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Regeneration must stop catering to ‘mythical’ white working class

Decision-makers behind the regeneration of northern towns and cities should stop catering to a ‘mythical’ white working-class and focus more on the needs of ethnic minorities, a report has warned.

Academics from the University of Leeds and think tank the Runnymede Trust have produced the report Class, Race and Inequality in Northern Towns which says ‘hostile’ narratives around the working-class are often exclusively white, which ignores significant ethnic minority working-class communities in many Northern towns and cities.

These include older post-colonial minorities, as well as substantial new migrant groups ­­– both European workers and asylum seekers.

The report adds that these narratives have been amplified due to Brexit whilst highlighting that Northern cities such as Leeds and Manchester have among the largest minority populations in the UK.

It says all regeneration schemes in the region should consider the historical and present-day contribution of a racially and ethnically diverse local community, as well as reflecting this diversity in their decision-making processes.

The report also calls for the creation of a ‘new, inclusive narrative’ of a multi-ethnic working class, and says inequalities should be tackled regardless of ethnicity.

Dr Roxana Barbulescu, who leads the Commission on Diversity in the North project with Professor Adrian Favell, said: ‘Racial inequalities are a feature of modern Britain but they run deeper in the North of England – in towns and smaller places.

‘Yet the North is not a monolithic area and there is remarkable variation between cities and towns.

‘Future plans for regeneration of Northern cities and towns have to reflect and cater to their racially diverse population,

‘The government has taken a step in the right direction with the introduction of a national Racial Disparity Audit but this should be followed by investment in the areas with the highest inequalities to uphold the commitments taking place under the Equality Act and they have to be articulated within wider policy agenda such as the Industrial Strategy.’

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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