Jobs and skills

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I welcome the progress that has been made in closing the gender pay gap and increasing the representation of women on company boards, but what are the Government doing to support low-paid, low-skilled women, who often seem to be left out of the conversation?

 

Victoria Atkins (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women)

 Chris Stephens 

(Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 

This is my first statutory instrument debate in the Chamber, and it is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is also a pleasure to follow Gillian Keegan.

The shadow Minister refers to small increases in the minimum wage. An increase of 38p in the national minimum wage is now being introduced. Can she tell the House in how many of the 10 years after the introduction of the national minimum wage the Labour Government made a bigger increase than the 38p that workers will see under this increase?

 

Chi Onwurah (Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy))

 

Surely the hon. Lady acknowledges the Low Pay Commission’s conclusion:

“In light of this evidence we concluded when thinking about the pay floor for this age group, that it could not currently be set to the same level as the national living wage without risks to employment.”

 

Alison Thewliss

(Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government))

What are the Government doing to support women in their communities who are isolated as a result of poor English language skills?

 

Anne Milton (Minister of State (Education))

I have commented on the English language courses we are running, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government also has a big programme. Integration is uppermost in our minds at the moment, and the first step towards integrating people and helping them to gain confidence is for them to have good English language skills.

How do the Government intend to ensure that these regulations can keep up with technological advancements and developments within these markets so that the legislation and regulations this place passes are not obsolete by the time they come into force?

 

Margot James (The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s quite legitimate concerns, but perhaps I can offer a little reassurance following the roll-out that has already happened in Dudley. Many claimants and the jobcentre—particularly in Stourbridge—are seeing that universal credit gives extra flexibility to help cases that simply would not have received the help and appropriate support they needed under the old system. More people—precisely the kind of difficult cases that he refers to—are getting into work and staying in work.

 

Given my hon. Friend’s personal interest in this matter, will he join me in supporting the Government’s “Share the joy” campaign to encourage greater take-up of shared parental leave?

 

Andrew Griffiths (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy))

What sanctions are available if companies fail to meet their legal obligations to help to close the gender pay gap?

 

Amber Rudd 

(The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities)

What is the law is that gender pay gap reporting takes place. The EHRC has the ability to take measures that can end up with fines and further sanctions. In terms of proposals for companies to actually close the gap themselves, we encourage them to put forward their own plans.

Over the past two and a half years I have met many constituents who have been directly affected by the various changes to the state pension age. Listening to them, it is impossible not to feel every sympathy, given the circumstances in which many find themselves. If I suddenly found out that I would not be able to retire at the age I had expected, I am not sure that I could say how I felt—actually, I probably could, but I fear my language would not be parliamentary.

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