Thursday, 1 January 2015

What on God's earth is the 'Social Integration Commission'?


OK I checked it out:

The Commission has three main aims:

1) Explore the nature and extent of social contact between people of different ages, ethnicities and social grades

2) Assess the impact of social division on the UK economy and society

3) Make practical and affordable recommendations across key policy areas

We will publish our initial findings in June 2014 and share our recommendations in January 2015.

Not at all sure about all this and it's pretty difficult to find out who set the commission up and for what purpose. After all the word 'commission' is rather quango-esque and implies some sort of government approval or endorsement. Which I guess is why that name was chose by The Challenge who actually set it up.

The Challenge - I know, I know. What, who or how is The Challenge? Apparently it's:

...the UK’s leading integration charity which exists to strengthen communities by bringing people from different walks of life together.

No, I'd never heard of them either. But what I can tell you is that The Challenge doesn't get much income in the regular manner - it had an income slightly north of £27 million and spent just short of £25 million in the year to 31 October 2013. However just £1.88m of that £27m income came from voluntary giving. The remainder of the money is a contract to run the government's National Citizen's Service. This isn't what you or I would understand as a real charity.

So we have a pseudo-charity funding a body set up to look and sound like an official body tasked with a specific policy enquiry. A body chaired by a former advisor to Tony Blair. So the predictable result is this sort of unevidenced opinionating: 

Matthew Taylor, chairman of the Social Integration Commission, said that the increase in faith and free schools is stifling diversity and stopping children from different races and backgrounds mixing.

This may be the case (although my Catholic school was more ethnically diverse than more other schools in the area) but Taylor presents no evidence merely a sort of mushy, neglectful, bien pensant criticism of the government's education policy.

This really is a lesson in how government-funded charities use that position (and the money) to create means to lobby government despite the oft expressed desire of the government to stop this practice. Worse still, the Social Integration Commission presents itself as a semi-official enquiry guaranteeing it coverage- all just a little disingenuous.


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