Almost a year ago BMENational issued a mission statement - a shared ambition for thriving, diverse communities. We set out the homes and services that our members are committed to delivering. We also issued a call to action for policymakers and community stakeholders to join us in addressing housing inequality and ensuring equality of opportunity.
The last 12 months has produced tectonic shifts in thinking and practice in the housing sector. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequalities that exist in our society, particularly in relation to race inequality.
I was asked to sit on numerous platforms over the course of the year to talk about the issues. The key problem is the fundamental lack of accurate data in relation to housing. In particular, allocations, employment and health issues thwarted me at every turn. Academic research since 2005 is almost impossible to find as race has fallen off the agenda.
If ever there was a more meaningful time to promote the completion of the national Census, then it is now, in 2021, when inequality is so high on the agenda. However, we know that many marginalised communities are suspicious and apathetic when it comes to completing the Census – what difference is it going to make to their lives?
We need to overcome these concerns and ensure representation of minority groups in the Census. Without accurate, properly evidenced data, it is very hard to make the case and focus resources on housing and other facilities that will makes people’s lives better. Everything anecdotal is ignored by those who do not wish to hear.
The Census is also important to ensuring that our workforce is representative of those who live in our homes. The National Housing Federation will be using results from the Census 2021 to populate their equality, diversity and inclusion data tool. This tool will build a picture of population characteristics by stock location, including gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity and will launch in the coming months.
Members of BMENational are working hard with their residents to encourage them to complete the Census but the majority of minority ethnic residents live in mainstream housing. So, we need you to play an active part to encourage and promote the Census completion to your minority ethnic tenants. The ONS has provided a toolkit of resources that is really helpful and easy to use. Together we can make that difference - to ensure that marginalised groups, many of whom live in our housing, get the chance to make their voices heard.