Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
from the Prime Minister
I promised to write with more detail on a number
of points raised during my appearance before the Liaison Committee
on 4 July.
Phyllis Starkey asked about the Government's
activities which specifically focus on addressing inequalities
experienced by Muslim communities, with particular references
to employment and education. I have attached a note which sets
out in detail what the Government is doing to address these issues.
Mike Gapes asked about the number of people
who come to the United Kingdom legally to work, to study, to join
families or to seek asylum each year. The enclosed tables provide
the information requested. The provisional figures for last year
are close to the approximations I gave at the Committeethere
were just under 12 million people arriving in the UK: 284,000
people came to study and the number of asylum applications (excluding
dependents) was 25,720. There were fewer applications for
asylum in 2005 than in any year since 1994. The tables also give
figures for those coming to the UK as visitorsclose to
7 million last yearand more detailed figures for those
coming here to work and their dependants, and those joining family
Barry Sheerman asked about funding for English
language teaching for migrants. Migrants who come to the UK must
be able to access good-quality, appropriate English language learning
that gives them the skills they need to live and work successfully.
We have committed significant resources across the UK to providing
this learning. Since 2001 we have invested over £1 billion
in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision. Over
1.8 million ESOL learning opportunities have been taken up over
this period and over 160,000 learners have achieved a first Skills
for Life ESOL qualification. Over the last 5 years both enrolments
and funding for ESOL provision have tripled. Last year alone we
offered over 483,000 ESOL enrolments with over £279 million
of funding. And since November 2005 the citizenship element of
English for Speakers of Other Languages, including the new ESOL
citizenship teacher and learner support materials, has helped
learners integrate successfully to life in the UK.
This is already a huge investment, and we know
there is always more to do, but our resources are not unlimited.
We recognise the increased demand for ESOL learning across England.
Officials in the Department for Education and Skills, together
with their counterparts at the Home Office, are looking at ways
to ensure that the language needs of priority groups for the strategy
are able to be met. This includes considering which learners are
best supported through Skills for Life funding and qualifications,
and which learners might better be supported in developing the
skills they need to live and work in the UK through an alternative
Demanding targets have been set to improve the
basic skills of adults in England, including language skills.
By 2010, we aim to have increased the literacy, language and numeracy
skills of 2.25 million people in England. We are on course to
meet these targets, and will be working with our partners to ensure
that the excellent progress to date is maintained. We also support
pupils learning English as an additional language in schools.
The Department for Education and Skills launched a strategy for
English as an Additional Language (EAL) in October 2003 as part
of its Aiming High strategy for raising achievement of minority
ethnic pupils. Key initiatives since 2003 include an extensive
EAL programme delivered through the Primary National Strategy
involving a package of professional development for mainstream
staff. Local authorities (LAs) were invited to join this initiative
as associates, 21 of which were targeted. Currently over 70 LAs
are participating. We have recently launched a Secondary National
Strategy for EAL which builds on this work in secondary schools.
The Department has funded two accredited training
courses for teachers in EAL: one is run by Birmingham University
with the Northern Association of Support Services for Equality
and Achievement, and the second is run by the Institute of Education
in partnership with Redbridge local authority. Two further accredited
training courses for teaching assistants have also been funded:
one run by Portsmouth and Hampshire local authorities with Portsmouth
University and the other run by Enfield local authority with Middlesex
Scottish Ministers have also recognised the
importance of adequate language provision. Between 2001-04, £5.4
million was directed via the Scottish Further Education Funding
Council to ESOL provision and other part-time non-advanced and
advanced courses for asylum seekers and refugees in FE colleges.
From the academic year 2004-05, this resource has been mainstreamed
into FE baseline funding.
Community based ESOL is often funded through
local authority Community Based Adult Learning (CBAL) budgets.
Best estimates of spend from the CBAL partnerships suggest that
a total of around £1.84 million is spent on ESOL provision
by the sector as a whole. In addition, adult literacy and numeracy
partnerships have received around £41 million between 2001-06
to develop adult literacy provision including ESOL. The Scottish
Executive is currently working towards the publication of an Adult
ESOL Strategy for Scotland. The Strategy aims to help in matching
supply with demand by enabling agencies and providers to work
together more effectively to meet learners' needs.
In Wales ESOL provision is provided as part
of the National Basic Skills Strategy for Wales. The Strategy
was launched in 2005, with a commitment of £40 million over
a three year period. In addition, a specific, focused National
Support Project for English as an Additional Language and ESOL
in Wales is currently being developed with a resource of £120,000
Finally, John Denham asked me about the proposed
establishment of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. Ruth
Kelly has announced that she has asked Darra Singh, Chief Executive
of Ealing Council, to chair the Commission on Integration and
Cohesion. The Commission will consider how local areas themselves
can play a role in forging cohesive and resilient communities
Examining the issues that raise tensions
between different groups in different areas, and that lead to
segregation and conflict;
Suggesting how local community and
political leadership can push further against perceived barriers
to cohesion and integration;
Looking at how local communities
themselves can be empowered to tackle extremist ideologies; and
Developing approaches that build
local areas' own capacity to prevent problems, and ensure they
have the structures in place to recover from periods of tension.
The Commission will undertake its work within
the context of existing Government policy, for example on managed
migration and preventing extremism. It will be grounded in an
understanding of current and future patterns of diversity, but
will focus on developing practical solutions for local communities
based on the best existing practice. It will also consider the
needs of communities defined by a shared characteristic (such
as race or faith), which may require regional or national solutions.
Although its recommendations for local areas will cover England
only, it will consider issues which affect Scotland and Wales,
and good practice from other countries. It will report to Ruth
Kelly by summer 2007.I am copying this to Phyllis Starkey, Mike
Gapes, Barry Sheerman and John Denham.
This report sets out the Government's activities
which specifically focus on addressing inequalities experienced
by Muslim communities, with particular references to employment
Evidence base of Muslim Inequalities
It is clear that the Muslim communities experience
below average outcomes in the key areas of education, employment,
health and housing.
Statistics within this report are drawn from
a variety of sources, including the 2001 census, and combine both
faith and ethnicity data. As data is not collected uniformly on
faith, data for Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities is often
used as a proxy in some circumstances.
Key inequalities are
at GCSE level although results are improving faster than the national
average; above average participation rate in higher education,
but concentrated in certain institutions and courses with lower
rates of course completion.
Employment: three times more
likely to be unemployed; approximately half are economically inactive
(52% compared to 33.5% national average).
Housing: a third of Muslims
live in overcrowded accommodation.
Health: higher than average
rates of smoking; increased risk of coronary heart disease and
increased risk of diabetes.
The most up-to-date figures for the areas of
inequality highlighted above indicate an upward trend in outcomes
for Muslim communities over the past couple of years:
% in employment
|Spring 2003 Bangladeshi|
|Spring 2004 Bangladeshi|
|Improvement of 4.8 percentage points Improvement of 0.9 percentage points No statistically significant change
||An improvement of 0.1 percentage points to 74.9% in spring 2004 for Great Britain
% achieving 5+
|Improvement of 6.9|
Improvement of 7.2 percentage points
|Improvement of 4.2 percentage points|
NOTE: Unless indicated Pakistani
/ Bangladeshi are used as proxies for `Muslim' as faith data is
What has been done to address these inequalities?
In 2004 the Government initiated the Muslim Engagement Action
Plan. The plan focuses on three thematic policy areas -
reduce the major aggravators of disaffection and
tackle the underlying inequalities experienced
by Muslim communities; and
build capacity within Muslim communities.
In 2005 the Government's strategy to increase race equality
and community cohesion, `Improving Opportunity, Strengthening
Society', was published. This first ever cross-departmental strategy
on race equality and community cohesion brought together practical
measures across Government to improve opportunities for all in
Britainhelping to ensure that a person's ethnicity or race
is not a barrier to their success. It aims to tackle inequalities
by giving greater emphasis to tailored initiatives that meet the
specific needs of particularly disadvantaged communities, rather
than treating all BME communities in the same way. This includes
a particular focus on Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities who
are disadvantaged across a range of areas, as the data shows.
Tackling inequalities in the labour market
Our ethnic minority employment policies do not focus specifically
on faith but on the groups with lower or no employment, qualifications
and skills: mainly, but not exclusively, those from the Bangladeshi,
Pakistani, African and Caribbean populations and those who are
living in the 272 local authority wards which have high rates
of unemployment and high numbers of ethnic minorities. The majority
of Muslims living in Britain are from Bangladeshi and Pakistani
groups and 45% of Muslims live in the 272 wards.
We have in place a number of mainstream and targeted initiatives
and programmes to help connect people from these communities to
work. These include:
New Deals: the New Deal for Young People
was the first employment programme to be pro-active in the promotion
of equality of opportunity and outcome of all ethnic minority
people, and adopt a strategy to identify and overcome the barriers
faced by young people from ethnic minority backgrounds. It also
encouraged more ethnic minority providers and businesses to participate
in the New Deal. The New Deals have helped more than 200,000 ethnic
minority people into work, of whom 38,000 are of Pakistani and
Bangladeshi origin. Employment [CR1]Zones and Action Teams for
Jobs have also been successful in helping ethnic minority people
get and keep jobs.
Jobcentre Plus Performance Targets: the
Jobcentre Plus target structure provides incentives to place into
work residents of 272 wards with the highest ethnic minority populations
coupled with high levels of unemployment. In 2004-05 Jobcentre
Plus exceeded its targets in identified high ethnic minority wards.
Targets for 2005-06 seek to increase further the proportion of
job entries from these areas.
Ethnic Minority Outreach: Ethnic Minority
Outreach (EMO) was introduced in April 2002 to deliver, primarily
through the voluntary and community sector (VCS), outreach services
to jobless people from ethnic minority groups who need help in
making the transition into work. EMO has been successful both
in terms of reaching those ethnic minorities who may make little
use of mainstream Jobcentre services, such as Indian and Pakistani
women and, more recently, in terms of job outcomes. One example
of this is an outreach programme undertaken by Jobcentre Plus
each Thursday at the London Muslim Centre. Since its introduction,
EMO has achieved over 9,000 successful job outcomes for its customers,
almost 3,000 of these in the last operational year. EMO ends in
September 2006 and will be replaced by individually targeted help
through the City Strategy (see below).
Fair Cities: Fair Cities Boards have been
established in Birmingham, Leeds/Bradford and London (Brent).
The boards work with local employers and stakeholders on city-wide
strategies to tackle ethnic minority worklessness. An evaluation
of the Fair Cities pilots is being developed. By March 2006, 38
people (32 from an ethnic minority) had been placed into jobs.
Work Search Premium: For some people, the
additional costs associated with looking for work may be a substantial
barrier to seeking work. To examine whether we need to give additional
incentives to people to participate in the labour market, we are
testing ways of helping families where one partner is in lower-paid
employment and the other is non-working. A Work Search Premium
of £20 a week payable for up to 26 weeks to the non-working
partners of people in receipt of Working Tax Credit is being developed.
The initiative started in October 2005, in six areas of high unemployment
and high volumes of people neither working nor claiming benefits.
Many children living in poverty are from single-income ethnic
minority households which this measure targets. A similar initiative,
announced in Pre-Budget Report 2005, will start in January 2007. This
will be bigger, targeted at a broader range of inactive clients
though it will not offer a premium[CR2].
Invest to Save Budget pilots: We are currently
sponsoring three pilots addressing ethnic minority employment
issues all run by VCS partnerships. The three are: a Christian
faith-based group, working with prisoners in London to get them
into work and avoid re-offending; a Muslim faith-based group helping
inactive Pakistani and Bangladeshi people in South & West
Yorkshire (including Bradford) into work and working with local
employers to tackle some of the myths that have grown up locally
on the difficulties involved in employing Muslims; and a group
of more than 20 VCS organisations working with a private employment
agency to tailor help to the needs of inactive people in five
London boroughs (three of them Olympic boroughs).
Future strategy and initiatives
The majority of the ethnic minority population live in the
five main conurbationsnearly half of them in London. Our
strategy targets these areas and aims to use both Government-focused
and individually focused approaches. These are informed by our
commitment to ensure that the needs of these communities are factored
into our policy development. The key components are:
Procurement: We are reviewing use of the
purchasing power of Government and its contractors, and the powers
vested under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2002, to contract
only with employers that have robust equality polices in place
and monitor the diversity of their workforces. Similar policies
in the USA have dramatically increased workforce diversity and
improved the quality of jobs available to ethnic minority applicants.
We are piloting this in a number of Departments with the aim of
extending it to all Government Departments. Using the funding
of Government suppliers and their sub-contractors will promote
change in recruitment patterns across a wide spectrum of industry
and the country, therefore benefiting all communities including
The City Strategy: announced in the 2006
Green Paper A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering people to work,
the City Strategy will bring together existing funds aimed at
addressing unemployment and disadvantage in our major cities.
It will give consortia of local representatives greater flexibility
to use designated funding, targeting their money and resources
in innovative and effective ways to deliver local employment based
targets. The first City pathfinders, in East & West London,
were announced on 4 April 2006. We have identified the most
disadvantaged areas through mapping the Cities with the most deprived
communitieswe know, for example, that in the Olympic boroughs
75% of women from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are inactive.
We are inviting Expressions of Interest from City Consortia which
will link into the Local Area Agreements. We are currently issuing
guidance to partnerships in mapping and identifying the most disadvantaged
groups in identified and selected disadvantaged cities. Many of
these areas have high concentrations of ethnic minority communities,
and in areas such as East London high concentrations of Muslims.
Combining funds, targets and audit requirements should reduce
the burden on local deliverers and allow them to develop local
solutions to address child poverty, unemployment and the associated
deprivation. We envisage that this initiative will be well placed
to carry forward the legacy of the Olympic Games post 2012.
Ethnic Minority Advisory Group (EMAG): a
new group is being established to advise the DWP on strategy,
policy, and initiatives. Membership has yet to be announced but
we are ensuring that there is a voice representing a community
cohesion focus. We are also considering setting up a sub-group
to deal with faith issues and women in particular.
The Olympics: The five Olympic boroughs all have
high ethnic minority populations (around 40% or 300,000 people)
with low employment rates (Tower Hamlets has an employment rate
of just 32% for its ethnic minority population). We are engaging
with the planning process in a number of ways to help ensure that
local people not only benefit from the immediate employment opportunities
that the Games will generatebut also in the long-term renaissance
of the East End and Thames Gateway. We are working with the London
Employment Skills Task Force (LEST) and the London Organising
Committee of the Olympics (LOCOG). We are also talking to faith-based
organisationsthe London Muslim Centre for exampleto
take a volunteering programme forward and help address any barriers
that faith communities may face.
Tackling inequalities in education
Our approach to tackling inequalities in education is to
centre our proposals around the backbone of the Government's wider
Skills Strategythe core aim of which is to give every young
person a firm foundation in the skills they need for their future.
At present, the picture for Black and minority ethnic groups is
a mixed one. For example, most minority ethnic groups have improved
their performance at GCSEand some ethnic groups continue
to outperform their peers significantly at school, while for others
the achievement gap remains wide.
Underachievement: underachievement in school-age
education is a key issue affecting future life chances for Muslim
young people. A national programme focused at raising the attainment
of Muslim pupils in secondary schools was rolled out in September
2004 and was doubled in size in June 2006. Targeted interventions
aimed at raising the attainment of mainly Muslim ethnic groups
have produced significant improvements. In 2000, 29% of Pakistani
and Bangladeshi pupils achieved 5 good GCSEs, compared with 49%
of all pupils. In 2005, 48% of Pakistani and 53% of Bangladeshi
pupils did so against a national average of 55%more than
halving the attainment gap for Pakistani pupils and almost closing
it for Bangladeshi young people.
7 July: We have published guidance for
schools on dealing with issues arising from 7 July 2006.
Islamaphobic bullying: We have published
guidance, materials and hosted national conferences supporting
schools to identify and tackle Islamophobic bullying. We have
also produced literature in community languages encouraging young
people and their families to report bullying.
Curriculum review: We have commissioned
a review of the curriculum examining how it can better reflect
the cultural and faith diversity of the country and promote an
inclusive sense of Britishness.
Youth services: We have commissioned the
National Youth Agency to consult Muslim young people on how youth
services could better meet their needs as part of the Youth Green
Future strategy and initiatives
Extremism: DfES, Home Office and the Joint Terrorism
Analysis Centre are working together to produce practical advice
for higher education institutions on tackling/deterring extremist
activity on campuses.
Religious Education: We have commissioned the Markfield
Institute of Higher Education to review the teaching of Islam
in higher education institutions. The review will examine whether
the teaching provides a sufficiently wide perspective of Islam.
DfES already assists existing independent Muslim
schools through the process of moving to the maintained sector.
We issue clear and simple written guidance to
help them through the process, guidance that was developed with
a user group on which Muslim schools were represented.
We provide a named contact to provide continuing
support to promoters of new schools and independent schools seeking
to join the maintained sector to help them develop their proposals
and overcome any potential barriers.
We provided AMS-UK with a grant of £100,000
last year to carry out an analysis of potential barriers to independent
Muslim schools' entry to the maintained sector and advise the
Department on how these might be overcome. We will also be inviting
AMS-UK to consider what support independent Muslim schools might
need to put together proposals to join the maintained sector.
Since 1997 seven voluntary aided Muslim schools
have been set up in the maintained sector, 4 primary 3 secondary.
Two were former grant-maintained schools and five came from the
independent sector. A further independent Muslim secondary school
has been approved to join the maintained sector in 2007.
All schools within the maintained sector must
meet certain conditions. These include operating fair admission
arrangements, providing equal opportunities to boys and girls
(unless they are single-sex schools), promoting good relations
between different racial groups and promoting community cohesion.
A fuller list of duties is set out in the attached Annex.
Muslim households are the most likely to experience overcrowding
and there are a number of initiatives underway to address this:
low-cost home ownership programmes that open up
the housing market to first-time buyers from Black and ethnic
choice-based lettings that offer more flexibility
about location and type of housing;
meeting the decent homes targets by 2010 will
help to improve living space and this will disproportionately
improve the situation for BME households as they are disproportionately
represented in the non-decent homes;
the work of the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit that
tackles housing issues, alongside other important factors that
affect or influence the potential for overcrowded households such
as poor job prospects; education, health and crime;
the Pathfinder Plan to improve and `open up' once
deprived neighbourhoods to housing opportunities.
proposals to facilitate the use of Sharia-compliant
loan finance by social tenants who wish to buy their homes under
Government low-cost home ownership schemes.
There are a number of initiatives underway that will address
health outcomes for Muslims:
The PCT-led Race for Health programme has placed
race equality at the core of primary care health services, tackling
issues such as diabetes, strokes, heart disease and cervical screening
within black and minority ethnic communities. The programme supports
a network of 13 PCTs around the country, working in partnership
with local black and minority ethnic communities.
Following the publication of a best practice toolkit
Heart Disease and South Asians in December 2004, in 2005 we co-sponsored
with the South Asian Health Foundation the production of `Prevention,
Treatment and Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Disease in South
Asians' with the support of the Chief Medical Officer.
The government's tobacco campaign specifically
targeted South Asian communities. It worked in partnership with
community organisations and Asian community radio and television
to highlight the dangers of tobacco smoking and chewing and encouraged
people to stop smoking. Leaflets, posters and information booklets
have also been produced to promote stopping smoking, supported
by an Asian tobacco helpline which provides counsellors who speak
Urdu, Hindu, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati. Anti-smoking campaigns
held during the time of Ramadan have also been successful.
It is clear that the quality of data on the health
needs and experiences of BME groups needs to be raised and the
Department of Health is committed to doing this. In July 2005
it revised the guidance on ethnicity monitoring of NHS patients
and social care users. The guidance, which includes a number of
best practice examples, applies to hospitals, where the collection
of ethnicity data is mandatory, to community health settings and
to social care settings. The new single electronic patient record
will also include ethnicity information; and performance on ethnic
monitoring has been built into the Quality Outcomes Framework
Following the HM Treasury funding seminar for
minority faith communities the Department of Health agreed to
consider the potential for promoting greater access to their Section
64 Scheme of Grants for minority ethnic and faith groups, including
Muslim communities. The Department of Health is now reviewing
the grants criteria and will run workshops in areas with high
Muslim populations that will promote the scheme amongst minority
Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund
Launched in September 2005 the fund supports capacity building
and inter-faith programmes which will support the development
of faith based organisations and increase participation of faith
communities in civil society. The first round has seen £7.75
million distributed across 588 organisations. A total of £1.5
million of this was to Muslim organisations.
A second round is due to launch shortly. £4.5 million
will be available for distribution.
Connecting Communities Plus
Connecting Communities Plus (CCP) is a new £6 million
a year grants programme over three years designed to support activity
to deliver the cross government strategy `Improving Opportunity,
Strengthening Society'. While not directly focused at faith groups
it will fund for example projects that aim to improve access and
outcomes for BME communities in education, employment, health,
housing and the Criminal Justice System. There are three levels
Strategic grants for national level organisations
working across the English regionsup to £150,000 per
annum for 3 years
Project grants for organisations based
in at least one of the English regionsbetween £12,000
and £100,000 per annum
Community grants for local groupsusually
up to £6,000 per organisation.