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E.g., 07/02/2023
Building a British Model of Integration in an Era of Immigration: Policy Lessons for Government
May 2012

Building a British Model of Integration in an Era of Immigration: Policy Lessons for Government

In this report, part of a Transatlantic Council on Migration series on national identity, the authors analyze developments in the United Kingdom’s integration policy over the past 15 years—a period in which immigration levels increased substantially, with the composition of migration flows becoming increasingly temporary and diverse in nature. The analysis focuses on whether or not immigration has influenced—or has been perceived to influence—national identity, integration outcomes, and neighborhood cohesion in communities.

The report identifies widespread British hostility to immigration as a critical element of public opinion regarding immigrant integration. The concern that immigrants weaken British national identity appears to be shaping policy both directly and indirectly, by changing the climate in which policy is made. Findings also indicate a wide variance in what the public understands integration to mean, which likely contributes to the lack of British policy consensus on what constitutes successful immigrant integration and how to effectively measure it. At the local level, perceptions of community cohesion seem to have less to do with immigration or immigrant integration outcomes and more to do with socioeconomic deprivation and the quality of public services. The report notes, however, that a rapid influx of immigrants could be perceived as a drain on public resources, thus undermining community stability.

Pointing to the absence of a fully coherent UK immigrant integration program, the report characterizes Britain’s approach to integration thus far as one of stock-taking rather than a goal-driven approach; few existing policy measures directly target immigrants, and authors forecast that integration through more tailored means is unlikely, at least in the near future. However, immigrants seemingly benefit disproportionately from a variety of social policies conceived without reference to integration objectives. Hence, the authors contend that the most promising long-term solution to integration challenges rests in the intelligent adaption of mainstream policy within an overarching national narrative that emphasizes inclusiveness and ensures that all groups move toward parity.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. The Context of Integration

A. Snapshot of Immigration in the United Kingdom

B. Public Opinion on Integration

III. Trends in Britishness, Integration, and Cohesion

A. National Identity: The Changing Meaning of “Britishness”

B. Immigrant Outcomes

C. Successful Local Communities

IV. Integration Policies

A. The Arc of Integration Policy from the Mid-1990s to the Present Day

B. Policy Measures

C. Future Policy Directions

D. Multiculturalism: Crisis and Continuity

V. Policy Impact

VI. Conclusions and Recommendations for Policy