Louise Casey’s Integration report suggests that as a society we are more divided and segregated than ever, driven in part by high levels of inequality resulting in social isolation. Her figures show that 41%-51% of Black, Pakistani, Chinese and Bangladeshi families are on relative low income compared to the 19% of White households. People from the formerly mentioned group are three times as likely to be unemployed; the figures for young black men for example are 35% compared to 15% for young white men.
With a particular focus on Muslims, the key findings of the report make it clear that women in isolated communities are the most severely disadvantaged and negatively impacted especially in relation to their human rights, opportunities and economic wellbeing. This has come as a result of the failure to tackle social and economic inequalities but also harmful cultural and religious practices that exist due to the misogyny and patriarchy identified in isolated communities. Part of the failure to tackle inequality and regressive practices has been because of the fear of statutory agencies and individuals being labelled racist, or culturally insensitive.
This comes as no surprise to Inspire given our work over the last nine years. We have been at the forefront of highlighting some of the issues raised in this report. Some of these findings were also noted recently in August in the Women and Equalities Committee report into employment opportunities and also in the census figures behind David Cameron’s English language policy announced in January 2016. While this report reconfirms some of these barriers to integration, it has been evident that both successive and current governments have not done enough to address integration and social cohesion. The Prime Minister herself on the steps of Downing Street made it clear that she would make Britain a country that works for everyone, and not just for the privileged few. As of yet, there has been no official statement from the Government about what it intends to do in light of Louise Casey’s findings.
Louise Casey has clearly identified the need for urgent action and a new integration strategy – one that is entirely separate from Government counter terrorism and counter extremism policies. For real change, an integration strategy must be one that is holistic and permeates through all aspects of government policy, for example housing, education, welfare, culture etc.
We are concerned that if we do not urgently address the barriers to integration, the isolation, separation and inequalities that currently exist, some communities will become more isolated, and divided helping to breed resentment. This would provide fertile recruitment ground for both Islamist and Far Right extremists, neither of whom care about creating a unified and stronger Britain. Together we need to create an inclusive country based on a common set of values, nurture a genuine culture of belonging and ensure that all our citizens believe they have an equal stake in our society. We hope the Government will lead in delivering a Britain that does indeed work for everyone.
Yasmin Weaver- Project Manager, Inspire