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“The idea of being bothered about immigration made me laugh! I’m from Birmingham. It’s never been a concern of mine. I can’t imagine caring about someone else being born in a difference place to me. (Black British born female participant).”
The Runnymede Trust has launched a new report about British ethnic minorities’ views on immigration and Europe. The publication entitled ‘This is Still About Us – Why Ethnic Minorities See Immigration Differently’ used high-sample surveys and focus groups across several different areas of the country to gauge opinion.


Produced by the UK’s leading independent thinktank on race equality and race relations, its findings show:



  • Immigration is seen more positively by BME groups, because they focus on the economic and cultural contributions an immigrant can make to British life.
  • BME people are more likely to feel that the public debate around immigration negatively impacts on them personally, even if they or their parents were born in Britain;
  • They feel sometimes they need to ‘prove’ they are British;
  • Most broadly share concerns of the wider population around the pace of immigration, but they are more worried about the pressure on services than on cultural impact;
  • Participants were more ambivalent about Europe and are less likely to take advantage of free movement within EU borders;
  • People were more concerned about Britain being a ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants;
  • BME people are more likely to be concerned about the impact of benefit cuts on immigrant families;
  • On citizenship and the immigration system, BME groups are more likely to be concerned about the cost of the citizenship process, family visa policies and Home Office responses to immigration queries;
  • There were variations between different BME groups: Long-settled communities were more likely to believe newer migrants had easier experiences;
  • BME people are more likely to view Europe in explicitly ethnic or racial terms.


You can read the full report here.

IPPR’s report , “Definancialisation a democratic reformation of finance”, sets out an ambitious agenda for ‘definancialisation’, for rolling back the “socially useless aspects of modern finance” and advancing both its productive potential and the democratic interest over its activities and objectives.


Financialisation – the “increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies” – is arguably the most important structural change in British capitalism in the last 30 years. The rise in the scale, scope and profitability of financial activity relative to the size of the UK’s economy in this period is well-known. For example, the balance sheet of the UK banking sector grew from 40 per cent of GDP in 1960 to 450 per cent in 2010. The consequences of financialisation more broadly, both positive and negative, are also well understood.


According to the report the financial implosion of 2007–08 should have been used as a “provocation to rearrange the place of finance in our economic lives”. Instead, six years on from a financial crash that cost British society the equivalent sum of fighting a major war, too little has changed. Financial crisis has ossified into relative political stasis. Contemporary policy debates are either inadequate or focus on treating the consequences of our financial system rather than changing its underlying structures.


In this report IPPR argue for structural reform to address the deeper institutional arrangements that underpin financialisation. The report says that by doing so, its recommendations should help to build a financial system that operates without public subsidy (the ‘bailouts’), where rent-seeking is limited, and where the relationship between finance and production is substantially tightened.


IPPR set out two principles for this programme of reform:

  • The financial system is a vital utility and the flow of credit to the real economy an essential public good which should be guided by and made accountable to democratic institutions. However, this does not mean it believes rigid, explicit targets should be set. Rather, an overarching framework should be established to ensure that credit is better directed into expanding the productive capacity of the economy.
  • It believes that there are limits to regulation, necessary though it is. This will require building or reforming institutions, both public and private, that are better able to create and sustain equitably shared growth.


These principles lead to three broad objectives:


  1. Targeting credit at the productive economy – principally by giving the Bank of England the mandate to monitor and guide credit creation and flow
  2. Reassert the public interest in the financial system
    1. Establish a Monetary Commission to investigate the UK’s monetary system
    2. Strengthen equity ratio requirements to remove the implicit public subsidy to banks
    3. Create a Financial Product Board to approve new UK-traded financial products
    4. Establish an EU credit-ratings agency funded by the financial transaction tax
  3. Invest the gains of financialisation to help fund public expenditure – by establishing a national wealth fund that is able to accumulate some of the gains of financialisation and support the country’s long-term service and investment needs.

According to a new report by British Future the public strongly support international student migration because they understand the economic and educational benefits brought to Britain by those who come here to study.   The report draws on the results of a nationally representative poll by ICM of 2,111 people, as well as the feedback from six workshops held in York, Bristol and Nottingham. It reveals that:


  • 59% of the public believe the Government should not reduce international student numbers, even if that limits the Government’s ability to cut immigration numbers overall. Only 22% take the opposing view.
  • 60% think that international students bring money into their local economy. Only 12% think they take money out.
  • 61% agree that Britain’s universities would have less funding to invest in top-quality facilities and teaching without the higher fees paid by international students. Only 7% disagree.
  • 75% believe that international students should be allowed to stay and work in Britain after graduating from British universities, using their skills for the benefit of our economy, for at least a period of time.
  • Only 22% think that international students should count as migrants. Most people did not understand why they would be counted towards the Government’s immigration targets.


Based on public opinion, the report recommends that the government should remove international students from any net migration target. This should coincide with the launch of an international student growth strategy, backed by investment, to promote British universities overseas, build new international partnerships and attract more international students to Britain.


The report also argues that the Government should make a renewed effort to communicate a consistent message that Britain welcomes international students, and should enhance opportunities for qualified international graduates to stay in the UK to work and contribute to the economy.


Read the full report by British Future, International students and the UK immigration debate.

“Restoring the Balance: Tackling problem debt”, a Centre for Social Justice report, found that two million people are driven to high-cost credit every year because it is the only loan they can get. A network of new Community Banks should be created across the country as an alternative to high cost credit driving millions of people into problem debt, according to a major new report.


The report builds on the debt work the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) did in its landmark publication Breakthrough Britain, which Prime Minister David Cameron recently singled out has having a major influence on his Government. And it comes just days after plans were announced to cap the amount of interest payday lenders can charge – a move criticised by the CSJ, which argues that it could add to the 300,000 people already going to loan sharks.


The report’s major findings and suggestions include:

∙ Cut red tape to create new Community Banks for cheaper loans and banking facilities
∙ More than 300,000 people in the UK are too poor to go bankrupt because they cannot afford the £525 fee
· 8 million British households have no savings – one of the lowest savings rates in the EU
· Employers should help staff save with new auto enrolment scheme
· Recent payday loan cap could push thousands to loan sharks


Household debt in the UK has almost doubled in a decade to £1.44 trillion and around seven million people use high-cost credit, such as payday loans. The study says problem debt drives poverty and a range of entrenched social problems.


Almost half of people with unmanageable debt report that it impacts on their health. One survey suggested that a third of the 1.5 million debt advice clients has attempted or contemplated suicide. Three quarters also say their relationships have suffered as a result of debt, with one quarter saying their relationships ended completely.


Christian Guy, CSJ Director said, “there is a growing group of people under intense pressure as a result of problem debt.” 


“This debt rips into families and traps people on the edges of our society…people in poorer communities are effectively excluded from mainstream banking – hit hard by punitive fees, penalties and crippling debt.”


Red tape holding back successful credit unions should be torn up so that they can be reborn as ethical Community banks offering more stable loans and banking services at cheaper rates and on better terms.


This is part of a major package of personal debt reforms put forward today by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) that will bring fairer banking to Britain’s poorest communities and challenge the monopoly of mainstream banks and payday lenders.


Credit unions currently serve more than a million customers lending a total of £600 million. Because of current regulations, however, unions are limited and often unable to serve the poorest in society who would most benefit from them.


But with reform and the transformation of the bigger and best managed unions into Community Banks, they could potentially help up to eight million people in a market worth as much as £3.5 billion.


One major benefit is these new Community Banks would be able to offer smaller loans commonly handed out by payday lenders, but with much lower interest rates and better conditions.


To do this the CSJ wants to see a number of credit union regulations stripped back. This includes relaxing membership rules, removing interest rate caps for small loans and allowing them to invest members’ deposits to generate income.


The Community Bank status will only be available to select credit unions who have been run well and would benefit from operating on a larger scale. The CSJ estimates there would be around a dozen of these banks across the country initially.


Researchers say the package – which includes using peer-to-peer social investment to help expand community finance – would help many of the two million people every year who turn to high-cost credit.

A Financial Inclusion report by the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM), which is part of the University of Birmingham, found that nearly a quarter of people would be unable to find £200 in an emergency. One in six said they would have to borrow the cash, with a further 8 per cent saying they simply could not pay.


The report finds those at the top of the pile have seen a marked improvement in their financial situations, but things are getting worse for people at the bottom.  Most people still have to cut back on their spending.  Despite rising employment, earnings remain low.


In an article in today’s Independent, Karen Rowlingson, professor of social policy at the University of Birmingham, is quoted as saying: “We are experiencing a three-speed recovery.  A lucky minority at the top are steaming ahead, benefiting from the current low interest rates and the return to growth to increase their savings. Those at the bottom are going into reverse, really struggling and getting further into debt.”


The report showed that almost a quarter of the population are owing more than they have in savings and nearly one in five people with debt say it’s a “heavy burden”.


You can read the full report by using the following link; “Financial Inclusion: Annual Monitoring Report 2014” 


In recent decades the dominant assumption among foundations has been that the main role of foundations is grant-making, supporting existing organisations or operating their own programmes. Indeed, many foundations prefer not to impose their values and goals on society or appear to add competition among existing voluntary organisations.


In reality, however, many foundations have chosen to create new organisations in order to achieve their goals in pursuit of social change. Beyond their inherent role, foundations choose to act as ‘institutional entrepreneurs’ involved in the conception of something new which the foundation backs financially and supports in other ways.


The ‘inventive foundation’ is the subject of a new pan-European study by Diana Leat, supported by Barrow Cadbury Trust, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. This study examines nine examples of foundation generated organisations of varying size and purpose across Europe and intelligently explores the fears, trepidations, challenges and opportunities of foundations in acting as social entrepreneurs.


The short report argues that foundations, with their knowledge, networks and resources, are well positioned as institutional entrepreneurs and reveals why foundations decide to create new organisations, the processes and the issues arising in this activity in a range of different settings across Europe. The nine case studies included are each based in different countries with differently developed non-profit sectors, are engaged in different fields of activity, and have generated different types of organisations.


While there has been much discussion over the years on ‘venture philanthropy’, this study instead focuses on the neglected topic of the venture entrepreneur and the importance of the role of foundations as ‘mother’, ‘father’ and ‘midwife’ to an organisation. It is a useful piece in highlighting some of the issues foundations may wish to consider should they decide to create their own organisation or institution and raises further issues on the role of foundations in civil society and their relationship with partners. The full report, ‘The Inventive Foundation: creating new ventures in Europe’, is available to read here.

IPPR’s ‘Purchasing Power’ report states that living standards of households in the UK have fallen over the last six years due to a combination of exceptionally low increases in wages and larger increases in prices. Substantial rises in the price of essentials, including energy, public transport and childcare, have been a particular problem for some families, with those on the lowest incomes feeling the biggest squeeze.


Consumers are trying to fight back. The internet has facilitated websites that compare prices and the quality of goods and services, making it easier for consumers to make the right decisions.


But some markets are so complex that they require special analysis and regulation. In this paper, IPPR consider four such markets:

  • energy
  • public transport
  • childcare
  • housing.


Making markets more competitive – such as increasing consumer information and banning practices designed to exploit consumers – is the best approach for many consumer markets. But complex markets require more innovative solutions. This is about finding alternative ways of achieving the best deal for consumers.

A new IPPR report, titled “Fair Share” presents the argument for rolling out models of ‘shared capitalism’ that give all workers a claim on the collectively created successes of their workplace.
The UK has one of the worst records in Europe for formally empowering employees in decision-making at work. This represents an economic challenge as much as an ethical concern: stark hierarchies of power, esteem and reward at work underpin the UK’s poor productivity rates and hold back the wider economy, as well as making too many people’s experience of work insecure and lacking in dignity and autonomy.


This report addresses this widespread employee disempowerment, and the UK’s over-reliance on a low productivity, low wage economic model, by exploring how better use can be made of employees’ skills and talents. Institutional reform could help build on the UK economy’s strengths to create more productive, dynamic companies that more equitably distribute reward.

Asylum Aid today publishes its new report ‘Dividing Lines: Asylum, the media and some reasons for (cautious) optimism’.


Dividing Lines looks back at ten years of hostile media coverage of asylum and refugee issues, and asks how we might move onto a more positive and progressive public debate. Asylum Aid argues that “with the quantity of hostile stories falling away, and heat coming out of the way asylum is covered in the media, it is time to work more closely and cannily with journalists and editors than ever before”.


Follow the link to the ‘Dividing Lines: Asylum, the media and some reasons for (cautious) optimism’ report

In advance of the lifting of EU working restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants on 1 January, IPPR’s new report explores the possible effect of this change and outlines recommendations for the government to reduce the strain on public services.


Since it was announced, the upcoming change to the working rights of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants has resulted in great public anxiety surrounding additional pressures on the labour market and public services.


In Transition, released today, points out that there are key differences between the changes that will come on place on 1 January, and those of 2004, when eight states joined the EU and tens of thousands of people migrated to the UK each year. These differences are that Romanians and Bulgarians have been able to move to the UK for work since 2007 and that alongside the UK, other EU member states will be opening their labour markets at the same time.


The report states that the new A2 migration flows are likely to result in an increase in demand housing and public services. Authors Alex Glennie and Jenny Pennington also state that there are specific issues that will need to be tackled and the national and local level such as the exploitation of Romanian and Bulgarian workers and the integration of Roma migrants.


The research outlines a number of recommendation for identifying the local impact of new Romanian and Bulgarian migrants as well as support for managing these changes. Amongst the recommendations is the formation of a cabinet-level committee on the Impact of EU Migration and the re-establishment of a fund to address the local challenges that come from increased migration.


The full report can be read here.