The Race Disparity Audit is a world-leading programme to identify, collate and present existing data on outcomes by race and ethnicity across public services. Our inquiry focused on the first phase of the Audit, exploring the process by which it was compiled, the resulting website and how the Government intends to proceed based on the results.
The Prime Minister’s stated objective for the Audit is that it be “an essential resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustice”. We welcome the Audit as a ground-breaking initiative that allows ordinary people to access a range of data about ethnicity for the first time and as a marker of intent to reduce disparities. It required a significant amount of time and engagement with stakeholders and brought together data from across the Government machine through data sets that varied hugely in character. We heard praise for the website that houses the data and for the process by which it was produced.
In the process of compiling the data sets, the Race Disparity Unit discovered a lack of consistency in how data is collected across Government. It is clear that public services are not currently collecting ethnicity data in a streamlined fashion and that some agencies are not collecting data at all. For these reasons, it is often difficult to make comparisons over time and between data sets, and a lack of detail in some areas can make disaggregation and effective analysis challenging. The ability to disaggregate is essential for understanding the roles that geography, age, gender, social class and poverty play in creating poorer outcomes for some people than for others.
Clear and measurable plans are needed for improving the consistency and robustness of the data and turning it into a set of cross-government priorities for action to reduce the disparities shown by the Audit. Action has already begun in some areas, and we look forward to seeing the results of the ‘explain or change’ analysis that is being conducted by individual departments. Civil society has a vital part to play in addressing deficits in and interpreting the data.
The Cabinet Office has been exemplary in its approach to the Audit so far. It should continue to work with departments and the rest of the public sector to deliver change, according to priorities set by the Government. By doing this, the clear commitment to tackling injustice made by the Prime Minister when she launched the Audit can be realised
Published: 11 June 2018