Community work for immigrants?

According to the Press Assocation, Gordon Brown is going to suggest that migrants should be obliged to carry out community work:

Immigrants should undertake community work before they are granted UK citizenship, Gordon Brown is due to say. The BBC reports that Mr Brown is expected to tell a seminar on Britishness the move would help newcomers settle.

And according to The Independent they will need to prove that they can speak the language:

Spouses hoping to migrate to the UK should face English language tests before being allowed to join their partners, a commission advising the Government has suggested.

I wonder what the 750,000 Britons now living at least part of the year in Spain would make of these suggestions?

Published by Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and

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1 Comment

  1. Gordon Brown is going to say:

    in any national debate on the future of citizenship it is right to
    consider asking men and women seeking citizenship to undertake some
    community work in our country or something akin to that that introduces
    them to a wider range of institutions and people in our country prior
    to enjoying the benefits of citizenship.

    Let’s conflate community work with the current state of formal volunteering ie. giving unpaid help through groups, clubs or organisations to benefit other people or the environment. The government’s 2005 Citizenship Survey notes that white, black and Asian people who are not born in the UK (of which we can say people seeking naturalisation are a subset) volunteer formally only marginally less often than those born in the UK (Active Communities Report, p. 9). Whilst it also concludes that participation in formal volunteer activities correlates with positive sentiments about neighbourhoods, surely a good thing, it says that  there is only no association with formal volunteering and positive views about whether people of different backgrounds in neighbourhoods get on with each other (Cross Cutting Themes Report, p.8). At least on the Citizenship Survey’s conclusions, GB’s proposal seems to be at best passive. Longer term though, I wonder if making volunteering mandatory for citizenship applicants will reduce the level of volunteering in communities of people not born in the UK.

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