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Black and Minority Ethnic Communities

Volume 547: debated on Thursday 28 June 2012

7. What assessment she has made of the potential effect of recent labour market trends on black and minority ethnic communities. (114074)

Tackling unemployment is a priority for this Government. Our approach is to support people according to their individual needs and circumstances rather than segregate them according to ethnicity. That is why we have introduced personalised support through the Work programme, the youth contract, and the Get Britain Working measures. The significantly increased flexibility that we have given to providers and Jobcentre Plus means that interventions can be tailored to address an individual’s specific needs.

Given, however, that 44.4% of economically active 16 to 24-year-old black people are without work, compared with just 20% of white people, is not this policy not working?

The hon. Gentleman raises the issue of the number of young black men who are out of work. However, the recent press coverage gave inaccurate figures. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that less than a third of black men aged 18 to 24 are unemployed. The Government recognise that that figure is still too high, which is why we have introduced tailored and personalised support to help people get back into the labour market.

The whole House recognises the difficulty of getting certain groups of people into work. Does the Minister agree that payment by results is the way to ensure that the right level of resources is targeted at those who are hardest to help?

My hon. Friend highlights exactly the right point. Work programme providers are encouraged by payment by results, which means that when a young black man comes in, the providers will not get paid unless they remove the barriers that are prohibiting him from getting work, whether through education, training, skills or whatever else.

Is not the fact that young black men are still being hit hardest of all by the Government’s economic failure? Should not the Equalities Minister commit to publishing a full audit of what is happening to young men from different BME backgrounds and the impact that that is having? The latest figures show that unemployment among young white men has gone up by three percentage points since the election, and among young black men by 14 percentage points. There is currently no targeted support for young black men in getting apprenticeships, and the Work programme clearly is not working. Faced with this growing crisis, will Ministers now take serious action to provide the support for jobs and opportunities that young people from all backgrounds need, and consider a bankers’ bonus tax so that they can do so?

The Work programme introduces the conditions that will get young black men into work. That is something that never happened under the Labour Government. The number of people from ethnic minorities who are in work is up by 179,000 compared with 2010. Moreover, on the issue of BME apprenticeships, which the right hon. Lady raised, 2010-11 saw the highest ever percentage of BME apprentices start their training. The labour market trend for the number of people starting apprenticeships has gone up significantly in recent years, from 167,000 in 2003 to 457,200 in 2010-11. We are doing what Labour failed to do.

8. What recent discussions she has had with her ministerial colleagues on unemployment levels in black and minority ethnic communities. (114075)

Following on from what has been said, black and ethnic minority people seem to figure higher in the unemployment figures in Scotland. Has any of the Ministers present discussed this matter with any Minister in the Scottish Government?

We work closely with the Scottish Government on this issue. As I said, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I have given. We have put in place a Work programme that will deliver results; Labour never did.