Why, asks a new report, was the Commission for Racial Equality’s policy shift on multiculturalism not subjected to a full race equality impact assessment?
A national charity, the Public Interest Research Unit (PIRU), has published a 279-page report entitled Race Back from Equality questioning why the CRE (whose functions will be taken over next week by the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights) has carried out fewer race equality impact assessments than other government departments. According to Rupert Harwood of 140 policies which appeared to require such assessments (under the Race Relations [Amendment] Act which came into force on 1 April 2001), only five have been conducted.
The report singles out the CRE’s move away from its traditional support of multiculturalism – as signalled in CRE Chair Trevor Phillips’ declaration that it ‘no longer provides the right answer to the complex nature of today’s race relation issues’ – as a major policy decision. Why, it asks, did such a major policy decision not require a race equality impact assessment? According to PIRU, interviews with community groups and legal advice providers have indicated that the CRE’s attacks on multiculturalism might have led ‘to some increase in the expression of prejudice’ and ‘left a substantial number of individuals from ethnic minorities feeling more isolated’. The report’s author accuses the CRE of having abandoned some of its founding principles in the past few years, as it has moved closer to the government. As the CRE morphs into the CEHR, PIRU warns the new body against becoming ‘part of the problem as well as the solution’.