The U.K. should set a target date for “everybody in the country” to speak English as a way to boost integration, a former government adviser said Monday.
Louise Casey, who wrote a report for the government on integration in 2016, told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour that “big bold policies” such as ensuring a common language could help “heal some of the rifts” across the country, and criticized the government for not taking enough action since the publication of her report. Her comments come as the British government is due to publish its Integrated Communities Strategy this week.
“Everybody of working age and of school age should be able to speak one language, and I think the public in particular would feel some relief,” Casey said.
Casey’s 2016 report promoted English skills as a “strong enabler of integration” and proposed providing local governments with additional funding for community-based classes.
In the interview, Casey argued that integration should be one of the U.K.’s “most significant priorities,” and said further delays to the implementation of her strategy would be “incredibly frustrating.”
Mark Harper, a former immigration minister, welcomed her suggestions and said there are areas in the country where people cannot speak English.
“I think the recommendations she has made are very powerful, and I hope the government produces an ambitious strategy,” Harper said.