Integrated Communities Strategy

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Integration has today welcomed the publication of the Government’s new Integrated Communities Strategy – but warned it is vital for integration to be seen as a two way street in the way the strategy is implemented.
 
The Green Paper outlines five areas where the Government wants to focus on improving integration in the United Kingdom – Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest – and lays out a series of measures for consultation.
 
They include an Integration Innovation Fund to promote programmes that foster social mixing, plans to work with schools on admission reform, and ways to encourage more volunteers into English language learning programmes – which was a key recommendation in Integration not Demonisation, the final report from the APPGs inquiry into the integration of immigrants.
 
Responding to the publication of the Integrated Communities Strategy, Chuka Umunna MP, Chair of the APPG on Social Integration, said: 
 
“We are facing a national crisis when it comes to integration. While we may be a more diverse society than ever before where people from different backgrounds live side-by-side, they aren’t actually mixing as much with one another.
 
“We’ve always said it’s dangerous to conflate immigration and integration issues with counterterrorism, so I welcome the fact that the Government’s tone appears to have changed on this, but we need to see the detail of the report. It is vital that there is a recognition that integration is a two-way street, rather than simply the responsibility of minority communities, in the way the strategy is implemented.
 
“However, we don’t yet have details about how this will be funded and, without solid financial commitment, this strategy could fall at the first hurdle. Between 2008 and 2015, funding for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) fell by 50 per cent. We are dealing with a national problem that demands national policy, and more work and funding is needed if we are to see real benefits. Action must be locally-led, but it’s disappointing that this strategy only focuses on five areas. That doesn’t go far enough, and we want to see a further roll-out in the coming years.”
 
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration will be responding to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation, which lasts 12 weeks.


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Intergenerational connection

Today the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Integration launches its inquiry into intergenerational connection. To mark the launch, the group is publishing a collection of essays, Ages Apart? Ties and Divides Across the Generations. The collection includes contributions from pollsters, policy thinkers and practitioners – capturing  the views and insights of experts on various dimensions of intergenerational relations. The collection also includes a foreword by chair of the APPG, Chuka Umunna MP.

Through this inquiry, the group is aiming to explore: the degree to which people of different generations in the UK share the same social and political values and understand one another's views and perspectives; the extent to which people of different age groups engage meaningfully with one another in their neighbourhoods and social lives; and how this affects our political debate as well as levels of trust within our communities.

The full list of contributors is as follows.

  • Bobby Duffy, Global Director, Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute
  • Emma Jenkins, Head of HeadStart, The Challenge
  • Caroline Macfarland, Director, Common Vision (CoVi)
  • Paul McGarry, Head, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub
  • David Robinson OBE, Founder of Community Links & Practitioner in Residence, LSE Marshall Institute
  • Ralph Scott, Research Manager, The Challenge
  • Alex Smith, CEO and founder, North London Cares, South London Cares and Manchester Cares
  • David Williams, CEO, St Monica Trust & Maia Beresford, Policy & Communications Manager, Associated Retirement Community Operators

You can read the essay collection here.


Integration Not Demonisation

A new report from The All Parliamentary Group on Social Integration chaired by Chuka Umunna MP argues that the toxic immigration debate is hindering integration and calls for urgent action to build a more cohesive society.

The report concludes the cross party group’s inquiry into the integration of immigrants, and follows the interim report in January which called for a regionally-led immigration system and compulsory English classes for immigrants who can’t speak the language. The report features extensive analysis from integration experts and evidence from visits to communities in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Dagenham in London which show that immigrants are increasingly leading parallel lives to other communities. It reveals that anti-immigrant rhetoric and xenophobia are making it harder for immigrants to become full members of British society. The report cites that 62% of second generation migrants feel that Britain has become less tolerant since the Brexit vote.

The cross party group of MPs and peers call on the Government to reform urgently and comprehensively the immigration system following the Brexit vote to support the economic, civic and social integration of immigrants. It calls on Ministers to bring forward plans to introduce an ‘Integration Impact Fund’ to pay for integration initiatives in immigration hotspots. These initiatives would be designed to promote community cohesion and build trust between newcomers and existing communities.

The Group renews its call for compulsory English classes and argues that fluency in English should be viewed as the right of every citizen – and must be extended to everyone in our society regardless of their country of origin or gender. It recognises that language can be the greatest barrier to accessing all levels of society, including the job market and contact with local community groups, citing that as many as 800,000 immigrants have poor or no proficiency of English language. To support this recommendation the Group argues in this final report for the introduction of a student style loan system to help immigrants afford English classes - to be re-paid once a salary threshold has been attained.

The Group also renews its call to hand power to the UK’s nations and regions to propose their own immigration criteria to meet local and economic needs.  In turn, local authorities should have a statutory duty to promote integration but they must be given the resources and funds to respond to local challenges. The Group now argues that local leaders should be empowered to propose time-limited region specific visas and quotas for the numbers of newcomers who would be able to immigrate to their area to work within specific economic sectors. Under such a system, immigrants would be expected to stay in a particular region for a minimum period of two-to-three years before gaining the right to live anywhere in UK. The MPs and peers argue that this reform would instill greater confidence that the system works for every community.

The report says Ministers should look at the impact of a regionally-led immigration policy post-Brexit, and ensure that EU migrants are included in the new system depending on the outcomes of the negotiations.

Finally, the Group argues that a greater focus on integration should be built into the process of settling into the UK, recommending that newcomers who are applying to be British citizens be required to contribute to their communities through undertaking voluntary or community work.

Chuka Umunna MP, chair of the APPG on Social Integration, said:

“The demonisation of immigrants, exacerbated by the poisonous tone of the debate during the EU referendum campaign and after, shames us all and is a huge obstacle to creating a socially integrated nation. We must act now to safeguard our diverse communities from the peddlers of hatred and division while addressing valid concerns about the impact of immigration on public services, some of which can contribute to local tensions.

“We must start by valuing the contribution of all ethnic and minority communities to the UK. Rather than being seen as security risks, immigrants should be viewed as Britons-in-waiting, keen to participate in their community. The best way to do this isn’t to leave newcomers and their communities to sink or swim, but to offer migrants more support to integrate into our society.

“This report calls on the Government to overcome any and all barriers to integration – by teaching English to all, by better redistributing migrant numbers and by empowering local leaders to promote integration – so we can ensure the UK continues to be an open and global facing nation.”

Oliver Lee, CEO of The Challenge, the APPG’s Secretariat, said:

“Whether we are newcomers to this country or have been here for generations, we need to meet, mix and connect with one another. This is how we forge stronger and more cohesive communities. This report’s recommendations have social integration at their heart and this is absolutely right. ”

You can read the report here.


Research interviews

The Challenge, who provides the Secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Integration, has finished conducting research interviews for the APPG’s inquiry into integration and immigration.

Over the past two months The Challenge has been talking to relevant experts to gain a better understanding of the existing English provision landscape in the UK and explore opportunities for reforming the immigration system.

The APPG would like express gratitude to all those who took the time to speak to The Challenge:

  1. Braddell, Alex; Director; Oxfordshire Skills Escalator Centre CIC Ltd

  2. Brooks, Thom, Prof; Head of School;  Durham Law School

  3. Crawford, David, Dr; Senior Partner; Fragomen LLP, Canada

  4. Jedwab, Jack, Dr; President of the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) and the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration

  5. Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes, Prof; Learning Technology and Communication; The Open University

  6. Mallows, David; Lecturer in TESOL; UCL Institute of Education

  7. Simpson, James, Dr; Senior Lecturer (Language Education); University of Leeds

  8. Speake, Nicola; Head of Projects; Good Things Foundation

  9. Stevenson, Alex; Head of English, Maths and ESOL; Learning and Work Institute

  10. Walker,Helen; Chief Executive; and Forster, Andy; Programme Manager; TimeBank

These interviews will inform Stage Two of the APPG’s inquiry into integration and immigration, which is due to publish its final report in the summer.

You can read the interview notes here.


Submissions to the Call for Evidence

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Integration has received an excellent range of submissions from a wide range of stakeholders to its Call for Evidence which closed on 13 March 2017.

Commenting on the submissions, the APPG Chair, Chuka Umunna MP, said: “We are very pleased to see so many organisations and individuals taking an interest in integration and in our ongoing inquiry. I hope that our final report in July will be able to draw together all the valuable evidence we have received to make some strong recommendations.”

The APPG would like to express gratitude to all those who took the time to respond:

  1. Action for ESOL
  2. Allan Alasdair MSP, Minister for International Development and Europe
  3. BMENational & Human City Institute
  4. Borders College
  5. Bright Blue
  6. Centre for Social Investigation, Nuffield College, Oxford
  7. City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
  8. Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  9. East London Advanced Technology Training (ELATT)
  10. Education Scotland
  11. English for Action (EFA London)
  12. FaithAction
  13. Good Things Foundation
  14. Growth, Equal Opportunities, Migration and Markets (GEMM) Project
  15. Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
  16. Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex
  17. Judy Kirsh
  18. Victor Kok CPA CGA
  19. London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  20. Arthur McKeown
  21. Migration Yorkshire
  22. Mums and Families (MAF)
  23. National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults (NATECLA)
  24. Refugee Action
  25. Ruth Hayman Trust
  26. Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
  27. Social Support and Migration in Scotland Project (University of Glasgow/Swansea University)
  28. Katherine Swinney
  29. Jess Tomlinson & Ben Menadue
  30. United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR)
  31. Wonder Foundation

These submissions will inform Stage Two of the APPG’s inquiry into integration and immigration, which is due to publish its final report in the summer.

You can read the submissions in full here.