BME organisations could withdraw support for equality bill

The proposed single equality bill could lose the support of black and minority ethnic voluntary groups unless they are consulted on the legislation

Black and minority ethnic voluntary sector organisations will find it difficult to support new equality laws unless the proposed legislation is changed, campaigning groups have warned.

The Winning the Race Coalition, which was started by BME organisation Voice4Change England and think tank Race on the Agenda, has called for a meeting with Harriet Harman, the leader of the House of Commons, to discuss the new single equality bill, which consolidates various pieces of discrimination legislation.

Among the changes called for by the coalition are an explicit legal duty to make sure public contracts are only awarded to private and third sector organisations that provide equal opportunities.

The coalition is also calling for the bill to allow positive discrimination for access to employment, training or promotion.

"The Government will be looking to our sector to help deliver its equalities agenda," said Vandna Gohil, director of Voice 4Change England. "However, if it fails to engage with us on the framing of the bill then it will be difficult to support policy we had little say in."

The bill was included in the draft Queen's Speech last May and is expected to be introduced to Parliament this spring.

Members of the coalition also include the umbrella bodies the NCVO and Navca, as well as women's equality charity the Fawcett Society and the Black Training and Enterprise Group.

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