Empowering people is central to our mission and vision in Kingston. We are always looking for new ways to improve people’s lives by giving them more influence over the services they receive. I am proud that Kingston is at the forefront of a new initiative to ensure people from ethnic minorities have the same opportunities and access to services as everyone else in the community.
The Runnymede Trust’s pioneering Race Equality Scorecard project, which we launched last month, involves partnering with local race equality bodies in three London boroughs – Croydon, Kingston and Redbridge. We are collecting and monitoring data on racial inequalities in these areas across seven indicators such as employment.
The aim is to create a constructive dialogue with local authorities and eventually to publish scorecards assessing how councils are carrying out their responsibilities around equality. The scorecard for each borough will then be published later in the year.
Kingston has become much more ethnically mixed: a quarter (25.5%) of Kingston residents were identified as members of black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups in the last census, compared with 15.5% in 2001. The borough’s Korean population (making up 2.2% of our residents) is the largest in England and Wales. We are taking on this new project as a testament to how seriously we take engagement with our communities, and how important race equality is in delivering public services fairly.
The race equality scorecard will help the council to build on its positive work with partners such as the Kingston Race and Equalities Council, an organisation set up to support ethnic minority groups and ensure that minority and refugee communities have a voice to represent their views.
The value of the scorecard project is that we are giving people the opportunity to engage in a conversation about a vitally important aspect of our society. We want to get as many people involved in the debate as possible so we can bring the data we have to life in order to more fully understand the needs of our residents.
We have suffered a third consecutive year of cuts to government funding for Kingston yet our population is growing, which means greater demand for things like school places and health services. The council’s partners, including the voluntary sector, are also under extreme financial pressure.
This is why Kingston must continue to deliver the services that matter most to local people. It is vital in the current economic climate that we plan ahead to meet the needs of the community. Equality is at the heart of this planning.
The scorecard system will help us to improve the way we work and make sure that equality issues influence our decision making, policies and services while fostering good relations by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people. By piloting the project in Croydon, Kingston and Redbridge we will see how effective the scorecards can be in very different contexts.