Launch of the Commission’s final report – From Arrival to Integration: Building communities for refugees and for Britain

20 March 2024

The Commission on the Integration of Refugees publishes its flagship report today calling for a new deal for refugee integration that works for refugees and wider British society. Based on more than two years of in-depth research, our report includes evidence from more than 1,250 stakeholders, policymakers, journalists, academics, and asylum seekers and refugees themselves. As an independent and broad-based body, the Commission offers a unique example of consensus building across political differences in a polarised and heated public debate; and our report launches on the same day debate on the scheme to send refugees to Rwanda continues in Parliament. The Commission’s recommendations are built on robust and wide-ranging evidence, with the voices of those with lived experience at the heart, and have achieved consensus across the political spectrum.

The new report reveals economic modelling developed for the Commission by the London School of Economics (LSE) which found that if just two of the Commission’s recommendations are implemented the benefits outweigh costs within three years, and by the end of year five produce an overall net economic benefit of £1.2 billion. The two recommendations that would deliver this benefit are English language classes provided from arrival and employment support given at six months, alongside the government meeting its target to process asylum applications within six months.

Dr Ed Kessler, Chair of the Commission, said: “Our work over the last couple of years, listening to people from across the country, commissioning research and exploring these issues has provided a rich insight into what is clearly a broken system.  It’s expensive, inefficient and damaging for refugees and Britain.  But amongst the debris were findings that gave us real hope and inspiration for a very different system. One that supports refugees, communities and wider society to thrive.  One that our political leaders can realistically embrace.” 

“From Arrival to Integration: Building communities for refugees and for Britain”, the final report from the Commission, sets out 16 recommendations (5), with several that support refugees and asylum seekers to work, including: 

  • Provide refugees and asylum seekers with access, free of charge, to English Language provision from day one after they arrive in the UK.
  • Recognise qualifications and provide access to further and higher education.
  • Make people in the asylum system eligible for general employment after six months of waiting for their asylum decision.
  • Create a programme of employment support for all refugees and those asylum seekers who are allowed to work.

The Commission also calls for a “new settlement” for refugees, with a total shift of the refugee integration system, away from centrally controlled budgets and decisions, siloed schemes for different groups of refugees and outsourcing to private contractors.  It calls for ‘local integration partnerships’, which would put decision making, delivery and funding in the control of devolved governments, local authorities and communities. 

This recommendation calls for the national government to play a coordinating role, including setting overall numbers, and sets out the need for strong governance and oversight of the whole system. This includes the reinstatement of a UK Refugee Minister, the setting of clear goals and the creation of an independent reviewer of refugee affairs involving people with experience as refugees. 

Starting in June 2022 the Commission on the Integration of Refugees conducted and commissioned six pillars of research, which formed the evidence base for this landmark study: a call for evidence from organisations and individuals with a vast range of experience, including those with lived experience of being a refuge; a review of asylum reform initiatives from 1997-2022; international comparisons of refugee integration practices; eight local engagement hearings around the UK; a quantitative survey of refugees and asylum seekers; and a financial model designed by a team of economists at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).