The Pickles Integration Speech – big on rhetoric, small on ideas


Jill Rutter writes on migration issues and through IPPR will be publishing a paper on integration in February 2013.

A month after Ed Miliband’s speech on migrant integration and nearly 12 months after his Department published its eric picklesintegration strategy, Eric Pickles made his first speech on this issue in a speech hosted by Policy Exchange and British Future. Devoid of serious policy debate and riddled with Daily Mail prejudices, it was a speech that left many in the audience in bemused silence.

Pickles began his speech by listing the cultural successes of last summer: the Olympics and Paralympics, the Jubilee weekend, Big Lunches, the Big Bandstand Marathon and so on, praising the volunteers who made so many of these events a success. So far, so good. But Olympic nostalgia soon gave way to a lengthy and crude attack on the last government’s record on integration:

some policymakers of the past want Stalinist five years plans. They believe in focus groups, beanbags and box ticking….we will snap the shackles of the PC past and let localism run free.”

The remainder of the speech mostly comprised rhetoric, with three further references to Stalinism and strong assertions about the UK as a Christian nation and that integration is being undermined by “aggressive securalism”. The only policy announcement of any note was a statement that the Government was going to set up a competition to recognise innovative ways of teaching English to adults.

The Pickles’ speech highlighted the gap in thinking between Labour and the Government on integration. Miliband’s  speech in December 2012 talked about the UK’s successes as well as its integration challenges. It also presented policy solutions for dealing with issues such as poor housing, exploitative gangmasters and the occupational segregation of migrants in some poorly paid sectors of the UK economy – in social care and catering and food processing, for example. Any discussion of policy was absent from the Pickles’ intervention.

While the Pickles’ speech left many wondering about his competency, it came as no surprise to those who had read the Department for Communities and Local Government’s integration strategy of published in February 2012. Today’s speech was very much along the same lines as Creating the Conditions for Integration, last year’s paper.

Creating the Conditions for Integration had been planned for a considerable period of time, but was blocked for many months by Downing Street and other departments concerned by its lack of rigour. When this slender document of 20 pages eventually came out it mostly comprised long lists of existing social policy interventions which could be seen, however tenuously, as bearing on integration: early education, the Pupil Premium so on. In the remaining few pages, there was an uneasy mixture of negative ministerial rhetoric, claiming that “state-sponsored multiculturalism” had failed alongside more balanced official commentary.

As with the Pickles’ speech, there was a great deal that is missing from Creating the Conditions for Integration. Work is a significant driver of integration – we meet and mix with others in the workplace. While some migrant groups have low levels of labour market participation, there was little mention in the integration strategy about occupational segregation or about how the Work Programme should meet the specific needs of migrants who have not faired well in the labour market. Shockingly, no central government programme of work is attached to Creating the Conditions for Integration at all.

Creating the Conditions for Integration appears to be a manifestation of the Government’s ‘localism’ agenda. Ostensibly advanced as a means of giving power back to local communities, many commentators have highlighted its inconsistency. The Coalition Government’s desire to intervene on local issues appears to be as strong as ever – where it wishes – for example, in education. At the same time, localism means that this Government is quite content to wash its hands of difficult or unpopular issues such as migrant integration.

Yet all research about migrant integration – both from the UK and beyond – shows that political leadership is needed to ensure successful programmes to support those migrants who struggle to make their way. National leadership and debate about integration and cohesion make it more likely local political leaders will talk about these issues, however difficult they can be. Where there is clear national leadership, local government and the third sector are more likely to acknowledge the specific needs of migrant communities and mainstream public services adapt to their needs. Where there is national leadership, accompanied by flexibility in public service delivery, genuine local innovation can flourish. This is what real localism is about. It is not the irresponsible wash your hands rhetoric of Eric Pickles.

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  • LB

    How about a simple test.

    You can stay, so long as each migrant pays 11K a year in tax. If its above, you can stay. if its below, you have to go.

    11K is the average government spend per head.

    That way, everyone can be assured that migrants are contributing to the UK government finances and are not a burden on other people, who are paying for them to live in the UK.

    Nice, simple, non racist test.

    It can apply to new migrants, as well as migrants who are already here. No discrimination.

  • John Ruddy

    Pickles isnt small on anything….

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, get out, leech.

    Of course you want to exclude most immigrants, including spouses and children. You distort figures with the billions spent on corporate welfare for your rich, and you ignore the fact that we’d be a pariah country, with little trade (let alone services) outside the UK.

    It’s racist, of course. And of course “migrants” can refer to an arbitrary set…say, anyone who came here after 1900…easily enough.

  • Newsbot9

    “Localism”

    Ah, yes, blaming councils for not being able to do things when he’s destroying their ability to do much beside care for the elderly and pay council tax benefit.

  • Adam

    Its not rocket science or Daily Mail retoric. I fI intended to move to another country and integrate, I’d learn the language. I think the writer of this piece hates the messenger and trys to smear the message becuase of it

  • Patrick

    I bet you’ve got a big chip on your shoulder because your parents were immigrants.

  • Newsbot9

    You lose. So, what exactly were you betting with there?

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, you keep “interpreting” every piece of evidence as evidence for your xenophobic campaign. You’re determined to keep the Other out of your community, and darn the facts! (Then you’ll complain because they won’t “integrate”)

  • Patrick

    Well I’d hardly expect you to it agee. But tell us, why are you so pro immigration? You’ve never explained it.

  • CausticWally

    Not so simple as you’d think LB. Your figure of £11k as the average government spend includes children and retired folk, who are likely to be high net recipients of services but low or zero contributors in terms of tax.

    Migrants are not generally in this group of non-economically active people. With low use of services like schools, health and welfare benefits they are likely to be net contributors to tax revenue even at rates much lower that £11k per annum.

    If you prevent this group of migrants from making their contribution to tax revenues then you will simply be leaving the to be paid for all the school age children, the elderly and infirm to be paid for the rest of who can’t be excluded for immigration reasons, with the end result of higher taxes falling on us.

    I also suspect there’d be a big chunk of at least indirect discrimination in the system you propose, with groups like women and some ethnic minorities who are more likely to be concentrated at low ends of the wages scale, being more likely to be excluded because of lower levels of tax contributions.

    So, all in all a pretty dumb idea!

  • LB

    Not so simple as you’d think LB. Your figure of £11k as the average government spend includes children and retired folk, who are likely to be high net recipients of services but low or zero contributors in terms of tax.

    ===========

    Of course it does.

    Do migrants retire in the UK? yes

    Do migrants have or come with dependents, children and spouse. They consume resources. Why would you exclude that as a cost of migrants to the state and hence to others?

    ===========
    groups like women and some ethnic minorities who are more likely to be concentrated at low ends of the wages scale, being more likely to be excluded because of lower levels of tax contributions.

    ===========

    Would they be excluded? Yes. That’s the whole point. Being at the low level of taxes, they aren’t an economic benefit. That’s the point of excluding them. That means the indigenous low paid get to get on the work ladder. It’s a double win.

    Or are you saying we should import quotas of low paid to get benefits in the UK above their economic contribution? A benefits lottery for the poor of the world perhaps is your idea

    ===========
    If you prevent this group of migrants from making their contribution to tax revenues then you will simply be leaving the to be paid for all the school age children, the elderly and infirm to be paid for the rest of who can’t be excluded for immigration reasons, with the end result of higher taxes falling on us.

    ===========

    The test is, do they pay more tax than they consume in state resources. Whilst they are net contributors they can stay. If they are not net contributors, they should leave. Otherwise other people have to subsidise them, and that is wrong.

    The difference between UK citizens and migrants, is that migrants are optional.

  • CausticWally

    Obviously some migrants have children who are in schools and some stay on until they retire. But this group is more than offset by the group who come in in early adulthood, saving the state the cost of their education, and who then migrate again before they acquire family responsibilities or reach old age. The evidence on this is clear to see – migrants on average, in receipt of average rates of pay, across their lifetime will put in £110 worth of tax revenue for every £100 they draw down in benefits and services. Contrast this with average wage Brits, who across their lifetime receive marginally more in benefits and services than they pay in taxes.

    Have you switched your argument in your last paragraph? You seem to be saying there that the test is only that people pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, which is different from your original position that they hit the threshold of paying £11k in taxes.

    At what point would you would you expel people who have a bit of misfortune and cannot maintain their positive net contribution to taxes. After they have been out of work for one week, one month, or will you give them a year before they get chucked out. Presumably you’d want to act more quickly against anyone who falls seriously ill because they’ll be costing the taxpayer so much more than the merely unemployed.

    How will you police this system? I would imagine you’d need a UK Border Force many times larger than the one we’ve got at present, fully quipped with surveillance powers to keep these pesky immigrants within the radar. All in all your proposal sounds like a perfect vision of hell.

  • LB

    What evidence do you have for your claim of a 10% profit per migrant?

    Why should we accept those making a loss?

    My test is that the migrants should pay more tax than they cost other people.

    Their cost to other people is the amount the state has to pay for them to be here.

    That’s a reasonable test.

    Remember, people receive more than welfare (benefits) from the state.

    Now if you want to get lots of low paid women here, I see nothing wrong with you putting your hand into your own pocket and paying the difference. I see plenty with you allowing the state to do that to other people.

    Policing is easy.

    1. Use HMRC. Tax form at the end of the year. We check the tax paid. You either make up or leave within 3 months. If you are caught after the window, jail/fines and kicked out.

    2. Your employer is bonded to pay the tax. Or you can pay it up front.

    So it uses the existing system. It’s pretty standard for lots of other countries. Makes it cheap.

    It’s non discriminatory. No race involved.

    If you want more immigrants, cut the spending. The threshold goes down.

    On the illness front, they have paid for the insurance haven’t they? Are you saying we shouldn’t pay out on insurance contracts? Ah yes, its the same as pensions isn’t it. The rich pay all the money and then when it comes to paying out on the state’s side of the contract, they won’t pay. All because its a Ponzi fraud.

    As I said, if you want more poor migrants, you can make up the tax for them.

  • Newsbot9

    No, what were you betting? Pay up, or are you a leech?

    And I’m not. I’m pro-Economy. We need free access to markets for services and good. But that’s a distraction, you owe me – pay!

  • CausticWally

    On the fiscal impact of migration you might want to have a look at this report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctpb21/Cpapers/DustmannFrattiniHalls2010.pdf

    The authors summarise their findings thus:

    “A8 immigrants who arrived after EU enlargement in 2004 and who have at least one year of residence, and are therefore legally eligible to claim benefits, are 59 per cent less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits and 57 per cent less likely to live in social housing. Furthermore, even if A8 immigrants had the same demographic characteristics as natives, they would still be 13 per cent less likely to receive benefits and 29 per cent less likely to live in social housing.”

    On your comment that “policing is easy” my only question is why then does the country lose an estimated £30 billion each year from tax evasion? I think the answer must be because policing the system isn’t easy at all.

  • LB

    It doesn’t address the point.

    Why should we have migrants who do not pay more in taxes than the state spends on them?

    If you have people who pay less tax than this, then this means someone else is being made poor to have them here.

    [That ignores the money they send home]

    If you want to reduce tax evasion, make taxes simpler. Make taxes lower.

    However, the government is trying to extract more money, from people who think they are being screwed.

    Take France, they are leaving. 44 bn EUR of assets left French banks last month alone.

    UK,. 16,000 million pound earners a year. Well there used to be. That’s not 6,000. They aren’t going to come back for while. It’s pretty much all legal. They have put the assets off shore into companies. Invested outside the UK. All legal, its EU law. Freedom of movement of capital and people (the migration bit).

    You have to accept the consequences. Migration of poor people, means people in the UK get poorer. Migration of capital means a falling tax base.

    If you carry on spending, and hiding debts off the books, the state goes bust. Greek is a mild version of this.

    I predict the consequence is that we will have violence in France and the UK. Imagine being told, we’ve spent your pension money. You can’t have your pension.

  • CausticWally

    You obviously really loathe the poor LB. If we concede your appalling argument that people’s worth is measured by the revenue they generate for the state it is only a matter of time before you turn to culling the native born hard-up. Your castigation of the rich here is only for show, since you don’t propose a single measure to deal with their transgressions.

    Me, I prefer the poor any day. Like it says on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to be free.” In my book it amongst them that you’ll find the human material to build a truly democratic nation. If it takes a revolution to get there, bring it on.

  • LB

    I’ve looked through the fiscal studies paper.

    The problem is that you’ve still missed the point.

    1. Why should we accept any migrant on benefits? That’s pulling resources from the poor. That’s making the poor poorer.

    2. Even if you don’t claim benefits, welfare, it doesn’t mean that you consume more resources than you pay into the system. So the 13% and 29% are irrelevant. That number should be zero.

  • LB

    No I don’t loathe the poor.

    1. I loathe those on welfare, who can work, not working. The costs to other people and in particular the poor is horrendous.

    2. I really loathe the state. The reason is the state has made the poor poor. I’m not talking about trickle down. I’m talking about taking 430,000 directly from people’s pockets.

    3. Will there be a revolution? Yes. It’s just as likely to be a fascist one as a socialist nirvana like North Korea

  • CausticWally

    Loathe the state? You love the state LB. Go back and read everything you’ve written above. The entirety of your judgements about who’s a good guy and who’s bad hinges on the statist criteria of the tax system. You want HMRC and god knows whatever other state agency state agency you can enlist to get on the job of deciding who can stay and who can go. You suck up the immigration control system as your highest ideal – which s nothing more than the state taking decisions about our right to move across the face of the earth.

    With your outlook I’m surprise you feel negative about the North Korean hell-hole – surely the most efficient state on the planet when it comes to checking up on who is paying taxes, who is worthy of living in its paradise, and who is privileged enough to be allowed to cross its borders.

    Don’t forget to say your prayers to your God the Mighty State before you go to sleep tonight……

  • LB

    Come on, tell us how all that money that poor, middle class and rich have handed over to people like you has been invested.

    How well is that investment doing?

    Ah yes, zero. You’ve spent it.

    Now you owe the pensions, and its only 20p in the pound for what you would have got from the risky FTSE, as you will put it.

    Some risk isn’t it. 19K a year linked to RPI, from 65, or a 5K a year, and benefits and even that won’t be paid.

    So come on, stop trying to dodge the questions. I’m not asking about tax, I’m not asking about North Korea, I’m asking about what you’ve done with people’s pension contributions.

    1. How much do you owe?
    2. How are the investments doing? [Brown was keen on that]
    3. Can you afford to pay what you owe?

    All reasonable questions. You’re trying your hardest to avoid answering them.

    That’s the Bernie Madoff, or Robert Maxwell coming out.

  • LB

    Come on, tell us how all that money that poor, middle class and rich have handed over to people like you has been invested.

    How well is that investment doing?

    Ah yes, zero. You’ve spent it.

    Now you owe the pensions, and its only 20p in the pound for what you would have got from the risky FTSE, as you will put it.

    Some risk isn’t it. 19K a year linked to RPI, from 65, or a 5K a year, and benefits and even that won’t be paid.

    So come on, stop trying to dodge the questions. I’m not asking about tax, I’m not asking about North Korea, I’m asking about what you’ve done with people’s pension contributions.

    1. How much do you owe?
    2. How are the investments doing? [Brown was keen on that]
    3. Can you afford to pay what you owe?

    All reasonable questions. You’re trying your hardest to avoid answering them.

    That’s the Bernie Madoff, or Robert Maxwell coming out.