Funding cuts undermine Cameron’s integration message

David Cameron called for immigrants to have more “understanding of British values” as part of his strategy to tackle extremism - but at the same time is cutting funding for ESOL that enables those very people to integrate into society.

James Lee is a Policy Advisor at the Refugee Council

As Left Foot Forward points out, David Cameron has contradicted himself: this month he called for immigrants to have more “understanding of British values” as part of his strategy to tackle extremism, but at the same time is cutting funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) that enables those very people to integrate into society.

New research by the Association of Colleges draws welcome attention to the problems this will cause, including the devastating effect this will have on refugees and asylum seekers attempting to play their part in UK life.

Take our client Sara, for example. She came here as an asylum seeker from Turkey in 2007 and spoke limited English. She wanted to be able to contribute to UK life and study here, and enrolled in an ESOL course.

As an asylum seeker she was not allowed to work, and was therefore eligible for funding. Without this help Sara could not have begun to learn English, as she had no means to pay for the course herself.

She is still waiting for a decision on her asylum case, but in the meantime, as a result of learning English, has been able to volunteer in her local charity shop three days a week, and in a local nursery for two days. Under new guidelines, people like Sara – a fine example not only of someone trying to integrate into society, but also to help her local community – will no longer be eligible for full ESOL funding. Asylum seekers will have to pay 50% of their course fees, and will have to pay registration fees, exam fees and childcare expenses themselves. With what, we wonder.

Refugees who have been given status will also miss out. These include parents, carers and older refugees for whom ESOL will be a lifeline, as well as refugees in employment. But the government cannot assume that a refugee who is in work will be able to afford ESOL classes.

The majority of refugees are on low incomes so are unlikely to be able to afford fees and will therefore be confined to low skilled and low paid jobs where English is not a necessity, even if they are highly skilled doctors or lawyers for example.

Without access to English classes, the feelings of isolation many asylum seekers and refugees face will be exacerbated. As people are forced to rely more on their own families and communities to interpret for them, therefore restricting their access to mainstream services, it will encourage the segregation of communities the prime minister is so worried about.

We are campaigning for the government to reconsider these proposals, and urge others to join us. We know that cuts are being made across the board, but this is no reason to let the most vulnerable people in our society to suffer further. Moreover, if David Cameron is serious about encouraging integration and for new arrivals to the country to ‘understand British values’, he must now prove that he is committed to helping them do so.

30 Responses to “Funding cuts undermine Cameron’s integration message”

  1. Press Not Sorry

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  2. Nick Stanton

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  3. salardeen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  4. Anthony Painter

    Refugee Council draws more attention to the absurdity of the Government position on English lessons and integration. //bit.ly/fPD91X

  5. sean gittins

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  6. Will Straw

    Important piece by @RefugeeCouncil showing how cuts to English teaching will undermine Cam's integration aims: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by

  7. anyleftiwonder

    As with everything else nothing has been thought through. The consequences of this governments actions will be felt for generations unless labour can stop the rot. I live in hope.

  8. Refugee Council

    Funding #cuts undermine Cameron's integration message:
    //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  9. R Gordon

    RT @wdjstraw Important piece by @RefugeeCouncil about how cuts 2 English teaching will undermine Cam's integration aims //bit.ly/gj2wyf

  10. Samuel Tarry

    RT @wdjstraw: Important piece by @RefugeeCouncil how cuts to English teaching will undermine Cam's integration aims: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by

  11. Anne Greenwood

    RT @refugeecouncil: Funding #cuts undermine Cameron's integration message:
    //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  12. Action for ESOL

    RT @refugeecouncil: Funding #cuts undermine Cameron's integration message:
    //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  13. English Made Fun

    Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message | Left Foot …: Without this help Sara could not have begu… //bit.ly/dYZWa6

  14. Gemma

    RT @refugeecouncil: Funding #cuts undermine Cameron's integration message:
    //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  15. Kelvin John Edge

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  16. hlcheathrow

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  17. Celia Roberts

    For all but the lowest paid contract jobs, the great British job interview represents a closed gate to many refugees and asylum seekers. The Department of Work and Pensions’ research shows that those born abroad are much less likely to pass the job interview than anyone born here. Without ESOL classes, the chance to get on the next rung of the employment ladder is denied many keen job-sekers.

  18. Christine Johnson

    RT @wdjstraw: @RefugeeCouncil showing how cuts to English teaching will undermine Cam's integration aims: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by

  19. neilhopkins22

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message: //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  20. Mr. Sensible

    Anyleftiwonder I completely agree.

    Another one that hasn’t been thought through.

  21. Daniel Pitt

    Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message //bit.ly/gj2wyf #ConDemNation

  22. Stella McManus

    RT @refugeecouncil: Funding #cuts undermine Cameron's integration message:
    //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  23. don't ask don't tell

    RT @refugeecouncil: Funding #cuts undermine Cameron's integration message:
    //bit.ly/gj2wyf by @RefugeeCouncil's James Lee

  24. EON

    “…no reason to let the most vulnerable people in our society to suffer further.” Cameron is not interested in people suffering, because to him, they are making themselves suffer. Those who want integration, will seek it with cash, those who can’t or w’ont pay clearly don’t want to integrate.

    This is at the heart of Cameron’s mind set. That is the only reasoning he understands. That is his upbringing speaking.

  25. Steve Green

    Cuts in ESOL for refugees etc Another example of utter incompetence of govt. @stellacreasy #ukuncut //bit.ly/gI6K5Z

  26. Bodderick

    People of the left need to get it into their heads: The days of the State providing everything from cradle to grave are dead. If you come to this country the onus should be upon YOU to integrate. Period.

  27. natecla

    RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message //bit.ly/gk2bjG #actionforESOL#ESOL

  28. EON

    Bodderick’s (5) comment is a prime example of this type of thinking. Call it narrow minded, un-caring, sanctimonious even. But the worst thing you could call it is democratic and that is the exactly what they are doing.

    Replacing the accountable public with the un-elected shareholder is not democtracy in action.

  29. Mr. Sensible

    Eon I completely agree; Bodderick’s comment runs to the entire point this article is trying to make.

  30. Sue Lyon-Jones

    RT @NATECLA: RT @leftfootfwd: Funding cuts undermine Cameron's integration message //bit.ly/gk2bjG #actionforESOL#ESOL

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