Cohesion and Integration – Recent Developments
The Cohesion and Integration agenda is developing very quickly with new initiatives led by Government, local government and civil society organisations – we hope this helps to keep you up to date with all developments.
All Together Now: meaningful mixing for an integrated society was published by The Challenge in 2018 and provides practical guidance on breaking down barriers between communities, developing a common sense of belonging, and tackling prejudice and pre-conceptions about ‘others’.
The London Mayor’s All of Us: The Mayor’s Strategy for Social Integration was launched in March 2018 the London Mayor describes social integration as a top priority for him and the City.
The Greater Manchester Authority (GMA) set up a commission to review the state of cohesion in the area and their report, A Shared Future, a report of the Greater Manchester Preventing Hateful Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion was produced in 2018.
Birmingham City Council also produced a new strategy in 2018. This was entitled Community Cohesion Strategy for Birmingham and this stated; ‘Together we will make a commitment to ensure that Birmingham becomes stronger and more resilient, and is a place where people from different backgrounds can come together to improve things for themselves and their communities.’
The Government (MHCLG) Strategy…
Perhaps the most far-reaching development is that from The Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG). The Integrated Communities Strategy was launched in March 2018 in response to an earlier review by Dame Louise Casey. It sets out:
“ambitious goals to tackle the root causes of a lack of integration – including a lack of social mixing in some of our neighbourhoods and schools, unemployment and poor English language skills. It calls on leaders across central and local government, civil society, business, and communities themselves to do more to promote integration and tackle the practices, attitudes and behaviours which isolate people and stand in the way of the society we want to build.”
The Integrated Communities Strategy established five Integration Areas in England: Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall and the London Borough of Waltham Forest. We hope to report on developments in these areas.
The Strategy was supported by a £7m Innovation Fund to invite bids ‘that work closely with communities (and) must be bold and innovative in order to tackle some of the most persistent and systemic integration challenges, taking an evidence-based approach, based on local needs.’
We will be reporting on developments once these new schemes have been agreed.
Further, a £6m programme has been set up to invite proposals that ‘enable people, in particular women from segregated communities, to learn in a local setting, with a strong focus on building confidence in using English to mix with people from different backgrounds. We want learning to focus on handling practical daily scenarios such as visiting the doctor, speaking to neighbours or teachers, helping their child with schoolwork, shopping or accessing services from the Council.’
Again we hope to report progress on this initiative.
Response to the Consultation on the Integrated Communities Strategy
In March 2018, the Government launched a consultation on the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper to obtain the views of the public and organisations on its goal to build integrated communities. Over 3,400 responses were received from organisations and individuals. The Government has been working since then to develop its response to the consultation and the final document was published on Saturday 9th February. You can find it here: Integrated Communities Strategy green paper
Alongside the Government’s response to the consultation, they have also published an Integrated Communities Action Plan and it can be found here: Integrated Communities Action Plan
The action plan sets out more than 70 actions to be delivered by a number of Departments across Government to help create strong and integrated communities. These include:
- Developing a new national strategy for English language in England, to improve the local offer for learners and provide a good platform for all those that are seeking to learn English.
- Piloting a package of practical information to help recent migrants integrate into their communities, understand and access opportunities to meet, mix and build social connections with neighbours and the wider community.
- Publishing a new Community Guide to Action to support and empower people to take action to strengthen their local communities and foster greater integration.
- Supporting the new Cohesion and Integration Network (COIN) to enable it to identify best practice on promoting integration and tackling segregation and to share this widely.
We look forward to continuing to work with MHCLG via the 5 Integration areas and other partners to disseminate the lessons learnt and good practice as plans are implemented.
The Commission on Religious Education (CoRE) has spent two years taking evidence and views and its final report Religion and World Views – The Way Forward (2018) proposes a new national plan for religious education. They want to see every school providing children of all backgrounds, with an appreciation of all faith and non-faith based beliefs in order that they are ‘well prepared for life in a world where controversy over such matters is pervasive and where many people lack the knowledge to make their own informed decisions’. The Government is presently considering the Commission’s recommendations.
The Community Life Survey 2017-18 published by the Department Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is a key evidence source on social cohesion, community engagement and social action. It also shows trends over time. However, it is important to explore local variation and other differences in results by age, gender and social class.