Research about to be published by leading integration experts Professor Ted Cantle and Professor Eric Kaufmann reveals that while England as a whole is more ethnically mixed, we are allowing white and ethnic minority populations to become more isolated from each other.
The research, published on openDemocracy, presents census data in an entirely new way and comes as the government prepares to publish its major review into integration, segregation and extremism, led by Integration Tsar Dame Louise Casey.
This also follows the national debate about immigration in the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and the surge in hate crime. Professor Cantle commented “the antipathy towards some communities may have been much less if we were more integrated and actually lived in mixed areas – all the evidence suggests that prejudice and intolerance is broken down by contact”.
The research finds that the strong shift towards the polarisation of White British and minority groups is mainly in our urban areas.
- Ethnic minorities in many towns and cities across England – from North to South - such as Slough, Birmingham, Leicester, Luton and Bradford, as well London Boroughs, are living in areas with an increasingly dwindling White British population and growing minorities.
- Ethnic minorities are increasing in many areas but this trend has not kept pace with the overall change and is further away from a proportionality.
- The trend towards isolation is even greater in smaller geographic areas, for example at ward level.
- The pace of change is striking, and most prominent in urban ‘pockets of diversity’, many showing a decrease in the white population of over 50 percentage points from 1991-2011.
Professor Cantle, who carried out a report into community cohesion in the wake of a series of race riots in 2001, said: "Analysis of the census data on ethnicity has to date been very broad and has concealed some of the trends and findings this research unveils.
This research shows what is happening on a local level and that there is increasing polarisation between the White majority population and minorities across England, particularly in our urban areas. This has gone under the radar, but it is time this became a national priority because cohesion is at stake"
"The focus of policy needs to shift, this is not just about minorities, politicians and policy-makers need to encourage White British residents to remain in diverse areas; to choose, rather than avoid, diverse areas when they do re-locate, encouraging similar choices with respect to placing pupils in diverse schools; in other words to create a positive choice for mixed areas and a shared society."
Chuka Umunna MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration, said: "During a year in which our country has seemed more divided than at any point in modern history, there are few questions which require investigation more urgently than the matter of how well we are living together. Equally, however – at a time in which our political debate has become yet more polarised and media headlines yet more fraught – there are few questions which it can seem harder to get to the bottom of.
"It’s clear that, whilst the UK is becoming increasingly diverse, levels of integration are not keeping pace. This has real implications for community cohesion – with social segregation having been shown to undermine trust between neighbours, to grow the fear of crime and bolster the prejudice which fuels the politics of recrimination and blame."
1. Press enquires to Professor Ted Cantle, please go through Anna Liberadzki at openDemocracy during office hours: 07496 071965