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800,000 people in Britain know little or no English

Nearly 800,000 people in Britain know little or no English with more than half not working, according to a study of the 2011 census. The study pointed out that those who do work are condemned to the lowest paid and most laborious jobs if they do not have a working command of English.

world Updated: Jan 30, 2014 18:52 IST

Nearly 800,000 people in Britain know little or no English with more than half not working, according to a study of the 2011 census.

Migrants who know little or no English are 50% more likely to be unemployed than native speakers and three times as likely to have no formal qualifications, the new analysis of findings from the census showed.

Ann Cryer, the former Labour MP for Keighley, who was one of the first politicians to raise the issue of migrants failing to learn English, said there was a particular problem among the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in her former constituency with women being brought to Britain as wives and denied the chance to integrate.

"English is the key to everything," she was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

Almost 800,000 people living in England and Wales know little or no English, with more than half not working, the daily cited official figures as showing.

The study pointed out that those who do work are condemned to the lowest paid and most laborious jobs if they do not have a working command of English.

Significantly the problem is most acute among women. Overall 60% of those living in England and Wales but unable to speak the national tongue are female.

The census found that there are 3.7 million people living in England and Wales for whom English, or Welsh in Wales, is not their main language.

The vast majority of them do speak the national language well but the census found that there are 785,000 who admit speaking English either poorly or not at all.

They amount to just 1.7% of the population but a much larger proportion of the non-working population, analysts at the Office for National Statistics found.

While 72% of working-aged people whose main language is English had a job on census day in 2011, just 48% of those who struggle to speak English had a job.

The rest are not working, the vast majority of them economically inactive.

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