Dame Louise Casey has today (5 December 2016) published her report into social integration in Great Britain, calling for more to be done to bridge divides between people and bind communities together.
Her review finds that with the country experiencing rapid population change there are still large social and economic gaps between ethnic groups; that ethnic segregation is increasing in some areas; and that women in some communities are suffering from huge inequalities.
Following a year-long review into integration and opportunity in isolated communities, the social policy expert calls for a major new government programme to help:
- empower all communities to take advantage of modern Britain’s economic opportunities
- provide more English language classes for isolated groups
- encourage young people to mix in schools and across communities
- secure women’s emancipation in communities where they are being held back by regressive cultural practices
Dame Louise also proposes better safeguarding arrangements for all children who are not in mainstream education; increased integration expectations to be set out earlier in the immigration process and a new oath of integration enshrining British values for all holders of public office. She argues in her foreword for a “spirit of compassion and kindness” in the face of escalating division and tensions in society.
Commissioned by the government in 2015, the review has seen Dame Louise and her team travel widely across the country to meet more than 800 people in their communities, including public servants, religious representatives, teachers, pupils and local leaders. The review has also taken into consideration more than 200 submissions from think tanks, community groups, academics and others.
She concludes that, while Britain has benefited hugely from immigration and the increased ethnic and religious diversity it has brought, nowhere near enough emphasis has been put on integration in communities to match the pace and scale of the change in our population in recent years. Dame Louise says she has spoken to some communities who have told her the pace of change has been ‘too much’ for them to deal with. And she has found that some communities are becoming more divided, at the same time as Britain becomes a more diverse nation overall.
Dame Louise has found that this division between communities has been bad for Britain – leading to poorer social and economic opportunities for some groups.
She highlights persistent gender inequalities that are causing women to suffer in some communities – ranging from poor English language skills and economic inactivity to coercive control, violence and criminal acts of abuse, often enacted in the name of cultural or religious values.
“Social integration is about closing the gaps that exist between people and communities,” Dame Louise says. “This report has found those gaps exist in terms of where people live but also in terms of the lives they lead and the opportunities they have to succeed. So it is about how we get on in life, as well as how we get along with each other.
“To help bind Britain together and tackle some of the division in our society we need more opportunities for those from disadvantaged communities, particularly women, and more mixing between people from different backgrounds.
“We need more effort to be put into integration policies to help communities cope with the pace and scale of immigration and population change in recent years. But we also need more of a spirit of unity, compassion and kindness that brings people together under our common British values of tolerance, democracy, equality and respect.”
Dame Louise Casey is a former deputy director of the homelessness charity Shelter and was also previously the head of the Neighbourhood Crime and Justice Group in the Home Office, the first independent Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses of Crime, and Director General of the Troubled Families Team at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The Casey Review was commissioned by the UK government in July 2015 with a brief to consider what could be done to boost opportunity and integration in our most isolated and deprived communities in Great Britain.
Download the Casey Review report.
The report brings together Dame Louise’s findings, considering immigration and patterns of settlement; the extent to which people from different backgrounds mix and get on together; how different communities – considering ethnic and faith groups in particular – have fared economically and socially; and some of the issues that are driving inequality and division in society; and it makes recommendations on what we should do next in a new programme to help unite Britain.
The Casey Review sets out 12 initial recommendations for action, based around the themes of the review and designed to:
Build local communities’ resilience in the towns and cities where the greatest challenges exist
Central government should support a new programme to help improve community cohesion. This could back area-based plans and projects addressing the key priorities identified in this review. It would see targeted support provided for projects, ideally evidence-based, that would help build more resilient communities. The government should agree a final list of project criteria but these should include:
- the promotion of English language
- emancipating marginalised groups of women
- raising employment outcomes among the most marginalised groups
- increasing participation of women in the labour market
- improving IT literacy among parents in segregated areas
- boosting out of school mixing between young people – including through sporting activity
- other programmes with a clear focus on reducing segregation identified with local areas
It is also vital that all local authorities are able to pick up and act upon signs that integration is breaking down at the earliest stage. Central and local government should develop a list of indicators of a potential breakdown in integration. These might include incidences of hate crime or deficiencies in English language. Local authorities should collect this information regularly.
Drawing on the most effective approaches, central government should work with local government to bring together and disseminate a toolkit of approaches which have seen success.
Improve the integration of communities in Britain and establishing a set of values around which people from different backgrounds can unite
The promotion of British laws, history and values within the core curriculum in all schools would help build integration, tolerance, citizenship and resilience in our children. More weight should be attached to a British Values focus and syllabus in developing teaching skills and assessing schools performance.
The government should review how those on the visa routes most likely to settle permanently in the UK are given support on arrival. The government should consider whether additional integration support should be provided immediately post arrival, and how clearer expectations on integration could be set, potentially in advance on application for a visa, so that those moving to the UK get off to the best start, and know their rights and obligations.
The government should also review the route to full British Citizenship, which is of huge national, cultural and symbolic value. The government should look at what is required for British citizenship, as opposed to leave to remain, and separately consider an Oath of Integration with British Values and Society on arrival, rather than awaiting a final citizenship test.
Reduce economic exclusion, inequality and segregation in our most isolated and deprived communities and schools
The report notes how isolation can begin at a young age, with some children’s experience of school marked by segregation from wider British communities. The government has included a social need criterion in the allocation of free schools funding and should now move to work with schools providers and local communities to encourage a range of school provision and projects to ensure that children from different communities learn alongside those from different backgrounds, perhaps purchasing sites in the areas of highest segregation in advance and encouraging Multi-Academy Trusts to have a diverse range of provision.
The introduction of Universal Credit will bring a much wider range of people into contact with support in finding work for the first time. The government should build on classes to tackle English language deficiencies with the development of classes to tackle cultural barriers born out of segregation which are identified as a barrier to work, supporting both employment and integration goals.
A shared language is fundamental to integrated societies. The government should supporting further targeted English language provision by making sufficient funding available for community-based English language classes, and through the adult skills budget for local authorities to prioritise English language where there is a need. It should also review whether community based and skills funded programmes are consistently reaching those who need them most, and whether they are sufficiently coordinated.
Where we live can be both a cause and effect of isolation and segregation. The government should work with local government to understand how housing and regeneration policies could improve or inhibit integration locally, and promote best practice approaches.
It is extremely concerning that children can be excluded from mainstream education without sufficient checks on their wellbeing and integration. The government should step up the safeguarding arrangements for children who are removed from mainstream education, and in particular those who do not commence mainstream schooling at all. All children outside mainstream education should be required to register with local authorities and local authorities duties’ to know where children are being educated should be increased. It should also consider the standards against which home education is judged to be clear that divisive practices are not acceptable in any setting. While every parent has the right to choose what is best for their child, local authorities must be satisfied that children are not put at risk. Ofsted and the Charity Commission should be resourced to support additional central and local government action to ensure the safeguarding of all children in mainstream and supplementary educational environments.
Increase standards of leadership and integrity in public office
We expect the highest standards in all civic leaders in selflessness and integrity, so too we should expect all in public office to uphold the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. The government should work with the Committee for Standards in Public Life to ensure these values are enshrined in the principles of public life, including a new oath for holders of public office.