Councils ‘failing’ black staff

The race relations record of local authorities has come in for
criticism from the chairperson of the Local Government

Only about half know how many staff with ethnic minority
backgrounds they employ and most have failed to review their
policies to examine levels of potential or actual racial
discrimination and harassment, according to an LGA survey of local
authority responses to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, published last

With the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 introducing a
positive duty to promote racial equality from April, the survey
reveals the extent to which local authorities have implemented the
recommendations of the Macpherson report.

Despite government attempts to address institutional racism in
the public sector, including the Best Value indicators on racial
equality for 2000-1 and the Commission for Racial Equality’s
Standard for Local Government, the LGA survey makes for
worrying reading.

Only 18 per cent of councils have undertaken a corporate and
departmental review of their policies, although a further 64 per
cent are planning to do so. Only 27 per cent make provision for
black, Asian and ethnic minority staff or workers’ support groups
to contribute to corporate and departmental policy development,
while less than half have an action plan to ensure the provision of
appropriate and professional services to black, Asian and ethnic
minority groups.

In addition, the report shows that local authorities have paid
little heed to the guidance issued in the wake of the Macpherson
report by the LGA, Employers’ Organisation for Local Government and
the Improvement & Development Agency. Councils are urged by the
LGA to “revisit” the guidance.

“Too many councils have failed to review their own policies and
practices in terms of service delivery, employment, or championing
racial equality,” said LGA chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham.

In a letter to all local authorities, Beecham and LGA chief
executive Brian Briscoe urged chief executives to use the report as
“an opportunity to take stock of the steps they have taken and to
decide what they need to do next in taking this agenda forward. If
we are to secure wide recognition and endorsement of councils’
community leadership role it is essential that local authorities
are seen to reflect the needs of all members of the communities
they serve,” says the letter. “The challenges posed by the Lawrence
report are demanding ones, but it is crucial that every council is
seen to be responding positively to them.”

Paved with Good Intentions? A Survey of Local Authority
Responses to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry
. Tel: 020 7664 3000,

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