Agencies ‘happy’ to discriminate against ethnics

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BBC Investigation uncovers evidence

AN investigation by the BBC has discovered letting agents and employment agencies in the west of England are still willing to discriminate against ethnic minority groups.

Of 30 temping agencies contacted across the West, 25 agreed to a request for a receptionist job to be offered only to white workers, an investigation by regional documentary series BBC Inside Out West found.

Seventeen out of 30 letting agencies also said they were happy not to show families from an ethnic minority background a particular house which would soon be vacant and available for rent.

Under the Race Relations Act it is unlawful for employers and landlords to discriminate in such a way.

Professor Tariq Modood, of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, said he was “surprised” by the evidence.

“I’m surprised how many people were willing to go along with the suggestion, a very blatant suggestion, of discrimination”, he said.

“It’s greater than I would have expected. Past surveys have tended to suggest maybe a third of people will discriminate and you have found that it is greater than that.”

A BBC Inside Out West researcher first posed as a landlord with a two-bedroom family house to rent.

After calling a lettings agency and telling them he did not want anyone from an ethnic minority background, they replied: “We would try and distract them, that it’s not suitable for them, but obviously we have other ways of not making it available to them.”

In another call to an employment agency, the researcher tells them he is after a receptionist who must be white.

During the call the agency tells the researcher: “It’s difficult with the accent over the phone isn’t it? I understand that, yeah, shouldn’t really say that but taken on board.”

In the same conversation the researcher again reiterates his desire to have a white receptionist telling the Agency: “Just send through white.” The Agency replies: “Yep. Normal people.”

Veteran race campaigner Paul Stephenson, who fought against the Bristol Bus Company’s ban on black drivers in the Sixties, says: “It shows you the enormity of the problem. It’s enormously frustrating to learn how seriously little progress we have made.”

 

BBC Inside Out West, Wednesday 14 January at 7.30pm on BBC One in the West.

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