Commission on the Integration of Refugees

The availability, quality, location, and security of accommodation has been shown to have a direct effect on people’s ability to integrate. The current piecemeal approach to accommodation is expensive, inefficient, and detrimental to integration outcomes. The movement of people from place to place and the reliance on temporary accommodation negatively impacts upon people’s ability to integrate. Immigration detention should only be used as a last resort.

Commission on the Integration of Refugees

The Commission on the integration of Refugees was convened and funded by the Woolf Institute to run from September 2022 to December 2023. The Commission was led by a number of community leaders, professionals and academics from across civil society and the public sector, including individuals with lived experience – Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Migrants & Refugees, also formed part of the Commission.

The Commission recognises that the UK asylum system is broken – it is noted to be expensive, ineffective and harmful. The Commission has proposed a number of solutions that would be more compassionate and fairer for asylum seekers and refugees, upholding their human dignity whilst of economic benefit to the UK.

The Commission produced a total of 6 reports, the final of which is titled From Arrival to Integration: Building Communities for Refugees and for Britain. In this final report the Commission have included a number of recommendations, including those for new and more community-oriented approach to asylum accommodation. The recommendations are as follows:

  1. To develop a new comprehensive resettlement scheme, drawing on the successes of Community Sponsorship and the Homes for Ukraine scheme, to be coordinated nationally and administered through local integration partnerships.
  2. To deliver housing through local integration partnerships, led by local authorities, with some properties reserved for refugees and asylum seekers. This would ensure central government and independent sector resources are invested in the expansion of accommodation in communities, thereby benefitting the whole population and channelling funding to local councils instead of private contractors.
  3. To extend the move-on period for those granted refugee status from 28 days to 56 days. This would reduce the likelihood of homelessness and pressure on local authorities, whilst bringing the policy into line with existing homelessness regulations.
  4. Community accommodation should be the default for asylum seekers and refugees as it upholds the dignity of individuals and allows for better integration – detention should only be used as a last resort and as a precursor to rapid removal where genuine absconding and/or security risks cannot otherwise be managed. It is noted that integration-based approaches are cheaper and more successful.
  5. To avoid moving refugees and asylum seekers to different accommodation following their initial placement, without their consent, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Repeated relocations negatively impact individuals’ integration and is particularly harmful for children’s education.