Last Thursday saw the launch of the Bristol City Office, an idea that has been six years in the making. It’s an idea that seeks to address some of the challenges faced by the public sector, with ever decreasing budgets and reducing powers. It’s about partnership and collaborative governance, bringing organisations, individuals and budgets together to tackle the issues that we have failed to tackle before, where collaboration and joint working are essential, alongside the willingness to be creative and innovative. But why will this approach work when other attempts have failed and how is this different?
European non-discrimination law is a great example of how legal ideas travel around the globe and are modified and improved in the process.
For example, the concept of indirect discrimination can be traced back to international law and was also pioneered in the US case of Griggs v Duke Power, which challenged under the Civil Rights Act 1964 employment practices that required High School diplomas in order to access specific jobs.
This US legal development then inspired European Common Law jurisdictions—most notably the UK—to incorporate similar concepts in their national law (see e.g. Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Race Relations Act 1976), and the concept of indirect discrimination finally reached the EU in the early 1980s when the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) explicitly referred to the Griggs in its Jenkins Judgment, a case which also originated in the UK.
However, this initial influence from the UK and other common law jurisdictions did not halt in this development. Rather, what started as a relatively insignificant equal pay provision in the Treaty of Rome (Article 119 EEC) and a political compromise between Germany and France,has developed into a large equality framework protecting the characteristics of sex, race and ethnic origin, religion and belief, age, disability, and sexual orientation (e.g. Directives 2000/43, 2000/78 and 2006/64) and goes beyond employment discrimination by also tackling sex and race discrimination within the access to and supply of goods and services (Directives 2000/43 and 2000/113).
The 2000 directives expanding the personal scope of EU non-discrimination law were particularly affected by Anglo-Dutch intellectual thought and influence, as jurisdictions that had most significant experience with non-discrimination law covering a wide number of protected characteristics. These new directives, alongside the CJEU interpretation of all the directives and equal pay provision (now Article 157 TFEU), then in turn influenced the law of the Member States including the UK legal framework.
Around a quarter of British Indian Sikhs, and half of British Pakistani Muslims have a spouse who migrated to the UK as an adult, making these two of the largest British ethnic groups involved in this kind of transnational marriage.
In recent years, such marriages have increasingly been seen as an obstacle to integration – with suggested implications ranging from poverty to lack of attachment to the UK, and persistent gender inequality. In Britain, as in some other European countries, the demands of integration now also feature in justification for restrictions on spousal immigration, such as the income requirement for sponsors introduced in 2012.
It is surprising to many to learn that the empirical research on relationships between marriage migration and integration has actually been rather limited, and has produced varying results.
The prime minister, David Cameron, has launched a number of measures aimed at improving integration among Muslims – in particular, Muslim women – in the UK. Polls show that around 70% of people don’t think Muslims are well integrated into British society and concern that Muslim people living in Britain do not feel British has long been part of broader discussions around extremism.
So, now seems like a good time to take a closer look at how British Muslims actually feel about their place in society and to explore the link between segregation and extremism in greater depth. Along with Professor James Nazroo, I conducted research into these issues using nationally representative data, collected in 2008/09 from almost 5,000 people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds, as a part of the Home Office Citizenship Survey. We found that these ideas about British Muslims are not backed up by evidence.
The emphasis of this post is a bit of a departure from my normal topics, but related in a number of different ways to issues about housing, homelessness and social mobility. It has come about as a result of a number of things that have influenced me over the last few weeks. Some of those influences have been comments made in talks and discussions, whilst others have been the result of me opening my eyes and seeing what is around me. All too frequently we walk around the places we are familiar with without seeing what is right in front of us, without thinking about why something is the way it is.
In the last couple of months I have been to a whole load of talks about housing, mental health, health and wellbeing, social mobility and inequalities. I’ll write elsewhere about some of the consistent policy strands that came through many of these talks, but my focus here is on homelessness and social ‘immobility’.
There is a perception held widely in society that Muslim people living in Britain do not feel British. Comments by David Cameron and others, for example, describe a need to address the lack of integration and sense of Britishness among Muslims. As well as addressing more general concerns, this focus on integration is seen as a solution to the apparent terrorist threat, both by avoiding young people becoming radicalized and ensuring that those who are becoming radicalized are not protected by their supposedly geographically- and socially-segregated communities (see The Independent).
However, this attitude has developed without any empirical evidence. I have carried out some empirical work into these issues, using quantitative data from the nationally-representative Home Office Citizenship Survey. This indicates that in fact 90% of Muslims, and Hindus, Sikhs and ethnic minority Christians who live in this country report a strong sense of personal belonging to Britain. Indeed, Muslims (with a variety of ethnicities) were more likely to report feeling British than Caribbean Christians. These findings directly contradict the perceived ‘desires’ of British Muslims to live in segregated communities.
The 2008 financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures have seen the most sustained decline in household incomes since the 1930s. In this post, Eldin Fahmy examines their impacts on public perceptions of minimally adequate living standards, and on the extent of deprivation. Based upon analysis of survey data for 1999 and 2012, it seems that as households have been forced to ‘tighten their belts’, perceptions of minimum living standards have become less generous. At the same time the extent of deprivation has increased dramatically.
The 2012 UK Poverty and Social Exclusion survey (2012-PSE) is the latest and most comprehensive in a series of household surveys conducted since the early 1980s adopting a ‘consensual’ approach to poverty which reflect public views on minimally adequate living standards. Since our last survey in Britain in 1999, public perceptions of what constitute the ‘necessities of life’ have become less generous. Nevertheless, the proportion of adults in Britain deprived of these necessities has increased substantially since 1999.
Esther Dermott examines the relationship between gender, age and living arrangements in Britain over the period of 1999-2012. Her analysis finds that older women have gone from being one of the poorest groups to being relatively advantaged. Meanwhile, men living alone are an emerging poor group in Britain.
As we approached the new millennium, the relationship between gender and poverty was clear – being a woman in Britain meant you were more likely to be poor. In 1999 the Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) survey found a significant 6 per cent gap between poverty rates for men and women in Britain. But just over a decade later this gap had almost disappeared; the 2012 results showed a non-significant difference between men and women’s levels of poverty.