In the introduction to the Government’s integrated communities green paper, the Prime Minister, Theresa May highlights Britain as “one of the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith societies” but points out its challenges, not least the need to tackle the “inequalities and injustices that hold people back” and the need to “confront the segregation that can divide communities”.
The strategy differentiates between integration and assimilation, saying that the government wants “everyone to feel confident and proud of their identity and heritage … while recognising and valuing their relationship with, and responsibility to, other groups and to our wider society”. It goes on to define a vision of “true integration” as “communities where people, whatever their background, live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities”.
The green paper sets out in its strategy a range of proposals and approaches intended to tackle the root causes of where integration is lacking, these include the “lack of social mixing in some of our neighbourhoods and schools, unemployment and poor English language skills”.
The document’s chapters cover themes such as strengthening leadership; supporting new migrants and resident communities; education and young people; boosting English language; places and community; increasing economic opportunity; rights and freedoms; and measuring success. Responses to the proposals and approaches outlined in these chapters should be submitted by 5th June.
In launching the consultation, the press release highlighted measures to boost English language skills, including a new community based language programme and support for councils to improve English language tuition for those who need it most. Among the other measures that were highlighted were those intended to increase economic opportunity, particularly for women. This includes trialing new approaches “to support people from some of the most isolated communities” into work. For young people, measures were outlined aimed at ensuring every child receives an education that prepares them for life in modern Britain, including the “promotion of British Values across the curriculum” and an increased take-up of the national citizens service.
At the same time, the Government committed £50 million to support the strategy and announced five “integration areas” to develop local integration plans. Walsall is among the five areas chosen. Secretary of State, Sajid Javid said that these areas have “already demonstrated a keen grasp of the challenges they face and shown desire to try new things and learn from them”. It is intended that the lessons of what works and doesn’t work will be shared with other council areas as the programme progresses.
Full details of the consultation can be found here.
The press release can be found here.