25 July 2008
Addressing deprivation and access to opportunity is more important in defusing community tensions than attempting to foster a common sense of 'Britishness', according to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The report, Immigration and social cohesion in the UK, published on July 21, found that although many British people valued their children growing up in a diverse culture, they also believed that their prospects – especially in terms of housing and education – could be reduced as a result of immigration.
The research by staff at the Institute for the Study of European Transformations at London Metropolitan University echoed the findings of the communities and local government select committee report on community cohesion, published last week. The MPs found that public concern over migration was prompted largely by anxieties over pressure on local services.
The Rowntree report said limited opportunities for people in parts of the UK were undermining attempts to ensure new migrants were well received. It found a stark divide between areas that were equipped to adapt to new migrants and those that were not.
ISET director Professor Mary Hickman said: 'Although many British people value the UK for being multi-ethnic and multicultural, poverty and lack of opportunities undermine cohesion.'
The researchers looked at six sites and found communities that felt their locality belonged particularly to them were more likely to blame new arrivals for problems that might have already existed. They said: 'The findings of this research go against the grain of the idea that we need a fixed notion of Britishness and British values.'