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Poverty Rate Doubles for Ethnic Minorities in Britain

A new report says the poverty rate for Britain's minority ethnic groups stands at 40 percent, double the 20 percent found among white British people. The report says minority ethnic groups are also being overlooked for jobs and are being paid lower wages, despite improvements in education and qualifications. Tendai Maphosa has the details in this report for VOA from London.

A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted the differences between minority ethnic groups, with 65 percent of Bangladeshis living in poverty compared to 55 percent of Pakistanis, 45 percent of Black Africans and 30 percent of Indians and Black Caribbeans. Over half of Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African children in the UK are growing up in poverty with a staggering 70 percent of Bangladeshi children growing up poor.

The report pointed out that people from minority ethnic groups who have higher educational achievements do not receive the same rewards as those from white British backgrounds with similar qualifications. Foundation director, Julia Unwin, urged government and employers to ensure that minority ethnic groups do not miss out on opportunities in the workplace and higher educational attainment is properly recognized.

Unwin acknowledged that while there have been some improvements over the past decade" there are still some very serious problems which remain unsolved."

The Committee for Racial Equality, or CRE, is a government agency that enforces race relations legislation in Britain. In a statement, the group's chairman, Kay Hamilton, described the current situation as "an invisible apartheid separating modern Britain."

Nick Johnson, a spokesman for CRE, told VOA that the problem of racial inequality has yet to be properly addressed in Britain.

"What we are left with is systemic inequalities that mean that our country is unable to deal with the diversity that it has," he said. " I think what it says [the report] is that Britain as a country has not moved on and is not tackling inequality in the way that it should be doing and I think that is something for politicians of all parties to address because we have talked a lot about politics of aspiration but actually it's the politics of inequality that matter."

Johnson added that legislation alone is not enough and a review of current practices and procedures by policy makers to enable a targeting of the needs of different groups is necessary. He called on government to take what he called a moral lead on the issue.