compounded by structural inequalities such as poverty, discrimination, and exclusion, which limit the choices and opportunities of BAME individuals and communities.

Various policy interventions are needed to help level up the housing experiences of BAME communities in the UK. These include addressing discrimination and bias in the private rental sector, increasing the supply of affordable and secure social housing, improving the quality and standards of private rented accommodation, and promoting community-led housing initiatives that empower BAME communities (Gilroy & Lawrence, 2018). Additionally, policies that tackle wider inequalities in income, employment, and wealth are also essential for addressing the root causes of housing disparities among BAME communities (CRER, 2020).


Employment


Employment is vital to social inclusion and economic well-being, yet BAME communities in the UK face significant disparities in employment opportunities, outcomes, and experiences (Gover, 2020). For instance, BAME individuals are more likely to experience unemployment, underemployment, low pay, and precarious work, despite having similar qualifications and skills as their White counterparts (Runnymede Trust, 2021). These disparities are exacerbated by discrimination, bias, and stereotyping, which limit the choices and opportunities of BAME individuals and communities.

Various policy interventions are needed to help level up the employment experiences of BAME communities in the UK. These include promoting diversity and inclusion in recruitment and retention practices, tackling discrimination and bias in the workplace, improving access to education, training, and apprenticeships, and addressing wider inequalities in the labour market (Gover, 2020). Additionally, initiatives that empower BAME entrepreneurs support BAME-led businesses, and promote community-based economic development are also crucial for enhancing the economic resilience and empowerment of BAME communities (Runnymede Trust, 2021).


Health


Health is a fundamental aspect of well-being and social inclusion, yet BAME communities in the UK face significant disparities in health outcomes, access, and experiences (Public Health England, 2017). For instance, BAME individuals are more likely to experience poor physical and mental health, higher rates of morbidity and mortality, and lower life expectancy than their White counterparts (Public Health England, 2017). These disparities are linked to wider social determinants such as poverty, discrimination, and exclusion, which affect the social, economic, and environmental conditions that shape health outcomes.

Various policy interventions are needed to help level up the health experiences of BAME communities in the UK. These include addressing wider inequalities in income, education, housing, and employment that affect health outcomes, promoting cultural competence and sensitivity in health services,


improving access to healthcare and preventive services, and engaging BAME communities in health promotion and empowerment initiatives (Public Health England, 2017). Additionally, policies addressing wider social determinants of health, such as poverty reduction, housing quality and affordability, and environmental health, are crucial for promoting health equity and social justice among BAME communities (Bhopal, 2020).


Education


Education is a critical aspect of social mobility and empowerment, yet BAME communities in the UK face significant disparities in educational opportunities, outcomes, and experiences (Runnymede Trust, 2017). For instance, BAME students are more likely to experience lower attainment, exclusion, and limited access to higher education, despite having similar abilities and aspirations as their White counterparts (Runnymede Trust, 2017). These disparities are linked to broader social inequalities such as poverty, discrimination, and cultural bias, which limit the opportunities and choices of BAME individuals and communities.

Various policy interventions are needed to help level up the educational experiences of BAME communities in the UK. These include promoting diversity and inclusion in the curriculum, teaching staff, and governance of educational institutions and tackling discrimination and bias in assessments, exams, and admissions. Improving access to academic and pastoral support and addressing wider social inequalities that affect educational outcomes (Runnymede Trust, 2017). Additionally, initiatives that empower BAME students, families, and communities to participate in the decision-making and governance of educational institutions are crucial for enhancing their engagement and ownership of the educational system (Gillborn & Rollock, 2020).


Integration and Cohesion


Integration and cohesion are crucial aspects of social inclusion and community resilience, yet BAME communities in the UK face significant challenges in these domains (Hussain & Millar, 2021). For instance, BAME individuals are more likely to experience social isolation, discrimination, and prejudice, which affect their sense of belonging and participation in society (Hussain & Millar, 2021). These challenges are linked to wider issues such as identity, culture, religion, and migration, which shape the experiences and aspirations of BAME individuals and communities.


Various policy interventions are needed to help level up the integration and cohesion experiences of BAME communities in the UK. These include promoting diversity and inclusion in public discourse and media representation, tackling hate speech and hate crimes, supporting interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and facilitating access to civic and political participation (Hussain & Millar, 2021). Additionally, initiatives that empower BAME communities to participate in decision-making and governance of local and national institutions, and promote intergenerational and cross-cultural exchange, are crucial for enhancing their sense of agency and belonging in society (Modood, 2020).


Stake in Society


Stake in society refers to the degree to which individuals and communities are empowered to participate in the decision-making and governance of society (Modood, 2020). BAME communities in the UK have faced significant challenges in this domain, with limited opportunities to shape policies and institutions that affect their lives (Modood, 2020). These challenges are linked to wider issues such as representation, voice, and power, which affect the opportunities and choices of BAME individuals and communities.

Various policy interventions are needed to help level up the stake in society experiences of BAME communities in the UK. These include promoting diversity and inclusion in political representation and decision-making, supporting BAME-led civic and political organizations, empowering BAME communities to participate in public consultations and policy-making processes, and addressing wider structural inequalities that limit the agency and voice of BAME individuals and communities (Modood, 2020). Additionally, initiatives that promote intercultural and intergenerational dialogue enhance civic education and awareness and facilitate.


To address the needs of BAME communities in the UK and help level up their experiences in different domains, there are several immediate policy interventions that local and central governments can implement. The best available evidence should inform these policies and involve meaningful engagement and participation of BAME communities in their design, implementation, and evaluation. Some examples of such policies are outlined below:


Housing

  1. Addressing discrimination and bias in the private rental sector: Local and central governments should introduce measures to tackle discrimination and bias against BAME renters, such as mandatory anti-discrimination training for landlords, increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, and improved access to legal redress (CRER, 2020).

  2. Increasing the supply of affordable and secure social housing: Local and central governments should invest in the construction and renovation of social housing units that are affordable, secure, and accessible to BAME communities, particularly those facing multiple disadvantages (Gilroy & Lawrence, 2018).

  3. Improving the quality and standards of private rented accommodation: Local and central governments should introduce minimum standards for private rented accommodation, such as adequate heating, ventilation, and safety measures, and increased enforcement of these standards through regular inspections (CRER, 2020).

Employment

  1. Promoting diversity and inclusion in recruitment and retention practices: Local and central governments should work with employers to promote diversity and inclusion in recruitment and retention practices, such as adopting anonymous recruitment processes, setting targets for diversity, and providing training for managers and staff on an unconscious bias (Gover, 2020).

  2. Tackling discrimination and bias in the workplace: Local and central governments should introduce measures to tackle discrimination and bias against BAME employees, such as mandatory anti-discrimination training for employers, increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, and improved access to legal redress (Gover, 2020).

  3. Improving access to education, training, and apprenticeships: Local and central governments should invest in initiatives that improve access to education, training, and apprenticeships for BAME individuals, particularly those facing multiple disadvantages, such as providing bursaries and scholarships, mentoring schemes, and work-based learning programmes (Gover, 2020).

Health

  1. Addressing wider inequalities in income, education, housing, and employment that affect health outcomes: Local and central governments should introduce policies that address the root causes of health inequalities among BAME communities, such as poverty reduction, improving access to education, promoting affordable and secure housing, and creating more and better job opportunities (Bhopal, 2020).

  2. Promoting cultural competence and sensitivity in health services: Local and central governments should work with healthcare providers to promote cultural competence and sensitivity in healthcare services, such as providing training for healthcare staff on cultural awareness, involving BAME communities in the design and delivery of health services, and providing language support (Public Health England, 2017).

  3. Improving access to healthcare and preventive services: Local and central governments should invest in initiatives that improve access to healthcare and preventive services for BAME communities, particularly those facing multiple disadvantages, such as providing outreach services, improving transport links, and increasing the availability of culturally appropriate services (Public Health England, 2017).

Education

  1. Promoting diversity and inclusion in the curriculum, teaching staff, and governance of educational institutions: Local and central governments should work with educational institutions to promote diversity and inclusion in the curriculum, teaching staff, and governance of educational institutions, such as adopting a decolonized curriculum, recruiting more BAME teachers and senior leaders, and involving BAME communities in decision-making processes (Gillborn & Rollock, 2020).

  2. Tackling discrimination and bias in assessments, exams, and admissions: Local and central governments should introduce measures to tackle discrimination and bias


The UK government has implemented several positive measures to help facilitate BAME communities in various domains, such as housing, employment, health, education, integration, cohesion, and societal stake. These measures aim to promote equity, inclusion, and social justice for BAME individuals and communities and have shown pragmatic results in improving their experiences and outcomes. Some examples of such measures are outlined below:

The Race Equality Strategy: In 2021, the UK government launched the Race Equality Strategy, which aims to tackle systemic racism and promote racial equality across different domains, such as education, employment, health, and criminal justice. The strategy includes a range of measures, such as improving diversity and inclusion in public appointments, promoting ethnic diversity in the workplace, enhancing access to mental health services for BAME communities, and tackling hate crimes (UK Government, 2021). This strategy builds on previous government initiatives, such as the Race Disparity Audit, which aimed to identify and address disparities in different domains between ethnic groups.


The Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting: In 2018, the UK government introduced the Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting, which requires employers with more than 250 employees to publish data on the pay gap between ethnic groups. This measure aims to increase transparency and accountability in pay practices and identify and address disparities between ethnic groups. The first round of reporting in 2021 showed significant disparities in pay between ethnic groups, particularly for Black African and Caribbean workers (UK Government, 2021).

The Windrush Compensation Scheme: In 2018, the UK government established the Windrush Compensation Scheme to compensate individuals who were wrongly detained or deported due to the Windrush scandal. The scandal involved the wrongful treatment of thousands of individuals, mainly from the Caribbean, who were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants despite having lived and worked in the UK for decades. The compensation scheme aims to redress and acknowledge the harm caused to these individuals and their families (UK Government, 2021).

The Integration Innovation Fund: In 2019, the UK government launched the Integration Innovation Fund, which aims to support innovative approaches to promoting integration and social cohesion among different communities, particularly in areas with high levels of segregation and tension. The fund supports a range of initiatives, such as community-led projects, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, language learning, and mentoring programmes (UK Government, 2021). The fund builds on previous government initiatives, such as the Controlling Migration Fund and the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme, which aimed to promote integration and social cohesion among communities.

The Access and Participation Plan: In 2019, the UK government introduced the Access and Participation Plan, which aims to improve access and participation of underrepresented groups, including BAME individuals, in higher education. The plan requires universities to set targets and plans to increase access and participation of underrepresented groups, such as BAME students, and to report on their progress (UK Government, 2021). The plan builds on previous government initiatives, such as the Widening Participation programme, which aimed to increase the participation of disadvantaged groups in higher education.

Overall, these positive measures and initiatives demonstrate the UK government's commitment to promoting equity, inclusion, and social justice for BAME communities and have shown pragmatic results in improving their experiences and outcomes. However, much work must be done to address the root causes of disparities and ensure that BAME individuals and communities have equal opportunities and choices in all domains of life.

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