A new report shows that the UK has not developed a formal integration program despite experiencing large-scale immigrant flows and settlement over the past half century.
The report titled “Building a British Model of Integration in an Era of Immigration: Policy Lessons for Government” by Shamit Saggar and Will Somerville, examines the UK’s immigration experience from an integration perspective.
The political debates around integration that have accompanied these flows have often been fraught and destabilizing, reflecting a deep-seated ambivalence about immigrants and immigration in British society.
The new report examines the three main categories of integration – national identity, immigrant outcomes, and successful communities – finding that these three definitions together make up the not entirely defined British model of integration.
According to report, the most effective routes to long-term integration — opening up the labour market to immigrants and enacting major mainstream public service programs — have not been adequately emphasized in the integration policy framework.
The emphasis instead has been on a system based on group rights that is designed to protect ethnic minorities rather than immigrants from poor treatment in public services and private markets.
The authors offer a menu of policy options and actions the government should consider to achieve a well-thought-out approach.
They urge the UK authorities to “adjust the practices, resources and incentives of agencies responsible for new arrivals.”
They also call for an intelligent adoption of mainstream social policies and programs. “This must acknowledge that successful integration is about ensuring all groups are moving toward parity and that the development of successful local communities relies on addressing deprivation, diversity management, and sensitive delivery of public services (especially housing),” they say.
UK authorities are also urged to “assess and mitigate policies that impact negatively on integration outcomes.”
The authors also ask UK authorities to “show leadership by deploying a national narrative that emphasizes civic contribution, inclusiveness, participation by all and access to the body politic.”