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BAME Groups (Labour Market)

Volume 574: debated on Thursday 30 January 2014

3. What recent discussions she has had on the position of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the labour market. (902275)

The ethnic minority employment stakeholder group supports the Government’s ethnic minority employment strategy. The group meets regularly and reports progress to the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey), who has responsibility for employment.

Back in November, an inquiry report published by the all-party parliamentary group on race and community and the Runnymede Trust found that discrimination was present at every stage of the recruitment process. What plans does the Minister have to tackle illegal discrimination, and what new approaches is he developing to tackle BAME unemployment through the Work programme?

To answer the second part of the question first, we look at each individual case. Evidence has shown that that approach has been much more successful in getting people, particularly those from the black community, into work. If there is discrimination, there is legislation on the statute book to deal with it. It should be reported to us and we will take action.

Half of all young black men between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed. What specific schemes will the Government introduce to deal with that serious problem?

I have great respect for the right hon. Gentleman, but his figure is not quite correct, because 80% of that 51% of young black men are in full-time education. That is what is actually going on. We need to work hard on individuals and ensure that the discrimination that the hon. Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) referred to does not take place. We must work together to do that and that is what we intend to do.

The latest annual figures show that the rate of non-white unemployment has risen by 9.2%. Why is that happening?

In some areas of the country, we have work to do in respect of unemployment. We are working very hard on that. We need to work together. One area that is of particular concern to me is the high unemployment rate in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, particularly among women. One reason for that, although not the only reason, is that there are language issues. We need to work on that closely in our constituencies, which I am doing in my constituency, because English is not usually spoken fully by ladies in those two communities.