Tories; community measures will not make up for cuts damage

COMMUNITIES Secretary Sajid Javid, last Wednesday announced a raft of measures aimed at improving integration amongst Britain’s diverse ethnic communities.

This follows a Government consultation paper that revealed many ethnic minorities are leading separate lives, and that there are 770,000 people in Britain who cannot speak English and are therefore cut off from participation in mainstream society. Many of them are Asian women who rarely venture outside their own communities.

The author of the report was Dame Louise Casey, a former Blairite Cabinet member who once instructed the public not to give money to the homeless. She has demanded a date by which everyone “must speak English”. We can guess how that was received in the Welsh Assembly. Javid warned that “up to 70 per cent of those unable to speak the language were women, and most of them were from Pakistani or Bangladeshi communities.” He pledged £50 million to boost integration in Britain.

Javid said that his mother’s decision to learn English 15 years after arriving in the country “transformed her life”.

He said it enabled her to work for the family clothing business, build a new network of friends and — years later — meant she could speak freely with his wife, Laura, and her grandchildren.

He said the Government wanted to use Wednesday’s consultation document to tackle segregation by also: acting against cultural practices “not compatible with the British way of life” such as polygamy; tackling disproportionately low take-up rates of free childcare by Asian women; and using the roll-out of universal credit to help target ethnic minorities and help them to integrate better.

Savid’s proposals in the Integrated Communities Strategy include: Extra support for English language classes; the economic opportunities for people — particularly women — in segregated communities; Schemes to encourage school pupils to form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds; Increased take up of the groups of 16 and 17-year-olds carry out community projects; Promoting ‘British values’ in the school curriculum.

The plan comes at a time when extreme right-wing movements are inspiring more violent attacks on Muslim and other minority ethnic communities.

It also comes after Tory cuts to local authority funding have seen the demise of community relations councils throughout Britain. These were bridges between dozens of different communities in the areas they served.

They gave help and advice to a huge range of immigrants — West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, African, Irish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Latin American and many others — on our legal system, how to access health and education services, and how to get legal redress for offences against them.

They provided education, counselling, enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, and cultural and social events. They also provided emergency support for victims of hate crimes and liaised with police to improve racial awareness within the force. And they conducted anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns.

The Tories and the Blairite Labour governments also reversed the process of community integration by removing children’s education from the control of locally accountable education authorities and put it in the hands of private businesses, religious bigots and extremists through tax-payer supported ‘independent’ academies that operate outside the Ofsted inspectorate.

Youth projects that brought young people from all backgrounds together and gave them opportunities for sport, recreation and various projects have also virtually been wiped out by the Tories’ austerity cuts.

It is not surprising that the various ethnic communities have become more socially isolated than they were a couple of decades ago, and is disingenuous of the Tories to pretend they are surprised and dismayed by the outcome of their policies. £50 million will do very little to reverse the effects of these cuts — all the more reason to work hard for a Corbyn government