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Money from dormant bank accounts to be used to tackle racial inequality

Ethnicity should not affect anyone’s ability to get on in life, Theresa May said.

Around £90 million from dormant bank accounts will be used to tackle high rates of unemployment among young people from ethnic minorities, Theresa May has announced.

Youth joblessness blights communities and too much talent and potential is being wasted, the Prime Minister said.

It comes after the premier warned public services they must “explain or change” significant differences in the way people of different ethnicities are treated after publishing the findings of a racial disparity audit in October.

Mrs May met young people during a visit to the Birmingham branch of UK youth unemployment charity Street League on Monday.

She said: “When I became Prime Minister I commissioned the race disparity audit precisely to ask the question ‘What is happening across the country?’

“Some of the results were uncomfortable reading but they cited injustices that we need to address.

“That’s why today we are launching a new programme recognising that young people from other ethnic groups are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white peers.

“So £90 million into a programme which will be helping to overcome the barriers for those young people getting into employment.”

Ahead of the visit she had described youth unemployment as something which “blights communities and wastes talent and potential”.

She added: “Evidence from the race disparity audit clearly shows that while the educational attainment gap between people of different backgrounds has narrowed over time, this has not been reflected in getting jobs.

“Talent, ability and hard work should be the only factors affecting a young person’s ability to get on in life – not their background or ethnicity.”

  • Young people from ethnic minorities between the ages of 16 and 24 are almost twice as likely to be unemployed (23%) as their white peers (12%)

The research showed 16 to 24 year olds from ethnic minority groups are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white peers.

The findings of the audit were laid bare on an Ethnicity Facts and Figures website.

It found that while state-educated white Britons had the lowest rate for going to university, they were also less likely to be unemployed than ethnic minorities and were more likely to own their own home.

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Prime Minister Theresa May at the Street League at People Plus employment charity in Birmingham (Leon Neal/PA)

The research also found 23% of 16 to 24 year olds from ethnic minority groups were unemployed compared to 12% of white young people despite having similar qualifications.

Under the new programme, designed by the Big Lottery Fund and the Government, young people will work with teachers and community organisations who will look at ways their skills can be used.

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Young people who are facing multiple barriers to employment are the best-placed to tell us what needs to change for them.

“They will be at the heart of the process to shape solutions and create a dormant accounts youth programme that works for them by working with employers, educators, youth and community organisations.”

A race disparity audit advisory group, chaired by Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, is being set up to improve the way departments respond to the findings of the research.

Mr Woolley said: “This intervention is driven by the Prime Minister’s leadership with support from NGOs.

“Our role is to find out where and how we can make the biggest impact on a range of issues including youth unemployment and the ethnic disparities within it.”

Matthew Ryder, the deputy mayor for social integration in London, welcomed the financial boost.

He added: “We hope it will provide some much-needed new resources for those working with young BAME (black and minority ethnic) Londoners, who have seen dramatic cuts in their funding in recent years.”

Mrs May braved the wintry temperatures to watch a number of young people play football, after chatting with current participants as well as alumni at the organisation’s Aston location in the West Midlands. 

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