18.10.2019

Celebrating the APPG on Social Integration’s work so far

The All-Party Parliamentary (APPG) Group on Social Integration is set to publish its final report on intergenerational connection this winter, with recommendations to Government that it introduces new policies to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together.

In the run-up to this, we take a look back on the achievements of the APPG over the past three years.

The APPG and its purpose

Since its founding in 2016, the APPG on Social Integration has led the way in shaping an agenda for a more integrated Britain in which people of different ethnicity, age and income enjoy meaningful social connections with one another. The APPG believes that if stronger bonds are built between all groups in society, then trust and understanding increases, and prejudice declines. Given the current social divisions evident in our politics, that vision has never been more important. 

The cross-party group of MPs and Lords that make up the APPG has been chaired since 2016 by Chuka Umunna MP, and the secretariat provided by leading social integration charity, The Challenge. Its membership brings together parliamentarians from five different parties and all corners of the UK. 

Over the course of two major inquiries, one into the integration of immigrants and the second into intergenerational connection, the APPG has set a standard for serious and detailed thinking about how we build a more integrated society. It has attracted media attention to issues that don’t receive enough of it, and helped to shape the integration strategies of central and regional government. 

Here we celebrate the APPG on Social Integration’s greatest achievements so far. 

Integration of immigrants inquiry

The APPG turned its attention first to the integration of immigrants, recognising that rapid immigration, if left entirely unmanaged, can threaten people’s sense of security and cohesion. These issues are exacerbated when migrants and members of host communities do not meet, mix and lead shared lives. The APPG collected written and oral evidence across the country, including through community visits to Boston, Lincoln and Dagenham, and published two reports as part of the inquiry, culminating in its ‘Integration Not Demonisation’ report in August 2017. 

Highlights from the inquiry included:

  • ‘Integration Not Demonisation’ set out a comprehensive policy framework for future integration policy, putting forward 56 policy recommendations for better promoting the integration of immigrants across the country. These included calling for a regionally-led immigration plan, promoting new pathways to citizenship, and arguing that a full English language strategy should be published by the Government. 
  • ‘Integration Not Demonisation’ attracted widespread media attention, with Chuka Umunna discussing the report on BBC Breakfast and Good Morning Britain, and in a piece for the New Statesman
  • The APPG’s interim report, which launched in January 2017 at the British Academy and set out the principles upon which the final report was based, also generated comments across national broadcast and print media, including articles on BBC News, and an interview with BBC Breakfast. 

The inquiry has had significant influence since:

  • The Government’s 2018 Integrated Communities Strategy green paper drew on many of the recommendations in ‘Integration Not Demonisation’, including the way it talked about integration as a ‘two-way street’, and it’s commitment to a full English language strategy. Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government at the time, said in Parliament that the APPG’s report had shaped the green paper’s thinking. 
  • The Greater London Authority (GLA)’s 2018 ‘All of Us’ integration strategy cited ‘Integration Not Demonisation’ on numerous occasions, highlighting the APPG’s definition of social integration, and its recommendations for public services to promote cross-community contact. 
  • In July 2019, MPs debated English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision in Parliament, and six MPs from three different parties referenced the ‘Integration Not Demonisation’ report. These MPs included the APPG’s vice chair, Holly Lynch, and you can watch a short clip of her extended speech here

Intergenerational connection inquiry

The APPG has since turned its attention to the question of intergenerational connection. This decision arose from real concern over the stark age divides that had been exposed in the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 General Election. What has become clear during the inquiry is that the UK’s generational divide extends beyond politics into our social lives, with young and old increasingly living separately. 

The APPG has explored intergenerational projects in London, Manchester and the West Midlands, and collated written evidence from over 40 different organisations and individuals and oral evidence at five parliamentary hearings. 

Highlights from the inquiry have included:

  • The APPG’s ‘Ages Apart?’ essay collection includes contributions from some of the leading thinkers on intergenerational connection. It’s well worth a read.
  • The APPG’s interim report ‘Healing the Generational Divide’ was launched at the University of Bath in May 2019, and set out four main policy areas through which stronger intergenerational connections could be created: local community projects, shared services, housing and technology. 
  • The interim report was covered by BBC Politics and six national newspapers, including the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, as well as reaching Australia. The coverage highlighted recommendations such as a national volunteering service for older people and the introduction of  a 1p charge on self-service checkouts to help fund local intergenerational projects.

What next?

We look forward to launching the APPG’s final report on intergenerational connection later this year. The report will look at ways we can tackle ageism and propose a series of policy recommendations for connecting generations through shared services and spaces, housing and technology. These will include ideas to create a new national volunteering service and a digital literacy strategy to help people of all ages improve their online skills and use these to help strengthen communities.

At a time when Brexit has shone a light on the divided nature of modern Britain, creating a truly integrated society has never been more important. As we enter a new decade, we must keep shaping the conversation on one of the most important social issues of our time.  

If you would like to be involved with the APPG’s work, be kept informed of what it is doing, or have ideas about where it should go next, please contact appg.socialintegration@the-challenge.org and follow us on Twitter here