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Governance of Migrant Integration in the UK, former Member State

The number of people migrating to former EU Member State The United Kingdom, which withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020, has been greater than that of those emigrating from the kingdom since 1994. Over the last 25 years, both immigration and emigration have increased but immigration exceeds emigration by more than 100 000 every year since 1998.


Foreign population in the UK

On 1 January 2017, 2 465 098 non-EU foreigners were living in the United Kingdom. They represented 4% of the total population, according to the Office for National Statistics. Most came from India, Pakistan and the US.

244 129 had valid short-term residence permits (less than 12 months) and 2 220 969 were long-term residents.  In the year ending March 2017, out of the 57 111 permits issued, 18,933 were for work, 14,473 were for asylum, 5,359 were for family reunification, 18,346 were for other reasons.

There are no statistics available on the overall number of non-EU citizens who have acquired British citizenship.

Integration Strategy

Despite a national interest in the integration of migrants, the UK does not have a national strategy on integration. Since the Localism Act of 2011, the kingdom moved away from a top-down approach and encourages local authorities and Devolved Administrations to determine their own priorities. Wales for example set up its first Refugee Inclusion Strategy in 2008, Scotland published a 4-year strategy The New Scots: Integrating Refugees into Scotland’s Communities in 2014 and  2018, while Northern Ireland does not have any integration strategy.

In 2017, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration published a report  calling on the government to establish a national government strategy for the integration of immigrants and on local government to set up integration action plans. A year later, the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government published the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, followed by a public consultation and the Integrated Communities Action Plan. The Action Plan sets out actions for local social cohesion (not limited only to actions directed towards migrant populations) and assigns responsibilities to various government bodies and other relevant actors. The actions include:

  • supporting new migrants and resident communities
  • boosting English language learning
  • increasing economic opportunities for all

In 2012, the previous government’s Department for Communities and Local Government published Creating the Conditions for Integration. The document set out the Government's approach to achieve a more integrated society and focused on creating conditions, including shared values, social mobility and tolerance, for everyone to live and work successfully alongside each other. This approach is however no longer in line with the current political priorities and related activities are no longer funded.

Available national integration measures currently relate to specific categories of migrants such as refugees and those applying for citizenship. General employment, housing, non-discrimination, service provision, health and community cohesion also contain targeted provisions to meet migrants’ needs.

Integration Programme

The United Kingdom does not have a national integration programme.

☒ language courses

☒ civic education

☒ vocational training

The January 2017 report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration also called on the government to establish an Integration Programme for migrants in the UK.

There are however more than 150 programmes across the UK that are available to assist refugees.


There is no official evaluation of integration policies available in the UK and the latest review of the refugee integration survey was published in 2010.

In July 2015, the then-Prime Minister commissioned a research to take stock and analyse the integration outcomes of different population groups, including people with migration background. The Casey Review into opportunity and integration was published one and a half years later. In 2016, the Scottish Government produced its own report of the impact of migration on its territory.

More recently, the UN agency for refugees published the report The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme which includes an evaluation component.


☑   Foreigners Law

The 2006 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act (NIAA) repealed some sections of the 2002 NIAA. It mainly restricted the right of appeal for refusal of entry clearance for dependents, visitors or students; introduced fines for employers who take on people over the age of 16 who are subject to immigration control; and allowed immigration officers to obtain biometric data and the police to obtain information on passengers and crew of flights and ships arriving in or leaving the United Kingdom.

☑   Asylum Law

The Asylum and Immigration Act of 2004 (Treatment of Claimants) created a single Asylum and Immigration Tribunal to consider all appeals against immigration and asylum decisions. Further appeals to the high court could now only be made on the grounds that the tribunal made an error of law.

Asylum provisions provide that successful refugee applicants would no longer be given indefinite leave to remain but temporary residency of 5 years, during which the situation in their country of origin will be kept under review. It also contained measures to restrict effective appeal rights against refusal of refugee status and to withhold all forms of support from people who were considered not to have lodged their applications at the earliest opportunity.

The Act of 2004 also made provision of accommodation to failed asylum seekers who cannot return home immediately conditional upon the participation in community activities. It further replaced back payments of income support and related benefits to refugees with a loan system.

☒   Integration Law

The UK does not have a self-standing integration law. 

☑   Nationality Law

The British Nationality Act 1948 created the status of "Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies" (CUKC). A similar legislation was passed in most of the other Commonwealth countries. The Act formed the basis of the United Kingdom's nationality law until the British Nationality Act of 1981.

☑   Anti-discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010. It brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. Combined, they provide a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

The 9 main pieces of legislation that have merged are:

  • the Equal Pay Act 1970
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • the Race Relations Act 1976
  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

Public authorities

Responsibility for migrant integration in the UK is shared among:

As reflected in the Localism Act of 2011, the UK believes local communities know their own needs best. Moving away from a top-down approach, it is since then up to Local Authorities and Devolved Administrations to determine local priorities and implement appropriate integration strategies. For the purpose of migrant integration, they are organised into 10 Regional Strategic Migration Partnerships: East of England, East Midlands, London, Scotland, Yorkshire, Northern Ireland, North West, South East, Wales, West Midlands.

In addition, the Government Equalities Office is responsible for the equality strategy, legislation and actions to remove discriminations and build a fairer society.

Civil society

There are no consultative bodies on migrant integration in the UK. There is however an All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration that has previously discussed migrant integration but it is not its primary or sole remit. There is also a consultative All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees that drafts parliamentary and policy briefings, as well as research reports. These Groups include representatives of non-profit organisations.

The integration 2018 Integrated Communities Green Paper established a new Cohesion and Integration Network which is currently recruiting funding members to share their ideas and good practices with integration experts, policy makers and practitioners. 


 EU Funds

Non-profit organisations and local authorities can apply for financing through several EU funds. In addition, national and private funds are made available for service providers and other stakeholders to carry out projects aiming for a better integration of the migrant population.

  • Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in the UK


The total allocation to the UK under AMIF amounts to € 538,232,236. In terms of integration, the national AMIF programme provisions support for beneficiaries of international protection, including resettled persons, as well as the measures encouraging the involvement of the host society in the integration process

National managing authority 

The national managing authority for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in the UK is the UK’s Home Office.

  • European Social Fund (ESF) in the UK


The ESF provides funds to the UK on a number of Operational Programmes. In terms of inclusion, the ESF provides funds under the England Operational Programme, the Northern Ireland Operational Programme, the Scottish Operational Programme, the East Wales Operational Programme, and the West Wales and The Valleys Operational Programme. Across all programmes and priorities, including the one for Gibraltar, the ESF provides over € 4.7 billion to the UK.

National managing authority 

The national managing authorities for the European Social Fund (ESF) in the UK include:

            The ESF Division, Department for Work and Pensions for England

            The Department for Employment and Learning for Northern Ireland               

            The Scottish Government - European Structural Funds Division for Scotland

            The Welsh European Funding Office for East Wales, and West Wales and the Valleys

            The EU Programmes Secretariat, HM Government of Gibraltar for Gibraltar

  • Other EU funds for integration available in the UK

ERASMUS+, the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe

National managing authority: The UK National Agency for Erasmus+

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the EU by correcting regional imbalances

Information about the ERDF in the UK is available on the UK government website, as well as this guide on the use of ERDF and ESF. The national managing authorities for ERDF include:

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for England

The Scottish Government for Scotland

The Welsh Government for Wales  

The Department for Economy for Northern Ireland

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), offering material assistance to the most vulnerable or in need

National managing authority: The UK Department for Education, School Food Unit

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), supporting the development of rural economies and communities

National managing authority: The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which supports coastal communities in diversifying their economies and finances projects that create jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts

National managing authority: The UK Managing Autority (UKMA)

 Other Funds

  • Other public funding in the UK

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), with funds available to England only 

  • Private funding in the UK

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Comic Relief

The Big Lottery

Unbound Philanthropy

Other stakeholders

☑   Providing integration services

☒   Implementing Integration Programme

☑   Campaigning

☑   Publishing research