Race targets set terms for contracts

Private-sector firms will increasingly have to meet strict race targets in
order to win contracts from public bodies as a result of new
anti-discrimination laws.

The conditions will be used by public-sector organisations to prove they are
actively promoting race equality.

The new duty on public bodies is part of amendments to the Race Relations
Act 1976, announced by Home Secretary Jack Straw last month.

The use of non-commercial criteria, including equality issues, in deciding
how contracts are awarded was curtailed by the Conservative government in the
late 1980s.

But a return to contract compliance is seen as necessary for public bodies
to show they are promoting race equality in their employment practices.

"If councils do not seek to promote equality through contracts, they
might be subject to action from government," said Sarah Palmer, principal
information officer at the Employers Organisation for Local Government.

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