In response to PM David Cameron’s speech today about reducing immigration figures and encouraging the integration of people settling here, Jonathan Ellis, Director of Advocacy at the Refugee Council said:
“We are encouraged that in a speech about reducing the number of people coming to the UK, the Prime Minister has noted the importance of keeping our doors open to people fleeing persecution. We are also pleased the UKBA is close to clearing the backlog of asylum cases that has left so many people without a decision for far too long, leaving them unable to play a full part in society for years, but they must not stop until the backlog is cleared.
“However, David Cameron’s demands for people settling in the UK to speak English and make more effort to integrate into their local communities are completely contradicted by the government’s swingeing cuts to funding for ESOL classes. We know from our experience how important it is for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to develop their English, yet many refugees, asylum seekers and migrants will be unable to afford to learn English lessons as a result of the cuts, further isolating many people from mainstream society.
“In addition, cuts to refugee integration services will undoubtedly hinder people with permission to live here from being able to contribute to life in the UK. In order for the government to achieve its goals of integrated communities across the country, they must ensure that there is enough money to support people to do so.”