MPs show support for ethnic minority groups

Early day motion calls on the Government to ensure funding and recognition of black and minority ethnic organisations

MPs have backed the launch of a campaign by ethnic minority umbrella group Voice4Change England to boost political recognition of the role black and minority ethnic organisations play in promoting equality and community cohesion.

An early day motion, signed by seven MPs, also calls on the Government to ensure councils continue to fund black and minority ethnic organisations.

Draft guidelines on community cohesion issued by the Communities and Local Government department last February instructed local authorities to focus grants on schemes that benefited the entire community.

Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, said last month that she had decided to scrap the guidelines and leave decisions on funding priorities to local authorities (Third Sector, 13 January, page 3).

But the signatories to the EDM, tabled by Alun Michael, the Labour MP and former Welsh First Minister, "consider it wrong that funders are being encouraged to have a presumption against single group funding" and accept that BME-specific organisations "have grown out of a recognition that many of the needs of diverse communities have not been adequately met by mainstream services".

Vandna Gohil, director of V4CE, said high-level political backing was necessary if the BME third sector was to overcome its current "lack of visibility" and secure the funding it needed. She said: "The Government looks to and often relies upon BME third sector organisations to engage with hard-to-reach sections of the community in delivering many of its policy programmes. Unfortunately, this reliance hasn't translated into increased funding."

She said she wanted MPs to support the work of BME organisations in their own constituencies. "We are urging front-line services to contact their MPs both to ask them to back the EDM and to invite them to meet staff and beneficiaries of their services," Gohil said.

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