Employment gap between white and BME staff is closing

The employment gap between white and black and ethnic minority (BME) workers is closing steadily, according to a report by the TUC.

The TUC report said the employment gap had narrowed by 2.2% over the past 10 years and now stands at 15.7%.

This comes despite recent criticism of government efforts to close the gap, with accusations that some specialist schemes were wound-up too soon.

The fastest area of growth in BME employment has been part-time work, with the number doing this more than doubling in 10 years. However, just 60.1% of BME people are in work, compared to 75.8% in the wider population.

The report says that BME employment growth has helped to reduce the number of BME people living in poverty by 11% in the past decade. However, in spite of this progress, nearly half of BME children are living in poverty and are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as white children.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The steady reduction in BME poverty rates proves that full employment is a vital cure for poverty. But with nearly half of BME children still living in poverty, these welcome trends cannot be taken for granted.”

Giving evidence to Public Accounts select committee last month, Leigh Lewis, permanent secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, denied the government had been “flip-flopping” between schemes aimed at boosting BME employment.

A National Audit Office report had criticised the DWP’s efforts in closing the gap amid reports that pilot schemes were being ditched despite having some positive results.

Lewis said: “The gap is still far too large and it is a blight on our society, but I do not accept the flip-flopping point. What I do absolutely accept and share with you is that there is a real determination [to close it].”

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