Integration is crucial - for the wellbeing of individual migrants and their families, and as an important part of equipping the UK to cope with migration levels that are likely to remain high. But while immigration policy has risen up the political agenda, integration policy has lagged behind.
While integration often happens without intervention from the state, there is a role for policy, particularly with respect to groups and communities who are at risk of being left behind. Current UK policy is failing both migrant groups with less successful integration trajectories and communities where integration is not working, and it is not learning lessons from groups and communities where integration has been successful.
Ultimately, integration happens in communities, within everyday life. The kind of policies discussed in this paper may be necessary for successful integration, particularly of vulnerable groups and in disadvantaged communities, but they are certainly not sufficient.
This report sets the scene for further work on integration policy and practice, by:
- reviewing theoretical approaches to integration, including the differences between the crucial concepts of integration and cohesion
- assessing more than a century of British integration policy, with an especial focus on policy changes and government initiatives since 1990
- analysing the different ways in which integration occurs, through education, employment, income, childhood, housing and society
- identifying some of the essential elements and potential opportunities for a new kind form of integration policy, nationally and at the community level.
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