Tower Hamlets, Bradford and Breckland: how ethnic inequality is changing

Runnymede report finds that ethnic inequalities are widespread throughout England and Wales.

Runnymede report finds that ethnic inequalities are widespread throughout England and Wales

New research published yesterday by the Runnymede Trust shines a disturbing light on the way that racism now manifests itself in the UK.

Comparing local ethnic inequalities in 2001 and 2011, the report found that ethnic inequalities are ‘widespread’ in England and Wales, and that the problem is persistent.

This is based on indicators in health, education, unemployment and housing.

The inequality that the report finds is of a much more subtle nature than that which many people would commonly regard as racism. 

The Runnymede report found that inequalities existed not only in diverse and deprived areas like Tower Hamlets, but also in more affluent rural areas like Breckland in Norfolk.

Tower Hamlets, a borough in east London, ranks as the seventh most deprived district in England against the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

It is also an area with a very high level of ethnic diversity; in 2011, around 69 per cent of its population group other than White British. This makes it the fifth most ethnically diverse area in England and Wales.

There is a lot of variation between the experiences of different non-White British ethnic groups. So while Tower Hamlets ranked as the worst district in England and Wales in 2011 for Asian inequality, inequalities for most other ethnic groups had improved between 2001 and 2011.

The study found that:

“The most severe ethnic inequalities in Tower Hamlets were in terms of housing with nearly half (48 per cent) of Asian households and 43 per cent of households from ethnic minority groups as a whole being overcrowded compared with a quarter (24 per cent) of White British households.”

Some districts showed improvement. The Yorkshire town of Bradford – which has more Pakistani residents than anywhere else in England and Wales and where 27 per cent of the total population in 2011 was Asian – was the fifth most unequal district for minority populations in 2001.

In 2011 it ranked 22nd; still, in 2011 ethnic minorities in Bradford were three times more likely to be living in overcrowded housing than the White British population.

In rural Breckland, the minority population increased by four per cent between 2001 and 2011, with a high level of immigration from EU countries.

During this decade, ethnic inequalities between the White British group and ethnic minorities widened on all indicators. For example, in 2011, 23 per cent of 16-24 year olds from ethnic minorities and 26 per cent of those from the White Other group had no qualifications, compared to just 13 per cent of the White British group.

As well as poor education and overcrowded housing, the inequality identified by Runnymede can manifest itself as high levels of unemployment or part time work.

It can also show as high levels of economic activity due to increased prevalence of limiting long term illnesses. The relationship between health problems and social deprivation is, as the study says, well documented.

Runnymede’s report highlights the way that racial discrimination is becoming more subtle and harder to recognise. These are ‘invisible’ problems, as it were: they don’t involve verbal or physical abuse or enforced segregation.

British Future’s recent report on attitudes towards immigration says that there is ‘a broad consensus that Britain is a significantly less racist society today, a view also held by most ethnic minority Britons’.

Yet the same report points out that ‘one in ten of our fellow citizens expresses support for biological racism and different levels of intelligence between the races’.

This leads to the unsettling conclusion that in many cases, neither the victims nor the perpetrators of institutionalised discrimination are aware of what is taking place.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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11 Responses to “Tower Hamlets, Bradford and Breckland: how ethnic inequality is changing”

  1. Sparky

    With only 31% of the borough being ‘white British’ that now means that group is an ethnic minority.

    What are you doing, therefore to support that minority group? Nothing, as usual. Labour, as always, cares nothing for white working class people. It sticks to its safe, sanctimonious, middle class academic comfort zone of racism. People like Ruby Stockham can probably write these articles in their sleep.

    I have a suggestion, Ruby. Write an article entitled “Five Practical Ways Labour Intends to Help White Working Class People”.

  2. peter nardelli

    It would seem the ethnic majority needs educating regarding birth control, clearly they cannot afford the amount of children they are producing.

  3. TheEditor

    ” in many cases, neither the victims nor the perpetrators of institutionalised discrimination are aware of what is taking place in many cases, neither the victims nor the perpetrators of institutionalised discrimination are aware of what is taking place.

    You could be talking there about what Tower Hamlets Council does.

  4. damon

    The problem discussing subjects like this is there are different ideas about what constitutes racism etc. Tower Hamlets is mentioned, and the way it’s written you’d think that the council were responsible for Asian people being twice as likely to live in overcrowded conditions.
    What I see when I’m in Whitechapel is a first port of call for immigrant communities and somewhat of an ethnic minority ghetto. Is it the council’s fault if people crowd into flats that are too small for the number of people living in them? The same thing happened in New York a hundred and fifty years ago when immigrants piled off the ships and into slum conditions.
    Just to call it racism all the time leads to the divided society where you have the likes of Ukip on one side, and the Guardian’s Zoe Williams on the other. It just becomes a finger pointing and point scoring contest.

    In Tower Hamlets there is a very big cultural divide between the people who voted very enthusiastically for the mayor – and the population whose roots go back there several generations. You can’t just go accusing everyone of racism.
    Because that is not fair. We see just how contentious race issues are, even amongst Americans who have roots in the US going back several generations. The ”all white cops are racists” view etc. So why should it be any easier in a fluid and changing society like Tower Hamlets, where the population changes so much year after year? And many of the incomers share a very different culture to the wider society. That’s always going to be really hard.
    But what I’ve seen from anti-racist activists in the past several years, is that the ”hard line” is a tactic that they can’t go back on. To stay on the front foot, accusations of racism have to be forcefully made – to make people who would disagree, back down.

  5. Mike Stallard

    “Tower Hamlets, a borough in east London, ranks as the seventh most deprived district in England against the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).”
    Did you see the election of Mayor Rahman on u Tube? Disgusting. And the corruption there which has been reported is staggering. If you allow people to behave like this in the election hall during a recount (itself questionable), then you can kiss any form of stability (the life blood of trade and production) goodbye. And, of course, the people who surged into the hall and obstructed the count have got clean away with it.
    Do I not remember something about a lot of postal votes all bearing the same signature in Bradford?
    This is wrong and it is not the British way.

    Allow me to remind you that the Prophet (pbuh) was himself married to eight wives at the time of his death, although, of course, he, and his faithful followers were specially blessed with several wives (Koran 33.37/66.1) and slave girls were also welcomed (23.5). Muslim (for that is what we are talking about here) families are not the same as Christian ones. Why should they be? And because they are not the same, they do not have the same values of material possessions and the division of labour within the extended family. Why should they? Call it poverty if you will.

  6. Mike Stallard

    But children are a gift of God, and a measure of wealth, and therefore many children are better than a few (Koran 18.40, 23.54, 71.9)

  7. Mike Stallard

    “the people who voted very enthusiastically for the mayor ”
    A magnificent example of cynical understatement! It was an outrage.

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Poverty means more kids. If you want less kids, improve the economy.

  9. Guest

    Projection, what would you do without it.

    No surprise you don’t care about these people because they’re not White British.

  10. peter nardelli

    My daughter is one of the children living in poverty in Tower Hamlets, However when I complained to the Council regarding certain issues to the mothers benefit claim, I was harassed by the Police and arrested off a flight into Heathrow by a false arrest warrant signed by a D.I. Steve Wilcox from Bethnal Green Police station who coincidentally was also on the Tower Hamlets Anti Fraud Forum……

  11. LolaHeavey

    The comments are more insightful and genuine that the article. But most of us are used to it.

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