Author: J.A. Beckford, R. Gale, D. Owen, C. Peach, and P. Weller (2006)
Publisher: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Release Date: April 2006
Source: No longer available on the website
This overview of the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh populations has been compiled for the ODPM – renamed the Department for Communities and Local Government after the May 2006 reshuffle – has been prepared by four of the leading academics with expertise in social geography and religious communities in Britain: Professor Paul Weller, University of Derby, Professor James Beckford and Dr David Owen, University of Warwick, Dr Richard Gale, University of Birmingham; and Professor Ceri Peach, University of Oxford. The professors have established an informal consultancy network, ‘The Mercia Group’.
The report provides a comprehensive survey – over 600 references are cited in the bibliography – of publications and ‘grey literature’ in the last decade relevant to the Department’s “strategic priorities of Housing Supply and Demand, Decent Places to Live, Tackling Disadvantage, Delivery Better Service and Promoting the Development of the English Regions” and “its bearing on the relationship between faith and other equalities strands in terms of ethnicities, gender, sexuality an disability”. The review was conducted betseen January and July 2005
The evidence-based compilation confirms conclusions that have been drawn from the religion question in the 2001 Census: that Muslims live in the most deprived neighbourhoods of the country with the highest rates of unemployment. The report notes that “33 per cent of the Muslim population is located in the 10 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods” (page 39). Their share of the population “broadly declines as prosperity increases”.
Nearly 18 per cent of Muslims aged 16-24 were unemployed and nearly 14 per cent of those aged 25+ (comparative figures for Hindus are 7 and 5 per cent respectively]. Forty per cent of Muslim [and 26 per cent of Hindu, for comparative purposes] experience housing deprivation.
Interestingly, the report challenges the stereotype that Britain is becoming sharply divided along ethno-religious lines and that Muslims in particular are an insular and self-isolating community. For example it notes “the Muslim population is more ethnically heterogenous than the Sikhs or Hindus” and “there were only three wards in London [of around 900] in which Muslims formed over half of the population” (page 42). Moreover, “all Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in England are currently living in wards with mixed populations. They do not live in religiously exclusive wards….the Jewish and the Hindu populations, for example, have concentrations in areas of affluence” (page 43).
Clearly a policy implication is that when tackling problems of poverty and deprivation within the Muslim community, this should be done in an inclusive way, bearing in mind pockets of poverty within the Christian and ethnically white groups.