Has time come for integrated communities? IRiS response to DHCLG green paper in a blog series

IRIS black3The much awaited Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (DHCLG) Integrated Communities Strategy green paper was released on the 14th of March. The paper sets out the Government’s proposals to create integrated communities and is the official response to the so-called Casey Review of 2016 which put forward a series of proposals to boost opportunity and integration “in our most isolated and deprived communities”.  Although the remit for both the review and the Green Paper was wide and intended to address the whole population, the emphasis in both has tended to be new migrant and minority communities.  The Green Paper outlines the challenges and proposes some initiatives to address seven areas: strengthening leadership, supporting new migrants and resident communities, education and young people, boosting the English language, places and community, increased economic opportunity and rights and freedoms. In a series of IRiS blogs we give our reactions, based on some two decades of research into integration in the UK and Europe, to the Green Paper:

IRiS Director, Professor Jenny Phillimore, was invited to participate in consultations for the Casey Review and was one of the IRiS team who submitted evidence.  She has recently, with Dr Laurence Lessard-Phillips, had her work on integration featured and in the British Academy report on social integration.  Professor Phillimore is currently working with the Home Office to revise the UK’s Indictors of Integration and evaluating the implementation of the new Community Sponsorship Programme for refugees in the West Midlands.  She has expressed her disappointment that both the review and the Green Paper have used very little empirical evidence on which to base both their arguments and suggestions, ignoring evidence which undermines the overall narrative in the documents.  Where evidence has been used it has been used extremely selectively.  She hopes that the IRiS blogs, and the research that inform them, will go some way in highlighting the strengths and flaws in the Green Paper while highlighting other actions that might be taken to achieve the Government’s goals.

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  1. As a charity, that provides classes for ESOL and Family Learning, groups like ours are closing due to lack of funding, we have struggled for the last four years. Birmingham is diverse, but we need on the ground help, particularly when our council is closing Early Start centres and support for children who do not have English as a first language. Schools have experienced cut backs repeatedly to their budgets they cannot provide translators to help these children, so the child suffers.
    Families need to have local support provided free, to give them the chance of obtaining employment and confidence to learn, this is not always a classroom environment, but friendly groups that especially the women are not afraid to attend. Those of us who speak English have no problem accessing help, but with Libraries closing and local Neighbourhood Offices, options are getting fewer.
    There would be a better chance of getting folks mixing, if there were fewer zero hours jobs and backstreet businesses were identified who did not treat staff properly, so all were paid equally and also tax and national insurance recouped from the workers. Poor landlords also need identifying, because some tenants are afraid or unaware of their rights so suffer in terrible conditions, small print if you do not read English is impossible to understand..

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