Casey urges councils to monitor community cohesion

5 Dec 16

Local authorities should monitor and act on signs that community cohesion is breaking down to ensure Britain remains fair and inclusive, according to Dame Louise Casey.

This was the conclusion of the year-long review by the senior Department for Communities and Local Government civil servant, which assessed the state of social integration in the UK. Casey found that local authorities had a key role in bridging divides between people and building community resilience in towns and cities.

In the report, published today, Casey also called on central government to empower all communities to take advantage of Britain’s economic opportunities, provide more English language classes for isolated groups, and encourage young people to mix in schools and across communities.

She also argues for a “spirit of compassion and kindness” in the face of escalating division and tensions in society.

The review was based on interviews with hundreds of local people, public servants and religious representatives, teachers, pupils and local leaders.

Local authorities should pick up and act upon signs that cohesion is breaking down at the earliest stage, the report said. To this end, central government should draw up a list of indicators of a potential breakdown of integration, such as hate crime, or deficiencies in the English language. According to the report, in 2015-16 incidents of hate crime rose almost 20% compared with last year.  

Councils should collect and monitor these indicators regularly. Also, to bolster implementation effort, central government should also work with local government to bring together and disseminate a toolkit of approaches that have succeeded.

Casey called on government to launch a new programme to support community cohesion. It should provide targeted support to evidence-based projects around promoting the English language, emancipating marginalised groups of women, and raising employment outcomes among the most marginalised groups. Also, improving IT literacy among parents in segregated areas should also be a priority.  

The report noted that this could be achieved through area-based plans that address the key priorities identified in the review.

Casey, who previously led the government’s Troubled Families programme, said that social integration was about closing the gaps between people and communities. She added: “This report has found those gaps exist in terms of where people live but also in terms of the lives they lead and the opportunities they have to succeed.”

She said that to tackle the divisions in society, more opportunities were needed for those from disadvantaged communities, particularly women.

“We need more effort to be put into integration policies to help communities cope with the pace and scale of immigration and population change in recent years.”

This would be achieved, she said, through a spirit of unity that brings people together under common British values of tolerance, democracy, equality and respect.

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