Government launches new body to 'tackle social injustices'

16 Jul 2019 News

A new independent body that will use data to drive governments’ work against social injustices, was announced by the Prime Minister Theresa May last week.

The Office for Tackling Injustices will use data and analytics to find the key barriers for specific groups, including those across different socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, disabilities and sexual orientations.

May said: “Deep-seated societal injustice requires a long-term focus and cannot be eliminated overnight.

“Since becoming Prime Minister, I have challenged the injustices which still exist in our society through the power of data – from our world-leading gender pay gap reporting to the Race Disparity Unit – and I have demanded that if disparities cannot be explained, they must be changed.

“I am proud of what we have achieved to make the UK a more just society. 

“But there is more to be done now and in the years to come, if we are truly to say that this is a country which works for everyone – no matter who they are or where they’re from.

“That’s why the Office for Tackling Injustices will go further, using the power of data, gathered from extensive sources, to shine a spotlight on key injustices and provide the catalyst for better policy solutions. 

“By holding government and wider society to account, we can create lasting change.”

Reactions from sector

Helen Barnard, deputy director of policy and partnerships at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said on Twitter: “You don't tackle injustices with data. 

“You use data to understand them and do stuff to get rid of them. 

“I'm a big fan of data and evidence - but we've got plenty of data about injustices and the solutions to them. 

“What we've lacked is the action bit."

Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy at Acevo said: “I'm sceptical as to whether this will lead to genuine action or change. 

“The government dismissed the UN rapporteur report on poverty, this and other evidence of inequality that already exists isn't acted on. 

“I hope I'm wrong and this new office can hold the government to account.”

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall said: “We’re really pleased that the government is making this commitment to improve the data we have on the challenges facing LGBT communities. 

“Reliable data on the experience of LGBT people is scarce, and there are huge difficulties gathering it. 

“The Office for Tackling Injustices will give us a clearer picture of the barriers and better enable us to act against the discrimination LGBT people still face.”

Sector letter urges better use of data

Meanwhile group of civil society organisations yesterday wrote an open urging the government to overhaul its use of data as a matter of urgency.

The letter to Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport warned that without investment in better data the department could not understand its own operations or the quality of its provisions.

It called for “leadership from the very top” and for the National Data Strategy, which is being drafted, to “go beyond public services” and “shape how data is used across the whole of society through interventions such as research funding”.

Signatory Geoff Mulgan, chief executive at Nesta said: “Data matters for every field of government activity, and in the past the UK has been at the forefront of movements like open data.   

“Now we risk falling behind, with a lack of strategy and grasp. 

“Government is failing to make the most of its own data, and failing to move quickly enough to put in place the new governance arrangements we need to simultaneously earn public trust and maximise the value from data.  

“These problems are eminently soluble - but they won't be solved without much more concerted leadership.”

 

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