The document sets out the DCLG’s strategy for fostering integration in the UK. There aren’t any huge shifts or surprises or changes in direction here, though there is a continuing, and a more rapid move towards shifting the responsibility for integration away from the state, on to individuals themselves.
The publication starts by noting the UK’s history of immigration together with more recent initiatives such as the Equality Act 2010 which have been designed to promote integration. It notes that the increasing volume and scale of immigration to the UK has brought its own challenges.
5 key factors
Like so many other documents on integration, the strategy never really goes on to define exactly what it means by integration, nor does it really explore peoples thoughts on the subject. It notes for example that around 22% of people think that race relations/immigration is an important issue but says little else on the subject, and nothing for example about the MORI poles which show that whilst a fairly large percentage of the population admittedly sees immigration as a big national problem, considerably less than a quarter- only 18% do so locally.
In any event the Strategy proceeds to indentify five key factors that would contribute integration. These are identified as:
- Common ground – shared aspirations and values
- Responsibility – sense of mutual commitment and obligation
- Social mobility –
- Participation and empowerment- the ability to take part, be heard and take decisions in local and national life
- Tackling extremism – robust response to threats whether discrimination, extremism or disorder that deepen division and increase tension
The strategy amongst other thing comes up with ‘Big lunches’ and ‘Community Music days’ by way of proposals for enhanced integration.
There’s little direct reference to immigration policy in the strategy document given of course its focus is local. It simply notes Government action designed to create the conditions for integration through mainstream policies and lists the integration of language requirements into the Immigration Rules in this respect. It also notes that DCLG is considering looking at the settlement and citizenship process and the ‘Life in the UK Test’ with a view to how the settlement and citizenship process can better promote an understanding of the ‘values and principles that underlie British society’. There’s also some fleeting reference to ‘additional funding’ to support English language provision for those adults who are not in employment or actively seeking employment, and are unable to afford fees.
The strategy does ask for ‘further ideas’ for action ‘to increase common ground’ which readers may wish to respond to, but all in all, given that this was 18 months in the making, one might have expected a slightly more considered and, well, substantial contribution to the area…