By Alice Sachrajda, Qualitative Research Fellow, IPPR
The UK political and policy debate on immigration tends to be dominated by the government's net migration target. The focus on this target gets in the way of discussions about the impacts that newly arrived migrants have on local communities. When the impacts of migration are discussed, the focus tends to be on economic costs and benefits. But social and cultural factors are important drivers of public opinion on immigration, as well as being crucial to migrants' experiences of the UK.
Migrants, and the communities they live in, have a shared interest in successful integration, but political and policy debates are not generating new ideas about how this can be achieved in practice. Top-down approaches like citizenship ceremonies and enforced English language requirements have a role to play, but are not the sole answer to a comprehensive integration strategy. IPPR considers that integration needs to be encouraged and fostered at the "everyday" level – such as in workplaces, schools and community settings.
The Social Integration Commission provides a welcome opportunity to move the debate forward in this area. A positive and pragmatic response to integration is likely to result in migrants succeeding and thriving in the UK, and local people responding more positively to migration in their area.
Alice is a member of the Commission's Policy Working Group