Jumping further down the rabbit hole of strange requests, councils have informed UK residents to have block parties with migrants. According to an article in The Independent: “Councils should offer their local residents cash to hold street parties with their new immigrant neighbours to foster friendship and integration, a new report will propose this week.
Money collected from citizenship fees should also be diverted to local authorities facing the greatest pressure from immigration to ease tension between communities and respond to increasingly heated rhetoric from Ukip on the issue.
The report by the IPPR think tank suggests that the £906 citizenship fee could be halved for migrants who carry out voluntary work in their new community. It also calls on councils to copy Newham in east London, which has responded to high levels of immigration by offering £200 to local people to hold street parties with their new neighbours. The report says councils should be given more powers to create “shared ground” within communities.
Citizenship fees paid by migrants could put into a new £400m Settlement Support Fund, boosted by an increased levy of £75 on visa fees, where there is a high degree of population churn. Immigrants who have carried out voluntary work could see their £906 citizenship application fee cut to £406.
IPPR argues that people seeking British citizenship should be given a strong incentive to share in, and make a contribution to, their neighbourhood. In 2012, 194,344 foreign citizens naturalised as British citizens, up from 177,878 in 2011 and from a five-year average of 169,373 from 2006-10. The Settlement Support Fund would be managed by central government but passed on to the local areas affected the most by immigration.
The report says that the Government, besides introducing tough measures to reduce the number of migrants to the UK, needs to adapt to high immigration by devolving power to local authorities.
In a further measure, local authorities should have the power to collect data on British citizens and migrants through council tax forms, which would make town halls better prepared for population churn.
The report says Newham council’s approach of issuing £200 for neighbours to run “inclusive” street parties is extremely popular, despite being a relatively small, low-cost initiative and encourage other local councils to consider the scheme.
The report says: “In a time of austerity, it is unrealistic to expect central government to invest heavily in migrant integration. Instead, our vision is for policymakers at the national and local level to build a society that promotes collective responsibility and mutual respect for ‘public things’ so that all citizens can live well together. We refer to this goal as achieving ‘shared ground’, and it is based on three key principles: 1. Managing the impacts of flux and churn from immigration; 2. Building inclusivity in institutions and services; 3. Instilling responsibility among all citizens”.
Alice Sachrajda, senior research fellow at IPPR, said: “Overcrowded houses, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour are scourges in some local communities, and can often arise as a result of high immigration. Ukip’s prominent interventions in public debates offer a simple solution: fewer migrants equals fewer problems of this sort. This facile response resonates with the many people who are concerned about immigration (the second most important issue after the NHS, according to a recent ICM poll). But, given that we have already had high inflows of immigration into the UK, this empty promise speaks of locking the stable door after the proverbial horse has bolted.”
As Westminster parties continued to respond to pressure from Ukip to do more on immigration and Europe, David Goodhart, director of Demos, called on David Cameron to introduce a two-year ban on EU migrants to Britain claiming benefits, extending the current threshold of three months. Writing in The Independent on Sunday, Mr Goodhart says the Prime Minister could make the case for the plan in Europe because it would need only qualified majority voting to approve it. A No 10 source declined to comment on the idea.
Meanwhile, Tory MEP Sajjad Karim has called for an end to “scapegoating” of migrants by all political parties, including his own. Writing for The IoS, he criticises the “confused hysteria” of mixing the rights of the movement of people with the issue of immigration. He points out that immigrants from EU countries have paid more in tax in Britain than they received in benefits.
Support for EU rises, but Labour slips back
Support among voters for the free movement of workers within the European Union has risen since last year, a poll for The Independent on Sunday reveals today.
The ComRes poll shows that 36 per cent agree with this principle, up from 23 per cent in August 2013. While more people – 46 per cent – are against, the survey suggests that voters’ attitude to the EU is softening despite the electoral success of Ukip.
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