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Posts Tagged ‘BME’

Equality in social care practice: still a long way to go

After improvements in local government training and recruitment, why aren’t there more BME social workers?

[Source: Roger Kline - The Guardian]

Like many readers, my heart leapt when I saw that Stephen Lawrence’s killers had been found guilty. The family’s campaign for justice, and the McPherson Inquiry they prompted, have changed forever how we treat racism. 

We should welcome that progress. But a serious look at social work suggests we still have a long way to go before we have a level playing field for black and minority social workers – let alone service users. 

Equality is at the heart of social work practice; it is embedded in the GSCC Code of Practice, and in the training of social workers, as well as in the primary legislation that guides social work, including the Children Act 1989, Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998. 

It is widely accepted that good practice is more likely if the workforce itself is reflective of the service users or wider population, and is treated in employment in ways that demonstrate a commitment to equality. 

Selection and training of social workers 

The disadvantage faced by BME pupils prior to reaching HE is well recorded. Ethnic minority students experience less favourable outcomes in respect of offers, attrition and progression rates (including drop out and deferrals).

Just one British black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year. As David Lammy writes: “That is not a misprint: one student. Merton College, Oxford, has not admitted a single black student for five years. At Robinson College, Cambridge, a white applicant is four times more likely to be successful than a black applicant.” 

The Ethnicity, Gender and Degree Attainment Project concluded that race was a significant contributor to degree attainment, a finding confirmed by King’s College London’s report Variations in Progression of Social Work Students in England.

The employment and treatment of social workers

The NHS has long recognised the significance of race in employment, with comprehensive data suggesting there is systematic discrimination in shortlisting, appointment, promotion, treatment and (inevitably, therefore) occupational and grading stratification. 

There is no similar data for social workers, even though local authorities have been required, as part of their statutory equality duty, to monitor some aspects of equality within employment. 

One source of data is the Local Government Earnings Survey 2010/11, which found that 8.2% of the local government workforce in England and Wales were from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, but only 2% of top earners. While some councils are working hard to improve matters, the majority are not. Anecdotally, the number of senior social work managers from BME backgrounds is relatively small. 

As a trade union official, I request figures from time to time from the equality monitoring data for individual councils. The limited local data I have had access to shows three trends. 

Firstly, there is an “ethnic employment pyramid that concentrates BME staff in lower grades. In the NHS, BME staff are screened out at the shortlisting and interview stages of recruitment and the limited data I have suggests a similar pattern in social work. 

Secondly, where BME staff were investigated under disciplinary procedures they were more likely than other staff to proceed to a hearing, receive a first written warning, receive a final written warning or to be dismissed. 

Thirdly, BME staff are disproportionately more likely to be referred to the General Social Care Council (GSCC) than other staff. It is not possible to draw precise conclusions as to why this is, since until recently there was no systematic analysis of whether ethnic origin is a factor in GSCC conduct proceedings. 

Justice at last for the Lawrence family is brilliant, and we have made real progress in this country in the past two decades on the workplace treatment of BME staff. But we still have a long way to go.

BME staff face discrimination in higher education

ECU report highlights discrimination in HE in England

Research published today by Equality Challenge Unit, the higher education equality body, found that the majority of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in HE who took part had experienced damaging effects on their careers by being treated as subordinates or excluded because of their race. (more…)

New data on BME voting patterns

The most authoritative and comprehensive study of British voting behaviour has found that only 16% of Black and minority ethnic people voted Conservative in the last election. In Runnymede’s recent press release on the issue, they also highlighted that ethnic minorities, on the whole, are highly supportive of British democracy. (more…)

UKREN Event: Social exclusion in BME and migrant communities: How is the UK meeting its European obligations?

UKREN is h0lding a conference exploring key challenges to social inclusion for ethnic minorities and migrants in the UK. From the perspective of both NGOs and the Government, this event will focus on how UK policy relates to recent European social inclusion strategies.

For more information please visit the Runnymede Trust website.

Bridging the Ethnic Employment Gap – BECON

30 November at Thornaby, Stockton on Tees

This is a full day BECON event.

The morning will provide an opportunity to hear about labour market trends and participate in workshops.

The afternoon will focus on providing skills and training on employability related issues to BME voluntary and community sector organisations.

To find out more visit and for a booking form visit

Migrant Rights Network videos: ‘Society Beyond Borders’

On the 8 September, Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) brought together 14 speakers to share their ideas and to deepen the public conversation on migration at a TEDxEastEnd event in London. (more…)

The Health & Social Care Black and Minority Ethnic Network

The Health & Social Care Black and Minority Ethnic Network has been formed in the face of the most difficult challenges for the NHS and the wider public sector in many years. (more…)

Voice of the North: Reflections on the Northern Youth Experience Report and Video

JUST West North Yorkshire has been working together with One North West and Union Street Media Arts in Manchester to bring together key partners working for and with young people in the North of England. The majority of young people participating in the project are from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

They disseminated the initial findings of the project in August this year. The young people working in the project have produced a youth-friendly version of the report and accompanying video.

The report has generated considerable interest among politicians and partners involved will be supporting the young people to table these issues directly to them.

Please read the full report and watch the video below: Reflections on the Northern Youth Experience Report



BRAP has released a briefing paper reflecting on the impact that 9/11 has had on British society. The briefing paper looks at the impact on religion, mainly Islam, as well as how the proper implementation of human rights principles can have a positive impact.

Please read BRAP’s fill report here: Reflections on 9-11

Oxfam – Routes to Solidarity Newsletter – Summer 2011

In this issue of the Routes to Solidarity newsletter Oxfam are looking at public policy developments and what they mean for ethnic minority women’s organisations.