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UK minorities lag behind white counterparts on income

Despite improvements and a partial closing of the inequality gap, minorities are still at the bottom of wealth pyramid.

Ethnic minorities

Ethnic minorities in the UK continue to have significantly worse standards of living than their white counterparts, a study by the think-tank Resolution Foundation has found.

The report published on Monday says British Bangladeshis were worse off than any other community with average household disposable incomes of around 8,900 British pounds ($11,600) less than white households, which ranked the highest.

White British families have a median disposeable income of 25,300 pounds ($33,300), British Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have a median of less than 17,000 pounds ($23,300), and Black Africans households have just under 20,000 pounds ($26,600) on average.

British Indians, however, have average incomes significantly higher than other minority groups and closer to their white counterparts at 25,000 pounds.

The figures have been calculated after taxes and benefits and exclude the cost of housing, which disproportionately affects minorities because they are usually concentrated in more expensive cities such as London, where costs are higher.

The study recorded significant strengthening of income for British Pakistani and Bangladeshi males and rising employment for women from both of those communities, but still far behind white Britons.

Bangladeshi women saw a huge jump in employment rate from 17 percent in 2003 to 35 percent in 2017, a bigger increase than any other community, but still far behind white women at 72 percent.

"Differences in living standards between ethnicities in Britain too often go ignored," said Adam Corlett, a senior economic analyst at the Resolution foundation, adding: "This matters because income gaps between different minority ethnic groups and white British households are significant and persistent.

"We should be encouraged by the fact that there have been big improvements in some instances, such as the impressive employment gains seen among black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani men and women."

'Racial discrimination'

Farah Elahi of the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think-tank, said she welcomed the findings and called for government action to address the causes of inequality between different communities.

"The gap in living standards between ethnic minority and white communities remains large and shows that social mobility is bad overall but even worse for minorities," she said. 

Farah Elahi, Runnymede Trust, Race Equality Think Tank: There are different factors as to why there are such unequal outcomes for ethnic minorities in the job market but the evidence suggests that racial discrimination from employers is the main reason

"Despite improving educational attainment for ethnic minorities we are not seeing equivalent improvements in household income. Given the youthful age profile of most ethnic minority communities, now is the time to address the structural factors that give rise to these inequalities," Elahi added.

When asked about the causes of such inequality, she responded: "There are different factors as to why there are such unequal outcomes for ethnic minorities in the job market but the evidence suggests that racial discrimination from employers is the main reason."

The Resolution Foundation is a non-partisan think-tank aimed at improving standards of living for middle and low-income Britons, headed by former Conservative Party minister David Willetts.

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