Government ‘should spend £15m more’ on migrant integration

30 Aug 18

Government spending to promote migrant integration should increase by £15m a year, a think-tank report has urged.

A lack of local government funding is preventing newly-arrived migrants integrating into communities, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research.

In a report published by the think-tank on Sunday, it concluded cash-strapped local authorities had focused on statutory services to the detriment of other responsibilities, such as community cohesion.  

“Local authorities have concentrated funding on statutory services (including adult and children social care), whilst centrally mandated responsibilities (most notably, the duty to promote cohesion) have been deprioritised,” the report said.

The study suggested "investment in integration should match changes in immigration” and urged the government to “commit to increasing the annual per-migrant integration budget to the level it was in 2009”.

This would mean increasing the Controlling Migration Fund budget, intended to support areas facing pressures due to recent immigration, from £35m £50m per year, the IPPR said.

The think-tank said funding for that integration budget had dropped by almost a third in eight years - from £8 per migrant in 2009 to £5.63 in 2017.

The report also recommended the government invest a proportion of visa and citizenship fees specifically on integration.

Visa fees for skilled migrants have increased five-fold over the past decade, while naturalisation fees have risen from £575 to £1,330, the IPPR noted.

Phoebe Griffith, IPPR associate director for migration, communities and integration, said that immigration has helped local economies grow.

She said: “Too many migrants struggle to find their feet quickly, becoming locked into low paid employment or working at well below their skills level.

“People need to be reassured that high levels of immigration are helping generate growth and prosperity in the places where they live.”

She added: “Our work with local residents confirms that people aren’t persuaded that this has been the case and want to see more investment in integration.”

Alongside extra funding, the think-tank suggested the government launch localised language teaching campaigns, create a bursary to ensure family migrants invest in language classes and officially recognise a wider range of overseas qualifications.

In July, communities secretary James Brokenshire committed £7m to support for integration through sports programmes.

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