Friday, 21 June 2013

Integration policy should be more than hoping for the best

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We believe integration policy really matters. People aged under 55 living in the UK trust their neighbours less than in any other European country.  How we rebuild this trust and the connections between people is critically important; important for our economy and our society. 

Unfortunately, integration policy is not always well understood. This week we are using the blog to challenge some of the main misconceptions.

Misconception 4: Integration policy is not really a matter for policy at all.  

Too many times I have heard politicians and commentators lament that you cannot force people to mix and therefore we must do nothing. 

This is the deepest misconception of all. You cannot force people to stop smoking, but you can decide whether to let them know that it causes cancer. You cannot force people to take exercise, but you can decide whether to offer PE in schools. You cannot force people to read to their children, but you can give them free books when their children are born.

Too many of us have accepted a policy of shrugging and doing next to nothing when it comes to integrating our population.  This looks particularly cavalier when we recognise that our society is becoming more diverse by age, income and ethnicity.  By 2050, we will be the most ethnically diverse country in the rich world, 50% of our population will be either under 18 or over 60 and the distance between the rich and poor – on present trends – will be even further apart.  

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