As a piece in the Guardian today demonstrates, the government's squeeze on welfare is proving astoundingly successful in 'nudging' the unemployed back into work. The UK's unemployment rate is half that in the rest of the EU, and our labour market is ever hungry for basic-skilled service workers. However, this overall success hides a shocking statistic - the work participation rate of Muslim women
Overall Female unemployment rate 5.1%
Asian Female unemployment rate 9.8%
Pakistani/Bangladesh F unemployment rate 24.0%*
That Muslim women have an unemployment rate five times that of white women is unacceptable. The impact on their health, welfare, attainment and particularly the educational level of their children, family nutrition and health and participation in wider British society is substantial. Imprisoned in their own homes and unable to interact openly with men and women of all races and ages in our open society, their mental health is also severely endangered.
Politicians of all parties must now do all they can to get these Muslim women out of the prisons of their homes and into the tens of thousands of service job vacancies - local drop delivery drivers, supermarket cashiers and shelf stackers, school dinner ladies, fast food catering counter staff, cleaning, catering and hospitality work. With the new living wage and the IDS welfare reforms such a drive will only do them good - however reluctant they may be to leave their prisons.
We MUST get tens of thousands of Muslim women into productive work.
* Labour market stats from (1) House of Commons briefing paper 6385, 2016 (2)ONS Labour market status of females in GB by ethnic group