The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Integration welcomes the publication of the government’s Integrated Communities Action Plan, but stresses the need for continued political will and future funding to make its aims a reality.
The Action Plan, published by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), follows the launch of the Integrated Communities Strategy in March 2018, and outlines the work done by the government to bolster integration since then, and a timeline for actions to build on this progress.
Many of the aims included in the Action Plan resonate with the approach and recommendations made by the APPG in its Integration not Demonisation report, published in August 2017. For example, there is a strong focus on taking a localised approach to integration and empowering people to take action within their communities, as encouraged by the APPG. There is also the promise to launch a new strategy for English language by autumn 2019, and to encourage the involvement of more volunteers as well as local authorities, English language practitioners and academics – echoing the APPG’s calls for a joined-up approach which involves the whole sector.
The APPG also notes with interest the government actions which tie closely with issues being explored through our current inquiry into intergenerational connection. For instance, the link between social integration and the reduction of loneliness among people of different ages is highlighted, as is the increasing role of technology in building stronger connections between people across society. In this sense, it is pleasing to see social integration being considered in its broader sense – not only in relation to ethnicity and immigration.
While there is much here to be positive about, the APPG would encourage the government to think more about pathways to citizenship for new immigrants, both within its social integration work and immigration policy. In order to enable integration, this could include a set of ‘active citizenship criteria’ for those applying to become citizens, as suggested in Integration not Demonisation.
Responding to the publication of the Integrated Communities Action Plan, Chuka Umunna MP, Chair of the APPG on Social Integration, said:
“Brexit has exposed stark divides across many different social groups in our country, so the launch of the government’s Integrated Communities Action Plan is a step towards building a more connected and cohesive UK.
“It is pleasing to see the Action Plan building on some of our Integration not Demonisation report on the integration of immigrants, particularly in committing to the expansion of English language provision.
“To achieve its aims however, this Action Plan will need to be accompanied by the future funding necessary to support it and by sustained political will at both the national and local level. The APPG is a group of MPs of all parties who are determined that we have that sustained will. At this national moment of increased polarisation and fragmentation, integration has to be a priority.”