Ethnic Inequality

Meeting: 
MQT on 2015-01-21
Session date: 
January 21, 2015
Reference: 
2015/0111
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

Given your responsibilities in relation to promoting social development in London, are you concerned that - and can you explain why - London has become a more unequal place for ethnic minorities in 23 of the 32 Boroughs plus the City of London according to Census data?

Answer

Answer for Ethnic Inequality

Answer for Ethnic Inequality

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Thanks, Jennette.  We are looking in depth at the Runnymede Trust report.  I am told that the conclusions are not perhaps quite as clear-cut as they might be.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  You would say that.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What I would say is that we are trying to tackle inequalities in every possible way throughout our strategies, not least by supporting the building of more housing in London, campaigning for the Living Wage and all the things we do to try to improve the lives and livelihoods of all Londoners.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Mr Mayor, I do not know what I need to say to get you on board and on side in a positive way.  I just hope that by the time they have briefed you on the Runnymede report you will accept that in London there has been an increase over the last ten years in ethnic inequality, in employment and in housing and health.  Six years of those have been under your administration.  For instance, when we look at black graduates, even when they attain a higher qualification, they are still being left further and further behind in the labour market.  A couple of years ago I heard you stand up as Mayor and as a parent and address an audience of over 1,000 black parents and teachers and you promised them that under your watch you would ensure that the inequalities that they experienced would not be passed on to their children.  Why are you failing in this?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Actually, if you look at the figures, you have more black and minority ethnic (BAME) young Londoners participating in education now than white young Londoners.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  They are not getting the jobs.  They are not getting the jobs.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am afraid to say that this is an increasingly complex area, the issue, as I am sure even you will appreciate ‑‑

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Not even me.  I know.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ that actually the so‑called majority group, the white kids, white males and white females are not necessarily performing brilliantly in all our schools and you will have seen the statistics.  This is a very complex picture and just to have an old‑fashioned view of ethnic minority underachievement is very far from a complete reflection of what is happening in London at the moment.  There are complicated issues that need to be addressed.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Mr Mayor ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I certainly agree aspiration and achievement by young black males in particular needs to be celebrated and encouraged.  It is being celebrated and we have done a huge amount of work to champion that and actually a great deal of success is being achieved.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Mr Mayor, you are missing the point yet again.  You are missing the point yet again.  I am talking about a specific group of people.  I am asking you ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Which one is that?

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  That is, for instance, young black graduates.  The evidence from the Runnymede Trust, from the work that I have commissioned out of my office and from the London Trust show that there are blocks to this particular group.  As the Mayor, you have a legal duty to ensure that your policies and how you implement them do not disproportionately impact on Londoners, especially those from ethnic minority groups.  I have looked at what you have done and I am saying to you it is just not enough.  Can I just say to you ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is completely ludicrous when you consider ‑‑

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  No, I wrote to you ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ that unemployment is now at record lows and people not in education, employment or training are at a 25‑year low.  We have had a huge programme of apprenticeships, about 55% of which have gone to girls or to women and 40% to BAME groups.  There has been a huge effort made on this and I absolutely defy you, Jennette, to say we have not struggled to find a way forward on this.  We have, to a very large extent, succeeded.  I am afraid it is old‑fashioned and out of date to say that these problems now exclusively affect the black community.  There are other ethnic groups in London that are also deserving of attention and we should focus on everybody.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  What you are missing are the words ‘disproportionately affects’.  If you look at the body of evidence that I am raising to you, it is quite clear that there is a factor working against this, especially ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You were talking about black graduates in particular.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  ‑‑ young black graduates that I am focusing on this morning.  Last year when I raised this, you said, “I agree that the high proportion of young BAME people in London who are unemployed is unacceptable”.  I am just saying to you a year on, when you promised that you would do more ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It has come down.  It has come down in that year.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  ‑‑ through your London Enterprise Panel (LEP), I can find no actions that you have taken ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What, apart from creating more jobs than ever before?

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  ‑‑ and I am saying to you that you are failing this particular group of Londoners and I have the evidence on my side.  Thank you.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is completely wrong.  You do not have any such evidence and actually ‑‑

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  I do.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You do not, and actually there has been a huge effort through all ‑‑

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Just step up and do more.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ sorts of programmes to get people from all communities, especially black males, into work.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Not enough.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  If you look at the results, we have more kids in employment than ever before in this city.  We have a massive apprenticeship programme.

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  I have finished, Chair, for now.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As you know, we have been running huge mentoring and outreach programmes throughout London, supporting them in all sorts of ways, and the results are there.  The results are also being seen in the decline in gang crime and knife crime ‑‑

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Not enough.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ which disproportionately - to use your word - affects young black males.  We are having a great deal of success in diverting vulnerable characters from those disastrous choices into education and into employment.  Look at the employment results.  Yes, of course there is always more we can do.  I am not going to deny that, Jennette, but really it is wrong to say we have not tried or that we have not succeeded.