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Britain in danger of becoming a ‘two-speed society’, warns government equalities watchdog

Britain in danger of becoming a ‘two-speed society’, warns government equalities watchdog
2 min read

Britain is at risk of becoming a “two-speed society" thanks to a string of "alarming backward steps" on the equalities agenda, according to the government’s own watchdog.

A new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that a series of setbacks were overshadowing progress made by the government to boost equality for the most disadvantaged groups in society.

The statutory three-year investigation from the group found that infant mortality has risen for the first time since the 1990s - with child poverty also on the increase.

The major study will come as a blow for Theresa May who used her first speech as Prime Minister to pledge to tackle society's “burning injustices”.

It warns that without swift action the UK risks become a “two-tier” country with inequality becoming “entrenched for generations to come”.

David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, said Britain faced a “defining moment” in the pursuit of equality.

“Across many areas in life, the losers struggle to make headway in a society where significant barriers still remain," he said.

“They are forgotten and left behind and unless we take action, it will be at least a generation before we put things right.”

The EHRC found that disabled people are being increasingly excluded in Britain, with a higher likelihood they will face poverty and lack access to suitable housing.

They warned of a sharp rise in the number of recorded hate crimes against disabled people – including high rates of domestic and sexual assault in England and Wales.

Meanwhile, Black African, Bangladeshi and Pakistani people remained the most likely groups in society to live in poverty, with Black Caribbean people in particular facing a level of deprivation that could cause damaging effects on their health, education and work prospects.

But the group welcomed progress in education, political participation and work, pointing to higher numbers of people from ethnic minorities attaining degree level qualifications and more people from disadvantaged backgrounds attending university.

The ECHR said new transparency rules had helped to reduce Britain's gender pay gap, but warned that women were still being held back by harmful gender stereotypes being promoted at schools.

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