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Muslim employment inequality across UK must be tackled, MPs argue

'More must be done' to tackle unemployment rates among Muslims Credit: PA

ITV News reporter Nina Nannar:

Muslims face the highest unemployment levels of all religious and ethnic groups in the UK and more must be done to tackle this inequality, MPs have said.

While the average unemployment figure for the country is 5.4%, the figure rises to 12.8% among Muslims, a new report by the Women and Equalities Committee has found.

The report calls on ministers to introduce a cross-Government strategy by the end of the year which is focused on helping specific groups, including Muslims, to run alongside a commitment to tackle disadvantages faced by black and minority ethnic (BME) people.

The report further argues that the Government must directly address discrimination in the workplace and do more to support people into work.

Also highlighted is the need for the Government to work to rebuild trust with Muslim communities after concerns were raised during the committee's inquiry about integration programmes being linked to counter-extremism.

The report recommends that these trust-building programmes should not be conducted through the lens of counter-extremism, but should instead focus on how they can improve the life-chances of those taking part.

The challenges that the Government faces in tackling extremism cannot be under estimated but in the course of this inquiry we came across individual Muslims who were reluctant to speak to us for fear that our inquiry was part of the Prevent programme.

The Prevent strategy was cited as a significant source of tension by a number of participants.

– Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee
Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee Credit: PA

The report also places an emphasis on the employment discrimination faced by some Muslim women.

We heard evidence that stereotypical views of Muslim women can act as a barrier to work.

The data suggests that in communities these patterns are shifting across generations but we remain concerned that this shift is happening too slowly and that not all Muslimwomen are being treated equally.

– Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee

The report calls on the Government to introduce a role models and mentoring programme specifically aimed at Muslim women to increase equality and to help them realise their potential.

Other recommendations include calling for increased awareness among employers of what constitutes illegal discrimination, urging universities to introduce a dedicated careers advice service for BME students to include the use of role models and mentors, and that Jobcentre Plus staff must be trained to understand the issues faced by Muslim people.

It continues that in areas where there are high levels of Muslim unemployment there should be tailored support schemes put in place and employers should pay close attention to the impact of discrimination and the fear of discrimination in the workplace for Muslim women who wear cultural or religious dress.