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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Notes to editors:
- The APPG on Social Integration brings together politicians from across the political spectrum with an interest in integration. It exists to find policy solutions to break down barriers to integration and create opportunities for people from all walks of life to build bonds of trust. For more information visit’www.socialintegrationappg.org.uk.
- Chuka Umunna is the Member of Parliament for Streatham and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration. He was first elected in 2010.
- The APPG’s Secretariat, The Challenge, is the UK’s leading social integration charity. For more information about The Challenge visit’www.the-challenge.org.
- Today’s news comes 15 months after Dame Louise Casey submitted her Review of Integration and Opportunity to Downing Street. Last summer (2017), the Social Integration APPG proposed that the Government should establish an Integration Policy Unit based within the Cabinet Office and introduce a statutory duty on all local authorities to promote the integration of immigrants. These suggestions were also made by Dame Louise in her initial draft report of 2016.
- The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration’s report ‘Integration Not Demonisation’, the final report of its inquiry into the integration of immigrants, is available’here.