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Are English local authorities' practices on housing and council tax benefit administration meeting race equality requirements?

By Peter J. Aspinall and Lavinia Mitton


This paper investigates the extent to which the national and local state are meeting the requirements of race relations legislation in the area of means-tested housing and council tax benefits. Compliance with the prioritized duties is assessed in the context of both the wider issues driving the race equality agenda and more derailed arguments about managerial regimes and the central role of data. Two specific examples are pursued: the capacity to monitor take-up of benefits through an examination of ethnic monitoring on claims forms at different tiers of local government and an evaluation of progress through an analysis of the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate's reports. The evidence indicates that compliance with the Act is patchy and piecemeal and that in many local authorities, even the basic building block for assessing impacts, ethnic monitoring of claimants, is not available. Alternative sources are evaluated, including pooled data from government social surveys and eligibility for free school meals, collected in the annual pupil census. Given the evidence for continuing differentials in the incomes of people from minority ethnic groups, prompt action is needed to ensure that race equality is mainstreamed in benefit administration

Topics: H1
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1177/0261018307078848
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