Race Disparity Audit Contents

1Introduction

The Race Disparity Audit

1.The Race Disparity Audit is a review conducted by the Government to identify and collate existing data on outcomes by race and ethnicity across the public sector. It was a flagship policy launched by the Prime Minister in August 2016, following on from the themes of her speech on the steps of 10 Downing Street on becoming Prime Minister. At the launch, she said that she would “stand up […] against injustice and inequality” and laid out her plans, saying:

Today, I am launching an audit to look into racial disparities in our public services that stretches right across government. It will highlight the differences in outcomes for people of different backgrounds, in every area from health to education, childcare to welfare, employment, skills and criminal justice.

This audit will reveal difficult truths, but we should not be apologetic about shining a light on injustices as never before. It is only by doing so [that] we can make this country work for everyone, not just a privileged few.1

The press release issued by the Cabinet Office at the same time specified that “findings from this Audit will influence government policy to solve these problems”.2 As the Audit progressed, it became clear that the Government’s plan was both to publish a website showcasing the data sets it had identified and to use that data to begin to address any disparities that were found within it.

2.The Audit has been conducted by a specialist unit, the Race Disparity Unit, working from within the Cabinet Office to locate all the data sets that the Government holds in relation to ethnicity and to identify any gaps or inconsistencies in that data. The results were presented on a dedicated website, Ethnicity Facts and Figures, published in October 2017.3 It included over 130 data sets from sources across Government and the Office for National Statistics covering the six ‘domains’ of:

3.Each domain contains numerous data sets for a variety of outcomes, including, for example, employment rates, educational attainment for a variety of age groups, GP satisfaction rates and internet use. Among the findings drawn from the data by the Government were that:

4.The Government, on launching the website, committed to a programme of ‘explain or change’ in relation to the disparities revealed by the Audit. When the website was launched, Rt Hon Damian Green MP, then Minister for the Cabinet Office, told the House:

When significant disparities between ethnic groups cannot be explained by wider factors, we will commit ourselves to working with partners to change them.4

The Government told us in January 2018 that it was “getting the Whitehall machinery into action”,5 having used the Audit as a “starting point”.6 It has stated that action is already being taken to reduce disparities in the fields of justice, education and employment, and that it is taking steps in individual departments to identify priorities.7 We explore this work in further detail in Chapter 4.

Our inquiry

5.As the Prime Minister has stated, some of the findings of the Audit are “uncomfortable”8 and some have been known for some time.9 We wanted to look at how effective the Audit and the data behind it will be as tools to move society further along the road to equality. We focused on three main aspects of the Audit: the usefulness and robustness of the data included in it, how the Government should co-ordinate its response to the findings and what the future policy priorities should be.

6.We launched our inquiry in November 2017. We received 27 written submissions from third-sector organisations, academics and think tanks, and held three oral evidence sessions with policy analysts, race equality experts, lawyers, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Office for National Statistics, before hearing from the Director of the Race Disparity Unit and the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Rt Hon David Lidington MP. We are grateful to all those who contributed their expertise to the inquiry.

7.Those who submitted evidence generally welcomed the Audit as a promising initiative that was well-coordinated and transparent.10 Some witnesses were concerned about the comprehensiveness of the data, an issue discussed in Chapter 3 of this report.11 Most argued that the Audit should be the start of a coordinated, robust response from Government to begin to close disparities.12 A range of views on how the Government should respond is discussed in Chapter 4. The Race Disparity Unit in the Cabinet Office was commended for its broad programme of consultation with stakeholders, and the relationship between Government and civil society is discussed in Chapter 5.13


3 Cabinet Office, ‘Ethnicity Facts and Figures’, accessed 20 April 2018

4 HC Deb, 10 October 2017, col 182 [Commons Chamber]

5 Q120

6 Q118

7 Q122

8 Cabinet Office, ‘PM words at Race Disparity Audit launch: 10 October 2017’, accessed 12 March 2018

9 Clinks and The Young Review (joint submission) (RDA0003), para 9; Black South West Network (RDA0024), para 10; Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham (RDA0021), para 19.

10 See for example, The Coalition of Race Equality (RDA0014)

11 Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham (RDA0021); Roma Support Group (RDA0007)

12 See for example: Equality and Human Rights Commission (RDA0011); National Black Police Association (RDA0004);

13 See for example: The Coalition of Race Equality (RDA0014)




Published: 11 June 2018