UK: Immigrants who struggle to speak English will lose benefits under Tory plans

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed May 28 13:25:45 UTC 2008

Immigrants who struggle to speak English will lose benefits under Tory plans
By Rosa Prince
Last updated: 11:49 PM BST 26/05/2008

Immigrant workers and foreign-born citizens who struggle to speak
English will be denied benefits unless they accept language lessons,
under plans unveiled by the Conservatives. In a hard-hitting speech,
Chris Grayling, the shadow work and pensions secretary, plans to set
out the party's detailed proposals for tackling unemployment. He will
argue that the employment rate for some ethnic minority groups is
below the national average, saying that "serious steps" need to be
taken to address the problem. Speaking English will be an "essential"
requirement, with job centres and voluntary groups offering language
lessons to those whose prospects are hampered by an inability to

In his speech "Welfare: The Next Steps", Mr Grayling will tell the
Centre for Policy Studies: "The Government's own research has shown
that the employment rate for some ethnic minorities is far below the
national average, citing language barriers as one of the factors.'' Mr
Grayling will also outline his concern that immigrant labour is being
used to prop up the economy, for example at the site of the 2012
Olympic site in east London, at the expense of rising unemployment
among deprived local communities.

He will say: "For the people that have not shared in the growth of the
last 15 years, poverty and deprivation remain endemic. I've met some
of those people, trapped in a cycle of worklessness.

"They are often personable and likeable. But they are also a mile away
from the job market – lacking experience, self-confidence, the basic
know-how about how to get and hold down a job.

"But they have the potential to get there. In the past 10 years, far
too little has been done to help them break out of a cycle of
underachievement. It is not that the work hasn't been there.

"Why on Earth are we paying out vast amounts of money to keep people
out of work, when jobs are there and being filled by people from
overseas? Why has the Government stood idly by while such an absurd
situation develops?''

Mr Grayling will also say that a Conservative government would make it
compulsory for all prisoners leaving custody to receive help to find a
job if they do not already have one.

"Re-offending is one of the big challenges we face in our criminal
justice system. Getting offenders back into work quickly is one
important part of dealing with the challenge,'' he will say.

They have already said that under a Tory government jobless youths
will face employment "boot camps" after three months out of work.

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