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Bright Blue has responded to the PM’s announcement of £20 million funding to provide more English language classes to combat social isolation.

Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, said:

“The Prime Minister is right to introduce stronger incentives for migrants to learn English. Being able to understand and speak English is critical to interacting with the community and securing employment. In particular, women are often at the forefront of social integration by taking their children to key universal institutions such as Children’s Centres, nurseries and primary schools, so it’s right that there is a focus on ensuring they can speak English.

“But the government could go further. It could make the receipt of all benefits – not just out-of-work benefits – conditional on all adults in a households having a recognised English language qualification, or at least working to obtain one.

“New funding for people to participate in English language classes is welcome. But there has been a significant reduction in funding for such courses since the start of the Coalition Government. If all migrants are to learn English, all should be able to afford the course: that means ensuring they can access income-contingent student loans if they need to.”

Last year, Bright Blue published a major research project entitled A balanced centre-right agenda on immigration, which included A Manifesto for immigration. The following two policy recommendations were recommended in this report:

  1. The government should stipulate that all claimants need to demonstrate that they can speak English by having an approved qualification, or are enrolled on a viable course to gain an approved qualification in English language, to receive any form of benefits.
  2. The government should extend the income-contingent loan system to all migrants paying for an approved English Language course.

Last year, Bright Blue also produced a report examining how to promote more diverse social networks for disadvantaged people from ethnic minority groups, showing women are at the forefront of social integration by sending their children to key universal services such as nurseries and primary schools.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For further media enquiries, please contact our Communications Manager of Bright Blue, Laura Round, on laura@brightblue.org.uk or 07543759844.