Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Andrew Stunell convened a roundtable meeting for members of the Chinese community on 1 November, providing an opportunity to explore their issues of concern. These included the tightening of the immigration regulations and its impact on the catering industry, the cost of higher education and the lack of housing support for Chinese elderly.
Speaking at the end of a day of discussions, Mr Stunell outlined the Government's commitments to equality of opportunity, tackling intolerance in all forms and to creating a stronger, better integrated society. He said: "The Chinese community here is the largest in Europe and contributes massively to the social, economic and cultural richness of Britain…Today has been a valuable opportunity to hear some the concerns of the community and to explore ways in which they can be tackled and resolved."
Merlene Emerson, Chair of Chinese Lib Dems and a trustee of the charity, Chinese Welfare Trust commented: "I was shocked when confronted by the hard statistics presented by the Deputy Director Henry Tam that there is a pay penalty of 35% for Chinese women and 11% for Chinese men in the UK. We still have a long way to go to achieving parity and recognition."
"I did however come away from the day long conference assured that we were heard, that the consultation was genuine and not a mere tick box exercise by a governmental department. We will however need to ensure the many concerns raised by the community will be translated into changes in policy and our proposed solutions turned into real outcomes. This should be a continuing dialogue and hopefully the first of many round table discussions to come".