border460As being reported on the BBC website, the population of the UK is expected to increase from 61m to 71.6m by 2033, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). As it states, just over two-thirds of this increase is expected to be related directly or indirectly to migration to the UK.

If the projected increase materialises, the population will have grown at its fastest rate in a century: by more than 10m in the 24 years between 2008 and 2029, less than half the time it took to rise from 50m to 60m between 1948 and 2005.

It is interesting that this story has broke today given the launch yesterday of the West Midlands Regional Observatory’s (WMRO) ‘Thematic Dialogue’ policy reports. Having written a short policy-based ‘think-piece’ for the report entitled, ‘The West Midlands’ Changing Population’, I note that:

Emergent and projected population changes are therefore significantly different to those that have gone before, distinguished by a more fluid interplay of variables among increased numbers of new, small and scattered, multiple-origin, socio-economically differentiated and legally stratified communities. No longer will it be possible to categorise diversity simplistically, rendering the use of factors such as ethnicity alone somewhat meaningless. Within the super-diversity that will characterise the region, policymakers and service providers will need to consider language, regional and local identities, cultural values and practices as well as other potentially more challenging and problematic factors that include migration route, means of arrival, legal status and access to employment.

I go on:

For policymakers and service providers, it is important that whilst tackling inequalities and discrimination will be key, the complexity of influences on cohesion – a resonant byword for ‘ensuring people of different backgrounds get on better together’ – means that it will be necessary for them to address multiple issues at the same time, particularly in terms of migration. At present, there exists little evidence that relations between migrants and established groups currently form an integral part of any mainstream policy agenda. In the very least, this anomaly will need to be addressed because even within community cohesion policies, rarely is there a targeted strategy for promoting good relations with new migrants.

Given the headlines, it would seem that the issue of migration will continue to be a pertinent one. But more importantly, one that reluctant policymakers will need to address head-on.

To download the WMRO report, click here.

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