A new report from The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration chaired by Chuka Umunna MP argues that the toxic immigration debate is hindering integration and calls for urgent action to build a more cohesive society.
Today’s report concludes the cross-party group’s inquiry into the integration of immigrants. It follows the publication in January of the APPG’s interim inquiry report, which called for the introduction of a regionalised immigration system and compulsory English classes for immigrants who don’t speak the language.
The cross party group of MPs and peers calls for:
- Urgent action from the Government, regional leaders, businesses and local communities to encourage the economic, civic and social integration of immigrants.
- Immigration reforms to go hand in hand with integration strategies that foster positive attitudes towards newcomers and the settled migrant population.
- The establishment of a student-loan style system for English classes - learning English must be a right extended to everyone in our society.
- A devolved, regionally-led immigration system to give people a greater sense of democratic control over immigration and provide localised solutions.
The recommendations which feature in this report have been informed by 12 months of hearings featuring immigration and integration experts and visits to communities where immigration has increased rapidly over recent years. The APPG has also drawn on the work of its Secretariat, The Challenge, the UK’s leading social integration charity.
Chuka Umunna MP, chair of the APPG on Social Integration, said:
“The demonisation of immigrants, exacerbated by the poisonous tone of the debate during the EU referendum campaign and after, shames us all and is a huge obstacle to creating a socially integrated nation. We must act now to safeguard our diverse communities from the peddlers of hatred and division while addressing valid concerns about the impact of immigration on public services, some of which can contribute to local tensions.
“We must start by valuing the contribution of all ethnic and minority communities to the UK. Rather than being seen as security risks, immigrants should be viewed as Britons-in-waiting, keen to participate in their community. The best way to do this isn’t to leave newcomers and their communities to sink or swim, but to offer migrants more support to integrate into our society.
“This report calls on the Government to overcome any and all barriers to integration – by teaching English to all, by better redistributing migrant numbers and by empowering local leaders to promote integration – so we can ensure the UK continues to be an open and global facing nation.”
Oliver Lee, CEO of The Challenge, the APPG’s Secretariat, said:
“Whether we are newcomers to this country or have been here for generations, we need to meet, mix and connect with one another. This is how we forge stronger, more trusting and cohesive communities. This report’s recommendations have social integration at their heart and this is absolutely right.”