Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda


Memorandum by Dr Mohammed Ali OBE (GRI 40)

  This note is based on my personal experience of working with ethnic minority communities in general and South Asian communities in particular since 1983.

  The government's regenerations initiatives have not been effective, as far as large sections of around one million British Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are concerned and may even have contributed to the disproportionate high levels of poverty and disadvantage that exist in these groups compared with other minority communities in the UK. Note that the population of these communities is expected to rise significantly over the next two decades, when it will have more than doubled to what it was in 1998.

  Over the years the poverty levels amongst people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds have increased dramatically. According to the Social Exclusion Unit report, these communities suffer disproportionately high levels of poverty and disadvantage. Whilst 28 per cent of the general population lives in households where the income is less than half the national average, for African-Caribbean and Indians this is 40 per cent but for the Pakistani and Bangladeshi it is 80 per cent! A situation that must be halted and reversed if we are to stop the recurrence of 2000 disturbances in northern towns and cities where they are concentrated. The young age structure of these groups presents an opportunity to address the skill shortages and inward investment in the areas affected by declining manufacturing industries.

  Most of the ethnic minority population of the UK lives in inner-city wards suffering from disadvantage: 70 per cent live in 88 local authority areas, which are the beneficiaries of the government's neighbourhood regeneration grants. The majority of Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities also live in these areas.

  It is generally acknowledged that all communities in deprived areas suffer from poverty and disadvantage, hence the grants, and that black and Asian people suffer much more due to additional factors of racial, cultural and religious discrimination. The aspiration that area based intervention will benefit all communities leading to an improved quality of life for everyone. What is not appreciated is the fact that there are huge social and economic diversities within and between minority ethnic communities; perhaps unwittingly, I believe, some regeneration initiatives may be contributing to these predicaments.

  There is a feeling that socio-economic position of minority ethnic groups and the population living in inner-city areas has improved somewhat over the years as a result of regeneration schemes. However, British Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities have not benefited to the same extent from millions or even billions of pounds of regeneration investment as is evident from their poverty levels compared with other communities.

  All minority groups share some or all of following characteristics. However, British Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are affected to a much greater extent by these factors and are responsible for the continuation of decline in these communities:

    —  In general ethnic minorities are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts with same backgrounds; however, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are four times as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts!

    —  A significant increase in number of people involved in regeneration partnerships has been achieved but with little impact in the delivery or management of regeneration schemes.

    —  Almost no involvement in senior management in delivering regeneration schemes or to research and consultancies associated with these programmes.

    —  Hardly any representation in senior jobs in the public, private and the mainstream voluntary sectors. A simple audit of senior management in the local authorities will reveal a social and economic exclusion if these groups. Economic integration starts from the work place!

    —  High levels of graduate unemployment.

    —  Lower economic activity amongst women, although there are pleasant signs that this is increasing amongst the younger population as is expected.

    —  Significantly lower than average education achievement levels amongst Bangladeshi and Pakistani school leavers.

    —  Higher levels of stay on rate in schools but coming out with poor higher level qualifications contributing to high unemployment levels.

    —  Little take up of good quality training schemes at school leaving age.

    —  Concentrated in narrow, poorly paid and some declining sector of the small business economy (small retail shops, takeaways and taxis).

    —  Very few successful role models from their communities to look up to.

    —  A strong perception of religious discrimination based on the fact that almost all of them are Muslims. International issues and the media coverage have a very serious impact creating a strong feeling of apathy.

    —  Being used by mainstream institutions, as a backdrop to the funding proposal, to leverage resources and then abandoning them.

    —  Lack of representation in many sectors of the economy eg the media, construction.

    —  Very poorly developed and resourced community and voluntary sector to address the needs of their local neighbourhoods effectively.

  In conclusion I would recommend that the regeneration initiatives address the root causes of the current situation affecting British and Pakistani communities living in deprived neighbourhood areas. The various regeneration initiatives must understand the community dynamics and the diversities that exist within and between different minority ethnic groups in order to address these issues.

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION GIVES FURTHER DETAILS OF THE WORK OF QED TO ADDRESS SOME OF THE ISSUES IDENTIFIED ABOVE.

  QED was set up in 1990 and aims to improve the social, educational and economic circumstances of disadvantaged South Asian communities in the UK by:

KEY OBJECTIVE 1

  Developing campaigns, activities and processes that enable disadvantaged sectors of the south Asian communities to become sufficiently competent, committed and confident to take advantage of opportunities for advancement in all aspects of British life.

  Activities include:

    —  Training 200 south Asian parents to play a more effective part in their children's educations and school lives.

    —  Organising four major seminars exploring the role of the community in education in various parts of Yorkshire, which were attended by more than 200 delegates.

    —  Training 80 unemployed people in skills which will enhance their career prospects, including English for speakers of other languages (ESOL).

    —  Helping 30 newly arrived young adults from overseas, who had already gained useful educational qualifications and work experience, to become economically active in this country.

    —  Directing more than 150 newly arrived people to agencies more suited to meeting their particular educational and social needs.

    —  Helping 60 small community and voluntary groups to meet their new technology skills needs.

    —  Running an annual Pathways to Employment project, which promotes non-traditional career opportunities, for 40 sixth-form pupils and five leading local employers.

    —  Organising a series of events promoting non-traditional occupations to south Asian communities throughout the country. The latest campaign focuses on the senior civil service and recruitment melas.

    —  Working with 10 schools and employers to run seminars for young people on non-traditional career opportunities in the public and private sectors.

    —  Researching and identifying areas where voluntary sector provision does not meet the needs of disadvantaged groups, and then setting up new initiatives that bridge the gap. Recent examples include the foundation of St Paul's Elderly Community Centre and Youthquest.

    —  Supporting the development of more than 100 small voluntary and community groups of south Asian background throughout the Yorkshire region in a variety of ways, through South Asian Voluntary Organisations Network (SAVON)

    —  Training 80 people in West Yorkshire to play a part in local regeneration schemes.

    —  Managing an independent charitable trust (Pukaar Foundation) which develops the voluntary sector infrastructure by raising funds from the south Asian communities and also distributing mainstream funds to every sector of the communities.

    —  Organising campaigns to encourage south Asian businesses to seek help from the mainstream business support agencies. One major event is organised every year.

    —  Encouraging south Asian businesses to invest in training owner-managers and staff by showing successful role models from within the communities. 20 businesses take part each year.

    —  Promoting economic diversification among south Asian groups by identifying role models and encouraging new and established businesses to follow their examples. Twenty businesses take part in these events.

    —  Helping to develop the skills of individuals and organisations which provide services to meet the needs of south Asian communities and which are run by members of the community.

    —  Administering Community Chest/Community Learning Funds on behalf of the Government Office (Yorkshire).

KEY OBJECTIVE 2

  Supporting, advising and training senior individuals from the public, private and mainstream voluntary sectors to enable them to understand the cultural, linguistic and religious implications of diversity in multicultural society.

  Activities include:

    —  Organising cultural awareness training, advice on recruitment and a positive action project, community influencers' visits and perception surveys with the Bradford & Bingley.

    —  Membership of Abbey National's Bradford Race Diversity Action Group. Organising cultural awareness training and advice on recruitment and positive actions.

    —  Organising cultural awareness training for Halifax plc, Barclays Bank and managers of Yorkshire Building Society.

    —  Managing funds for community activities in West Yorkshire through the Pukaar Foundation, an independent charitable trust which focuses on those ethnic communities that are difficult for mainstream agencies to reach, on behalf of Yorkshire Water.

    —  Completing a black and Asian staff perceptions survey for Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council in October 2000.

    —  Organising cultural awareness training, and providing community contacts and advice on positive action schemes for the Environment Agency (North East Region).

    —  Initiating and developing a major national campaign promoting senior civil service employment among south Asian communities. Since March 2000, events have been organised in London, Huddersfield, Manchester, Bradford and Birmingham for the Cabinet Office, Home Office, Inland Revenue and DfEE.

    —  Organising cultural awareness training and providing recruitment advice for the Royal Navy.

    —  Organising cultural awareness training and giving advice on positive action schemes for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

    —  Advising on an Asian drama series to raise awareness of health issues for Bradford Health Authority.

    —  Conducting community consultations with more than 200 black and Asian ethnic minority groups in Yorkshire and Humberside for the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward.

    —  Giving help and advice on fundraising from south Asian groups to members of the Community Foundations Network throughout the country.

KEY OBJECTIVE 3

  Influencing networks at local, regional, national and even international levels to campaign for the advancement of disadvantaged south Asian communities.

  Activities include:

National

    —  DTI Ethnic Minority Business Forum

    —  Community Foundation Network Executive Committee

    —  Community Forum, Department of Deputy Prime Minister

    —  Sounding Board, Community Fund

    —  Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations

Regional

    —  Yorkshire Forward (Regional Development Agency for Yorkshire and the Humberside)

    —  Learning & Skills Council (West Yorkshire)

    —  Learning & Skills Council (Humberside)

    —  OBJECTIVE 2 Programme Monitoring Committee

    —  Yorkshire & Humberside Diversity Leadership Forum

    —  BBC Children in Need

    —  The Regional Forum for Yorkshire & Humber (voluntary sector)

    —  Y&H Funding Advice Workers Network

    —  Yorkshire Water Community Trust

    —  Yorkshire Young People's Enterprise Forum

    —  Diversity Practitioners Forum (West Yorkshire)

    —  West Yorkshire Charities Information Bureau

Local

    —  Abbey National Diversity Action Group

    —  Bradford & Bingley Diversity Group

    —  Bradford NHS Hospitals Trust Employment Advisory Group

    —  Department of Health Asian Drama Project

    —  Bradford Common Purpose Forum

    —  Building Communities Partnership

    —  South Asian Arts Forum

    —  Macmillan Cancer Care


 
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Prepared 28 October 2002