UK Localism: Unprecedented Opportunity for Local Migrant Integration Policies or ‘White Elephant’?
Since 2010 successive legislation aimed at decentralising power to the local level has led to the assertion that UK integration policies have undergone a ‘localist turn’ (Ali and Gidley 2014). When taken on face value, it is easy how this would appear to be the case. The 2012 Creating the Conditions for Integration policy clearly designates integration as a local issue and in 2016, the government introduced an Act which they claimed was “the biggest transfer of power from central to local government in recent history” (Osbourne, cited in Watt, 2015) Theoretically, local authorities in the UK have been given an unprecedented opportunity to inovate and facilitate migrant integration in their localities.
Nevertheless, when a power lens is applied to all government steers affecting a local authority’s ability to facilitate migrant integration (not just that contained within official integration policy), a different picture emerges. Rather than a local turn, the resesarch contained within this chapter argues that an encroachment on the autonomy of local authority’s ability to facilitate integration has taken place. Using a modified version of Emilsson’s 2015 compliance framework to highlight the composite effect of central government steers, it is questioned whether the designation of integration as a local issue, is in fact a white elephant.
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