Ethnic minorities at "greater risk of overcrowded poverty", says Scottish EHR Commission

Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland urges more targeted action on ethnic disparities 

People born into an ethnic minority household in Scotland are twice as likely to face poverty and unemployment and four times more likely to face conditions of overcrowding, a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found.

The report also found a growing awarness among children of prejudice along racial lines, with a quarter of school children surveyed saying they knew of racial or sectarian incidents or bullying.

The report, Race report: Healing a divided Britain, is, according to the commission, the "biggest ever analysis of existing evidence into race equality in Scotland" and focuses on poverty, education, employment, and housing.

"But if their policies aren’t sufficiently nuanced then the effect can be the same. Inequality damages everyone and weakens the fabric of our society." Alastair Pringle

Alastair Pringle, director the EHRC in Scotland, said: "This report shows Scotland has unique challenges to address on race equality. Whilst we do not share the issues of racial disproportionality of stop and search or high ethnic minority prison populations that our report highlights elsewhere in Britain, ethnic minorities in Scotland still face real challenges in terms of poor housing, unemployment and poverty.    

"The Scottish Government is taking action on these issues, but their policies are often targeted at areas of socio-economic deprivation. 

"Our evidence shows that while people from ethnic minorities experience higher levels of poverty and unemployment they don’t necessarily live in the most deprived areas of Scotland. 

"Our policies need to have a sharper focus, not just concentrated on postcode, but also focussed on communities who experience disadvantage because of who they are, where they’re from, or the colour of their skin.  

"Local and national government are not setting out with the intention to discriminate – but if their policies aren’t sufficiently nuanced then the effect can be the same. Inequality damages everyone and weakens the fabric of our society. 

"We need to get better at dealing with the different causes of poverty and unemployment, educational outcomes and the housing conditions."

"We need to get better at dealing with the different causes of poverty and unemployment, educational outcomes and the housing conditions." Alastair Pringle

On the issue of housing, figures from EHRC Scotland show that from 2013, ethnic minority households were four times more likely than white households to live in overcrowded properties at 11.8 per cent compared with 2.9 per cent.

In 2013-14, people from ethnic minorities were twice as likely to live in poverty, both before and after housing costs, compared to the individuals in the category termed as 'white-British'.

After housing costs, 36 per cent of people from ethnic minorities were in poverty, compared with 17 per cent of  'white-British' people.

Unemployment rates for people from ethnic minorities in 2013 were significantly higher than for white people at 13.2 per cent compared with 6.9 per cent. In 2013, unemployment rates for people from ethnic minorities in were significantly higher than for white people at 13.2 per cent compared with 6.9 per cent.

When looking at modern apprenticeships, according to Skills Development Scotland, this year only 2.1 per cent of places were filled by ethnic minorities, although five per cent is the target figure for ethnic minority groups in apprenticeships across Scotland. 

"In 2013/14 Police Scotland recorded 4,807 racial incidents." EHRC Scotland

In an additional survey attached to the report, one in four Scottish pupils said they were aware of peers suffering prejudice-based bullying.

In response to this part, the Commission welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent publication of its race equality framework 2016-30, and praised "a wide reaching engagement" the government had taken to develop the strategy.

The Commission is also calling for action on recording and reporting of racist incidents and bullying in schools to form part of the solution to tackle race inequality. 

Last month, the Commission, alongside other groups like the Runnymede Trust, raised both issues at the UN in Geneva, covered by CommonSpace

In 2013/14 Police Scotland recorded 4,807 racial incidents and, with regards to schools, the only data available was obtained by Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The school figures showed that schools recorded less incidents over five years than Police Scotland recorded in one.

Pringle said: "We know that half of all racial incidents reported to the Police are committed by people under 20, and half of those are by people under the age of 16. Racist bullying damages children’s life chances, and affects their attendance and attainment. 

"Knowing where and when incidents are happening in our schools will help everyone in the community to focus their efforts on reducing racism wherever it occurs.

"It’s in everyone interest to make identity based bullying a thing of the past."

Picture courtesy of EHRC Scotland

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