Labour may favour black-owned firms for government contracts

Anneliese Dodds talks at the Party Conference in Liverpool - Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images
Anneliese Dodds talks at the Party Conference in Liverpool - Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

Companies led by black Britons could be given more government contracts if Labour wins the next election under plans being considered by the party.

Jacqueline McKenzie, a human rights lawyer and member of Labour’s race equality task force, said in an interview with The Voice newspaper that the idea was being discussed.

Ms McKenzie was quoted as saying: “There are no black firms that currently benefit at all, African heritage firms. We discussed that at length.”

Labour sources said that no decisions had been taken about such policies, with the task force yet to reach its conclusions and submit them to the party.

The task force, led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence, is providing policy ideas for improving race equality, with Labour shadow cabinet ministers to be the ones to set final policy.

It is unclear specifically how the government procurement process could be changed to achieve such an aim. A Labour source close to the thinking declined to elaborate.

But changes to procurement practices often have been touted by political parties in the past, including increasing the focus on Whitehall making purchases of UK-made products.

‘Security, prosperity and respect’

Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chairman, told The Guardian: “Labour will make tackling structural racial inequality a key mission in government by introducing a Race Equality Act to deliver security, prosperity and respect for everyone in this country.

“As the next general election draws closer and Labour prepares for government, the Act is being developed by the Labour front bench, working with Baroness Lawrence, policy and legal experts and community groups and this work is ongoing.”

Labour has already announced that it would make the publication of ethnicity pay gaps mandatory for firms with more than 250 staff, to mirror gender pay gap reporting.

That policy was announced as part of what the party dubbed “a new deal for working people”.

The blurb for the policy package read: “The Labour Party has a long and proud history of being the Party not just of working people but for working people.

“From day one, a Labour government will strengthen workers’ rights and make Britain work for working for people.

“Everyone deserves a job they can live on and build a life on, no matter who they are or what job they do. Our ambition to ensure a fair day’s pay for a day’s work is core to our values.

“We all deserve high-quality, secure, rewarding jobs.”