Former government advisor believes language is key to social integration

A former government advisor regarding social integration has revealed that she believes everyone living in the UK should be able to speak English.

Dame Louise Carey, the ex-head of the Government’s Respect task force, said that she would set a date by which everyone in Britain should be able to speak English.

“I don’t care how we’ve got here, I don’t care who can’t speak English, I don’t care what’s going on but what I do know is that everybody of working age and of school age should be able to speak the language,” she said. “And I think the public in particular would feel some relief.”

The 2011 census showed that, of the 4.2m people who have a main language other than English in England and Wales, only 1.3 per cent, or 726,000, of the population reported that they could not speak English well.

Dame Casey, who became head of the national Anti-Social Behaviour Unit in 2003, launched a review in 2015 of community cohesion. Its findings were published in late 2016.

Earlier this week the government published a new Integrated Communities Strategy based in response to this review.

While no plans were put in place to ensure all residents of the UK speak English, the paper did announce the launch of a new social integration programme that will be piloted by councils in five English cities.

The five areas which have been selected to pilot new measures aimed at promoting integration and opportunity are: Blackburn, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall, and the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The paper states that the strategy requires a “whole council” approach to integration, with a “mainstreaming” of objectives across policy and service delivery.

The government also said it will work with councils to ensure school intakes are “more representative of the wider area” and “strengthen expectations” for new free schools to promote integration.

“This government has an ambitious goal: to build strong integrated communities where people – whatever their background – live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities,” said integrated communities strategy, housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid. “This strategy sets out how we plan to do so.”

Article published 15th March 2018