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Rebuilding our Common Life

Ahead of the 2017 General Election, this short report set out a three-point plan outlining how the UK’s political leaders should promote active participation in community life and create more opportunities for people of all backgrounds to meet, mix and connect.


The new government’s social integration strategy should be mainstreaming a focus on social mixing within public service design and creating shared experiences.

Rebuilding our Common Life

In order to counter increasing levels of social segregation, this report promoted the social benefits of the National Citizen Service programme in bringing people together across divides, as well as the need to design public institutions to boost social trust and develop a national social integration strategy to build on the 2016 Casey Review.

Key findings

  • The UK is experiencing increasing levels of social segregation, partly reflecting patterns of residential separation, but also driven by the social habits of people living in diverse areas.
  • For example, Britons on average interact socially with someone of a different ethnicity less than half as often as would be expected if their social circles reflected the demographic makeup of their local area.
  • The trend towards social segregation was exposed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign and its aftermath, when it became apparent that many people – whether Remain or Leave voters – hadn’t come into contact with a supporter of the opposing view.
  • To bridge these divides, our public services and civic institutions should be designed to provide opportunities for people to connect with others from different walks of life. This should include counteracting the tendency of participants and service users to cluster in groups of people from similar backgrounds.
  • Given that moments of transition in people’s lives often provide the best opportunities for changing social habits, and that there is often a no more significant moment of transition than becoming a parent, postnatal programmes are a public service that should be used to encourage social mixing.
  • As the National Citizen Service continues to grow, policymakers should ensure that bringing together young people from different backgrounds to meet, mix and connect remains at the core of the programme.
  • The Government should build on the important work carried out by Dame Louise Casey and her team through their Review into Integration and Opportunity by developing and implementing a national integration strategy.

Summary

The new government’s social integration strategy should, in other words, be devoted not just to tackling entrenched inequalities and instances of isolation and division between communities; but to mainstreaming a focus on social mixing within public service design and creating shared experiences.

Interested in learning about our Policy Impact?

We believe that, through reforming and growing institutions and practices in small but intelligent ways, policymakers and social entrepreneurs could substantially increase integration between different people.

Visit our Policy Impact page.