London needs Deputy Mayor for Equality

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow London Minister, has today urged Boris Johnson to appoint a dedicated Deputy Mayor for Equality, with responsibility for tackling race and gender inequality in the city. Khan said the Mayor needs a senior adviser to take the lead on tackling race inequality, as the problem has significantly worsened under Boris Johnson’s Mayoralty.

Responsibility for diversity in the Mayor’s administration currently sits as a secondary duty for the Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture. The Mayor has a dedicated Deputy Mayor or senior advisor for each of the following positions; the Economy, Business and Enterprise, Environment and Energy, Education and Culture, Transport, Housing, Land and Property, Volunteers, Charities and Sponsorship, but not for equality, diversity or race equality.

42% of London’s population is black or minority ethnic. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the unemployment rates among black and Pakistani Londoners aged 16-24 has reached 44 per cent, more than double the 19 per cent jobless rate of young whites. For black men the unemployment rate has risen to 55.5 per cent. This figure has almost doubled since Boris Johnson became Mayor in 2008. 34% of Londoners of Bangladeshi or Pakistani descent earn less than the London Living Wage, compared to 15% of white Londoners. Black and ethnic minority Londoners are six times as likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white Londoners.

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow London Minister, said:

“We can’t tackle the rising gap between the rich and poor in London, without also tackling race inequality. It’s a problem that has gone backwards under Boris Johnson and the Coalition. We will never be able to improve race equality without a clear lead from Government. We need a proper race equality strategy embedded at the heart of Government and a strong lead from the Mayor of London. It’s not good enough to just to cross our fingers and hope things improve on their own.

London needs a dedicated Deputy Mayor for Equality to drive forward the fight against race inequality and bring together the different strands of Mayoral work – from policing to apprenticeships – that affect race equality. It would send a powerful message  to black and minority ethnic Londoners if they saw someone given a senior role alongside the Mayor of London to tackle this problem. But it’s not just about sending a signal, someone needs to get a grip of this at City Hall. As the Mayor of one of the most diverse cities in the world, Boris Johnson has a special responsibility on race inequality that he is currently failing to live up to.”

Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon said: 

“We still have a long way to go in tackling race inequality in London. Through my years of campaigning on this issue I have learnt that nothing changes unless we keep the pressure up. A Deputy Mayor for Equality would be a huge step forward in tackling race inequality in the most diverse city in Europe.”

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