Citizens Advice apologises for training guidance described as 'horribly racist'

Working with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities has been described as 'reductive' by the Runnymede Trust, a racial equality think tank; CA has withdrawn the document and will investigate

Citizens Advice has apologised "unreservedly" and promised to investigate after a piece of its training guidance was criticised as racist on social media.

The guidance, called Working with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, was published in 2017 and used by training managers preparing staff in local offices to deal with members of the public.

The guidance included a section on "barriers we find in BAME communities", which it listed as "an intrinsically cash-centric culture, a society that revolves around religious belief, a distrust of British authorities" and "evidence of gender bias and discrimination".

The list of barriers also included "isolated communities, low levels of literacy, intradependence: close-knit extended families, early marriage and large families, and a cultural focus on honour and shame".

The guidance was tweeted by Fatima Iftikhar, founder of POCIMPACT, a community for people of colour in the social impact sector, who called the material "horribly racist".

A tweet from the Runnymede Trust, a racial equality think tank, described the language in the training as "reductive" and said it was disappointing to see it being used by an organisation tasked with supporting applicants to the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

The guidance, which was available on the Citizens Advice website, has since been removed.

In a statement, Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "We agree these materials are not acceptable and apologise unreservedly.

"We have taken them down from our website and will be investigating how this has happened.

"Citizens Advice helps anyone, anywhere, whatever their problem. We strive to ensure our service is truly inclusive."

But in a series of tweets, Iftikhar described the response as inadequate and called on the charity to recognise that the guidance indicated "deep-set institutional racism across your organisation that needs to be addressed", to publicly outline what the investigation would involve, how results would be shared and how BAME staff would be included and supported in the process.

A spokeswoman for the charity said it could not comment further on the investigation at this point as it was still in the process of setting it up, adding that it was more important to be thorough.

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