The scourge of racism has been significantly reduced since Labour came to power, but prejudice and inequality driven by old class divisions still has to be rooted out, the government said on Thursday.
John Denham, the Communities Secretary, said in a speech that although racism still exists in modern society, black and Asian communities are no longer held back.
He said tackling discrimination and inequality must now focus on deep social class differences.
"Sustained action over the last ten years has promoted racial equality and better race relations, dismantled unfair barriers faced by many and helped to nurture a society more comfortable with diversity than ever before," Denham said.
But he pointed to statistics illustrating how pupils from Asian backgrounds are racing up the education system, while some of their white working class peers struggle to keep up.
The minister, launching a review of race policy, said there is a need to understand the way racism interplays with factors such as migration, economics and religious identity.
"New trends are emerging linked to the way that race and class together shape people's lives and this makes the situation much more complex," he said.
"So rather than reducing our efforts to tackle racism, we have got to be more nuanced in what we are doing."
In his policy review launch, Denham pledged support to tackle inequality in white working class areas as well as in minority communities.
The commitment is intended to try to quash the appeal of the far right British National Party, which has recruited heavily in areas where white working class people believe other ethnic groups are being favoured over them.
Radio 2 in their report on Thursday said that poverty & social class were whats now holding people back, not race issues, isnt that just fine & dandy, now your on the back foot & back down on the bottom of the pile if your working class & living on the breadline as a lot of us are, soon we're be classed as a third world nation, wheres the billions we give away in aid overseas, why isnt that being used to get OUR people out of poverty & give them a hand up the ladder? or is that just too simplistic?