Taskforce publishes regional plan to tackle racial inequalities
Published: Friday 10 Mar 2023
A plan to level up opportunities for residents regardless of their race, ethnicity, and heritage as the region becomes more ethnically diverse will be presented to the West Midlands Combined Authority Board next Friday (17 March).
The five-year strategy is the West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce’s first major piece of work since it was launched by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and the WMCA Board, to look at the specific issues facing under-represented communities to ensure that everyone benefits from the success of the region.
The strategy will focus on helping people in racialised communities to access and benefit from better jobs, transport and housing, and tackle disparities in education, health, and criminal justice.
It will also aim to influence diversity among the leadership of organisations across the region to bring about lasting change.
The Mayor, who is also WMCA chair, said: “There is sadly clear evidence to show race disparities make it more difficult for people right across our region to reach their full potential. That’s why addressing these inequalities is essential if we’re going to ensure equality of opportunity and truly level up.”
“I congratulate the Race Equalities Taskforce on the publication of their strategy. This marks just the beginning of the task at hand as now we must work together to understand the specific issues facing different underrepresented communities and bring about tangible outcomes that will enable everyone to reach their full potential.”
The taskforce is made up of 30 senior leaders from different sectors, places, and communities. It is led by independent chair Yetunde Dania, a practicing lawyer, partner, and Head of the Birmingham Office at international law firm Trowers & Hamlins LLP, and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion.
Yetunde Dania said: “Race, ethnicity and heritage should not prevent people from fulfilling their potential. However, this is the stark reality for many and that is why the taskforce exists. Our ambition is to make the West Midlands a national leader in addressing race inequality and we know that we cannot do this alone.
“This strategy is our call to action for every leader, business, public body, voluntary organisation and community. We want to hear about how you are already making positive changes and working together to find new ways to address persistent issues to eradicate racial inequalities. And, although tackling systemic racism will be a regional effort, everyone, whether they are in a position of power or not, has a responsibility to take action to drive lasting change for the better."
Recently published data in the UK 2021 Census shows of the 2.9 million people who live in the West Midlands metropolitan area, around 1.3 million (45 per cent) did not identify as being from a White British background. This is a significant increase from the 34 per cent recorded in the Census a decade before.
The WMCA has already identified the need to improve health outcomes of minority ethnic communities after its Health of the Region report found there were entrenched health inequalities that had been exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Race Equalities Taskforce strategy widens the scope of that work by setting out the changes it wants to see in other areas where the WMCA and its partners have most responsibility and impact. They are:
- Jobs, Living Standards
- Skills and Education
- Health and Wellbeing
- Housing and Homelessness
- Criminal Justice (led by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner)
These areas have been identified based on personal insights and lived experiences of residents who attended the taskforce’s community ‘listening’ event last year, and from data in an independent baseline report it commissioned into race inequalities in the region.
Action groups will drive forward the work across each area. The taskforce will also be guided by a Members’ Advisory Group, to help build on the work already being delivered by local authorities, communities, and businesses.
Cllr Kerrie Carmichael, WMCA portfolio lead for inclusive communities and leader of Sandwell Council, said: “I am incredibly proud of our diverse communities in Sandwell and across the West Midlands. Every day people do amazing things to improve the lives of their neighbours and local places. Too often, however, these achievements are in spite of inequality.
“Our role as political leaders is to represent our communities. This has to mean taking a stand against the inequalities and injustice that make life more difficult for many, including those who experience race disparities. That is why I welcome this report from the taskforce and will continue to champion their work across our region.”
Simon Foster, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I welcome the West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce Independent Strategy as an important step towards ending race inequality and advancing equality of opportunity throughout the West Midlands.
“The work I am leading on with partners across the criminal justice sector, seeks to ensure that the principles of anti-racism and equality are embedded into our criminal justice system.
“I am committed to continuing to work with the Race Equalities Taskforce on the changes we want to make; the action we want to see; and the partnerships we need to build, to ensure that race, ethnicity and heritage should never be obstacles to having a fair start in life or the opportunity to reach your full potential and flourish.”
Find out more about the West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce.
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