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15.03.18

Javid pinpoints five authorities with integration plan

The housing, communities and local government secretary has set out ambitious trials across five British councils, to tackle the root causes of poor integration in Britain.

Over the next two years, Sajid Javid has committed £50m to the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper, which seeks views on the government’s proposals to boost English language skills, increase opportunities for more women to enter the workplace and promote British values and meaningful discussion between young people.

Although Britain is generally considered to be a well-integrated society, with 85% of people reporting a feeling of belonging strongly to Britain, there is evidence, including Dame Louise Casey’s independent review into opportunity and integration, that a significant number of communities are divided along race, faith, or socioeconomic lines.

The government warns that this reduces the opportunities for people to mix with other from different backgrounds, allows the growth of mistrust and misunderstanding, and prevents those living in isolated communities from taking advantage of the opportunities of living in Britain.

Included in the latest strategy are plans to boost English language skills across all communities in England through offering a new community-based English language programme, a network of conversation clubs, and support for local authorities to improve the provision of tuition.

Javid claimed that previous governments have “refused to deal with” integration challenges, letting people “muddle along and live isolated and separated lives.”

He continued: “We will put an end to this through our new strategy which will create a country that works for everyone, whatever their background and wherever they come from.

“Integration challenges are not uniform throughout the country, with different areas and communities having varying needs.”

The government will work with five “Integration Areas” to develop local integration plans: Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest.

These authorities have already demonstrated a “keen grasp of the challenges they face” and have shown a “desire to try new things and learn from what works,” and learning from these areas will be shared more widely as the programme develops.

Jobcentre Plus will trial new approaches to support people from some of the most isolated communities into work, particularly for women.

The plan also includes proposals to ensure that young people have the opportunity to mix and form lasting relationships with people from different backgrounds, with promotion of British Values across the curriculum and increased take up of the national citizen service.

It calls on national and local leaders to ensure that all services have a strong focus on integration.

Recent migrants will receive a package of practical information to help them to understand and navigate British life, values and culture.

An Integration Innovation Fund will be introduced to allow organisations to bid to test new approaches to bring people from different backgrounds together and make better use of shared community spaces.

The strategy also sets out new measures to empower marginalised women, including exploring reform of the law on marriage and religious weddings, and strengthening action to tackle hate crime.

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, explained: “We want to make sure that all children learn the values that underpin our society – including fairness, tolerance and respect.

“These are values that help knit our communities together, which is why education is at the heart of this strategy.

“It’s also important that children are taught in a safe environment and that we can act quickly if children are at risk or being encouraged to undermine these values.

“Together, with Ofsted and communities across the country, we will build on the work already underway to achieve this.”

A consultation into the challenges of integration will run for 12 weeks until 5 June 2018.

Top image: FatCamera

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