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Casey calls for integration plan to bind communities together

Dame Louise Casey publishes her report into social integration in Great Britain.

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.”

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