Monitoring the ethnicity of housing service users: forty years of progress?

Ethnic monitoring has been defined by the former Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) as the process an organisation uses to collect, store and analyse data about people's ethnic background (CRE, 2002). In its fullest definition it consists of four stages: a. developing a system of collecting, recording and maintaining information about racial and ethnic background; b. activating the system; c. analysing the data; and d. acting on the findings. Data collected can be used to highlight possible inequalities, investigate their underlying causes and remove any unfairness or disadvantage. In service delivery, monitoring can tell an organisation which groups are using its services and how satisfied they are with them. The organisation can then consider ways of reaching underrepresented groups and ensuring that its services are both relevant to their needs and provided fairly. This briefing paper focuses on ethnic monitoring and service delivery rather than on broader equalities issues (such as gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion) or employment. Many of the lessons learned from implementing and maintaining ethnic monitoring are, however, clearly applicable to the monitoring of these other dimensions of equality.

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