Magazine article Public Finance

A Regional Route to Social Integration

Magazine article Public Finance

A Regional Route to Social Integration

Article excerpt

The 2017 general election was unusual on many levels, not just in its unexpected result but also the unique context in which it took place, with the Article 50 clock ticking and a campaign that was twice suspended as terrorists struck innocent victims fi rst in Manchester and then in London.

While the Brexit negotiations will dominate immediate political debate, it will not be long before the new government focuses its attention on tackling extremism and the linked issue of improving integration.

Renewed attention to integration is long overdue. Britain is a more anxious and fragmented society than any of us would want. The EU referendum vote split the country by place, by generation and by social class. Britain's multi-ethnic, multi-faith society is in many places an integration success story but it is one with challenges and tensions too, including concerns about segregation, extremism and prejudice.

Progress has been restricted by a lack of leadership from the top of politics and it is remarkable that we have never had a properly implemented integration strategy in this country.

The government now has a chance to address this as it responds to the Casey Review, which identifi ed some of the places where people have become cut off from mainstream society. While it will want to explore how better integration can play an important role in protecting British society and its citizens from extremism, its scope should be broader too: looking at the divisions that Brexit exposed and at the barriers to new arrivals in Britain becoming a full part of our shared society.

We should also look more broadly than national government to address integration. New mayors in England's six city regions represent nearly 10 million people between them.

They have an opportunity to develop more prominent leadership for cities and regions. …

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