The figures suggest that the Coaltion has had a negative influence on BAME unemployment. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty
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Black and minority ethnic youth unemployment "rose by 50% under the coalition"

New statistics suggest that over 40,000 black, Asian and ethnic minority people aged 18 to 24 have been unemployed for more than 12 months.

The number of young people from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds in long-term unemployment has increased by 50% since 2010, according to Labour. 

The number of BAME 16 to 24-year-olds out of work for more than 12 months has increased to 41,000 - accounting for one-fifth of youth unemployment - according to an analysis of official figures by the House of Commons Library and the Office for National Statistics.

The significance of this rise is thrown in to sharp relief when compared to the trends for young white people. There was a 2% fall in long-term unemployment among young white people, resulting in an overall fall in long-term youth unemployment of 1%.

Labour attributed the rise to the Coalition's "shocking complacency".

“These figures are astonishing,” said the shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan. “At a time where general unemployment is going down and employment is going up, it is doing the reverse for this group… we have got a generation that is being thrown on the scrapheap, and what compounds it is that a disproportionate number are black, Asian, minority ethnic.”

Jonathan Portes, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, told the NS: "High levels of unemployment in this group are a long-standing problem and a serious one, but, as the sample size for this group is small, it's difficult to conclude from this data that things are necessarily getting worse."

Labour used the statistics to highlight their "approach to race quality", drawing attention to their BAME manifesto and Jobs Guarantee. The party states: "Labour’s pledge to guarantee every young person out of work for over a year and claiming benefits a paid starter job and training will help more than 3,200 BAME young people back into work."

Portes emphasised that Labour's proposed policy may not be enough to tackle the issue, adding, "Labour's Jobs Guarantee clearly doesn't address the scale of the problem - 3,200 young people is a very small proportion of the total."

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's editorial assistant. She tweets at @annaleszkie.

Photo: Getty Images
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There are risks as well as opportunities ahead for George Osborne

The Chancellor is in a tight spot, but expect his political wiles to be on full display, says Spencer Thompson.

The most significant fiscal event of this parliament will take place in late November, when the Chancellor presents the spending review setting out his plans for funding government departments over the next four years. This week, across Whitehall and up and down the country, ministers, lobbyists, advocacy groups and town halls are busily finalising their pitches ahead of Friday’s deadline for submissions to the review

It is difficult to overstate the challenge faced by the Chancellor. Under his current spending forecast and planned protections for the NHS, schools, defence and international aid spending, other areas of government will need to be cut by 16.4 per cent in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20. Focusing on services spending outside of protected areas, the cumulative cut will reach 26.5 per cent. Despite this, the Chancellor nonetheless has significant room for manoeuvre.

Firstly, under plans unveiled at the budget, the government intends to expand capital investment significantly in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. Over the last parliament capital spending was cut by around a quarter, but between now and 2019-20 it will grow by almost 20 per cent. How this growth in spending should be distributed across departments and between investment projects should be at the heart of the spending review.

In a paper published on Monday, we highlighted three urgent priorities for any additional capital spending: re-balancing transport investment away from London and the greater South East towards the North of England, a £2bn per year boost in public spending on housebuilding, and £1bn of extra investment per year in energy efficiency improvements for fuel-poor households.

Secondly, despite the tough fiscal environment, the Chancellor has the scope to fund a range of areas of policy in dire need of extra resources. These include social care, where rising costs at a time of falling resources are set to generate a severe funding squeeze for local government, 16-19 education, where many 6th-form and FE colleges are at risk of great financial difficulty, and funding a guaranteed paid job for young people in long-term unemployment. Our paper suggests a range of options for how to put these and other areas of policy on a sustainable funding footing.

There is a political angle to this as well. The Conservatives are keen to be seen as a party representing all working people, as shown by the "blue-collar Conservatism" agenda. In addition, the spending review offers the Conservative party the opportunity to return to ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ as a going concern.  If they are truly serious about being seen in this light, this should be reflected in a social investment agenda pursued through the spending review that promotes employment and secures a future for public services outside the NHS and schools.

This will come at a cost, however. In our paper, we show how the Chancellor could fund our package of proposed policies without increasing the pain on other areas of government, while remaining consistent with the government’s fiscal rules that require him to reach a surplus on overall government borrowing by 2019-20. We do not agree that the Government needs to reach a surplus in that year. But given this target wont be scrapped ahead of the spending review, we suggest that he should target a slightly lower surplus in 2019/20 of £7bn, with the deficit the year before being £2bn higher. In addition, we propose several revenue-raising measures in line with recent government tax policy that together would unlock an additional £5bn of resource for government departments.

Make no mistake, this will be a tough settlement for government departments and for public services. But the Chancellor does have a range of options open as he plans the upcoming spending review. Expect his reputation as a highly political Chancellor to be on full display.

Spencer Thompson is economic analyst at IPPR