Race commission member's charity criticises government over controversial report

Voice4Change England, which is led by Kunle Olulode, said the report on race in the UK lacked understanding of discrimination

A charity whose boss was a co-opted member of the government’s controversial race commission has criticised its conclusions for “selective” use of the evidence.

Voice4Change England, which is led by commissioner Kunle Olulode, condemned the government publicly for its lack of transparency, lending its voice to a growing wall of criticism since the findings of its independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities were published last month.

The commission has rejected the allegations.

The 258-page report found that Britain was not an institutionally racist country and suggested there was “a new story” to be told about slavery, which does not focus only on the suffering inflicted on victims.

While it acknowledged the existence of racism and racial injustice, it found geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion all have a greater impact on life chances.

Since its publication, several academics cited in the report have said they were not properly consulted, and that they were never tasked to produce research specifically for the commission.

More than 100 campaigners also signed a joint letter urging commission chair Tony Sewell to ditch the report, which they said denies the experiences of hundreds of black British citizens who were unlawfully stripped of their right to live and work in the UK in the Windrush scandal.

In a statement issued to The Observer newspaper over the weekend, Voice4Change England said: “The report does not give enough to show its understanding of institutional or structural discrimination… Evidence in sections, that assertive conclusions are based on, is selective.

“The report gives no clear direction on what expectations of the role of public institutions and political leadership should be in tackling race and ethnic disparities. What is the role of the state in this?”

In response, a spokesperson for the commission said: “We reject these allegations. They are deliberately seeking to divert attention from the recommendations made in the report. 

“The commission’s view is that, if implemented, these 24 recommendations can change for the better the lives of millions across the UK, whatever their ethnic or social background.

“That is the goal they continue to remain focused on.”

An additional statement published on Voice4Change England's website today said: “We will consult our members and communities to provide further analysis in response to the report, which can give voice to those who feel they have been ignored or marginalised. We will start with the sections on education and the criminal justice system.”

The day after the report was published, the Prime Minister’s special adviser for civil society and communities, Samuel Kasumu, announced plans to step down from his post in May.

A government spokesperson denied there was any link between the publication of the report and Kasumu’s resignation.

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