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What they don’t tell you: this decade’s increase in ethnic minorities equality

Nobody seems to talk about it but the last decade has seen considerable improvements in the lives of Britain’s ethnic minorities.

Despite some clear policy failures, such as Windrush, the Conservative government should be very proud of its levelling up agenda and the change in opportunity that all our communities are experiencing.

The Black Liver Matters (BLM) protests gave the media a perfect opportunity to focus on those improvements and understand why they happened but instead, they wholly ignored that debate and focused on how the protests unfurled.

This missed opportunity is a failure of debate but it’s also an opportunity the Conservatives wasted, therefore until this debate changes, perhaps overshadowed by a second wave of Covid-19, I wanted to lay bare some of the changes we’ve seen in the last decade.

More innovative, more profitable ... greater diversity isn't just a moral imperative. Image credit: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi


In 2004, 73% of 16-64 year olds were in employment. In 2018, that number had risen to 75%. When going by ethnicity, ‘Other than white’ statistics showed an increase of 58% to 65% over the same period and for ‘White’ a rise from 74% to 77%. What’s most striking though is the rise since 2010-2018, which saw employment of ‘Other than white’ rise by 6%.

When breaking down the statistics into specific ethnicities, all employment, apart from ‘Asian other’ has seen an increase since 2004. Since 2010, all have risen. The greatest rise was seen in the UK’s most deprived communities, ‘Pakistani/Bangladesh’, which saw employment rise by 11% since 2010, from 46% to 57%.

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‘Black’ ethnicity employment has risen from 60% to 67% since 2010, ‘Indian’ from 70% to 76%, ‘Mixed’ from 61% to 66% and Asian from 59% to 66%. In the 2004-2010 period, no community saw such as great rises, the maximum being 3% for ‘White other’, with ‘White British’ and ‘White other’ actually seeing decreases.

When comparing 16-24 year olds, there was general stagnation between 2004 and 2007 but a considerable drop off during the 2007 recession, which never picked back up until 2010 and in some cases, 2012. This makes sense, as many technical qualifications which give access to associated employment, typically take a minimum of a year to complete.


The improvement in employment fortune may have been achieved by the improvement in educational attainment.

Between 2006 and 2010, there were small increases in 18 year olds from all ethnicities getting a place in higher education, apart from ‘Chinese’ who saw a decrease. Between 2010 and 2018, the increases were considerate. ‘Chinese’ students rose by 14%, ‘Asian’ by 12%, ‘Black’ by 13%, ‘White’ by 5%, ‘Mixed’ by 8% and ‘Other’ by 12%.

Since 2010, the percentage of pupils going into sustained education, employment or apprenticeships after key stage 4 (GCSE’s) has risen considerably for all. Starting 2010 at 89%, in 2016/2017, the percentage is now 94%. No ethnicity has seen less than 90% and the worst performer, ‘Mixed’ has dipped to 92%.

Having an education is absolutely vital in ensuring greater career opportunity and even when we look at underappreciated apprenticeships, every ethnicity apart from ‘White’ has seen an increase in starts. Though there’s nothing to write home about for the Conservatives, this rise was tiny. Managing a general trend upward, on a career scheme which you’ve made central to your policy agenda should be the minimum expectations.

Employment and education are key components if we’re to ensure all ethnicities can improve their prospects but social justice and housing are also imperative.

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In housing, we’ve been wholly let down for decades, with no party doing enough to secure real change. The balance between providing homes and ensuring that homeowners don’t go into negative equity has plagued the Conservative party and despite the statistics looking positive from the position of ethnicity, there is a lot more at play.

Between 2001 and 2016, all ethnicities saw home ownership fall considerably.

All ethnicities apart from ‘White’ saw homeownership drop between 2006 and 2011. With ‘Mixed, ‘Black or Black British’ and ‘Other’ experiencing decreases of 10%, 9% and 7% respectively.

Between 2011 and 2016, only ‘Mixed’ and ‘Asian or British Asian’ saw increases, with ‘Other’, ‘White’ and ‘Black or Black British’ seeing small decreases of 1%, 1% and 2% respectively.

The difference in drop between the two periods could have been because of opportunity but also because the drop was so great between 2001 and 2011, that it inevitably had to stagnate.

There is also another reason and that’s location.

Based on 2011 census results, almost 60% of those identifying as ‘Black’ live in London, the most unaffordable region in the UK. Whereas when we look at ‘Asian’, 35.9% live in London, with the rest spread in greater number across the UK and doubling the percentage of ‘Black’ in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and The Humber. Similar trends are found with ‘Mixed’ ethnicities.

The average house price in London is £671,989 and in the North West, the next more expensive region listed in the comparison, average house prices are £163,602. White ethnicities see the widest spread, with the highest percentage, 16.2%, living in the South East.

When turning to social housing, since 2011 every ethnicity apart from ‘White’ and ‘Mixed’ experienced an increase in access. The greatest increase in access for ethnic minorities came between 2001 and 2011, where ‘Mixed’ communities doubled their total from 29,000 to 59,000. ‘Black or Black British, increased from 216,000 to 325,000 and ‘Other’ from 24,000 to 84,000. Since 2011, these communities have seen increases in the 10,000’s, with ‘Mixed’ actually reducing.

Asian and Asian British ethnicities saw a more or less equal increase between the two periods, increasing from 123,000 to 181,000.

‘White’ ethnicities did very poorly in accessing social housing and by 2011, were renting 497,000 fewer homes and 101,000 fewer still by 2016.

Instead, ‘White’ communities saw their proportion of private renters sky rocket, from 1,809,000 in 2001 to 3,503,000 in 2011. By 2016, this number had reached 3,805,000.

Every other ethnicity also saw similar outcomes, with ‘Mixed’ and ‘Black and Black British’ communities trebling their proportion of private renters, and ‘Asian and Asian British’ and ‘Other’ quadrupling theirs.

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The statistics, taken from ‘Home ownership and renting: demographics’ clearly show great support for ethnic minorities but overall, highlights that the housing market remains incredibly dysfunctional. These statistics do not go into the detail but many studies reveal that in London, where most ethnic minorities reside, cramped accommodation, unaffordable rents and poor quality housing is a major problem. Much of this is due to policies in the 2000’s, which saw houses converted into flats and the recent permitted development, which allowed empty buildings to be turned into flats, without needing full planning permission.

Finally, I wanted to end on social justice.

Arrests and convictions

There is no doubt that profiling and poor policing exists, however the vast majority of officers do a fantastic job and are hamstrung by their desire to police by consent and protect themselves. In the last decade, after a fall in police attacks, violence against officers is on the rise, with more than 30,000 attacks on officers in 2018/19.

Despite the negative press around policing, arrests across the board have fallen by 48%. Since 2006, there has been a 51% drop in ‘White’ arrests, 33% in ‘Black’, 26% in ‘Asian’, 39% in ‘Mixed’ and 38% drop in Chinese/Other. The biggest drops began in 2010/11. Many people will cite the drop in police numbers as the main reason and this will certainly play a part but when we look at prosecutions and convictions, they have increase in percentage for all ethnicities which indicates that the legitimacy of arrest has improved by up to 8%.

This is a welcomed sign, particularly for the ‘Black’ community, which in all regions, is proportionately arrested more than any other ethnicity.

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In 2017, convictions for almost all ethnicity juveniles (under 18) decreased slightly, which could be a sign of the response to knife crime arrests, or an example of failure. The UK secure population (children in custody, in a secure estate) has decreased considerably since 2000/01, with the sharpest drops coming after 2010. Although the sharpest drops have been for 'White' ethnicities, the 'Black' population has halved since 2006/07. Criminal records are a major barrier for many people to get on in life and so any appropriate decrease is welcomed. There has also been a considerable decrease in arrests of children for notifiable offences. A similar trend can be seen with youth cautions, which have dropped considerably since 2010 for all ethnicities, especially 'Black'. What must be welcomed is the decrease in barriers as a consequence of criminal records. A number of different judicial system approaches have been adopted, for example, diversion programmes such as for mental health, set up in 2014.


Finally, ending on immigration the statistics are very clear. The number of people entering detention is at its lowest rate for years. Although there was a slight increase in 2015, in 2018, we put 3,558 fewer people in detention than in 2009.

The starkest change was in child detention, where in 2018, 63 children were put into detention, compared with 1,119 in 2019. We have even seen a drop in refusals at port and enforced removals, where for the African Sub-Saharan region and since 2009, we saw 1,772 fewer people refused entry and 3,086 fewer enforced removals. Between 2010 and 2018, the number of people in detention and returned from the UK, has also dropped from 16,577 to 11,152. This has also coincided with a considerable drop in time spent in detention, with 9% fewer people spending more than 28 days in detention and 27% more people released on bail, rather than being deported.

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This list is not exhaustive, but it clearly identifies many successes of the last decade. Mistakes have been made and lessons in how to deal with mistakes must be learnt but in housing, education, employment, immigration and justice, governments has ensured that every ethnicity has seen marked improvements over the previous decade.

We must now understand how we can further reduce injustice and increase equality, to level up the nation and tackle issues facing specific communities, such as the ‘Black’ community in London.

Source: Thread Reader, Rico Woj via Twitter


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