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Policy Exchange - Boston is the least integrated place in the country

The launch of the Integration Index compares 160 places across England & Wales, with Amersham coming out as the most integrated town in England & Wales

Boston in Lincolnshire is the least integrated place in the country, according to new findings released by the think tank Policy Exchange.

To mark the launch of its new unit on Demography, Immigration and Integration the think tank analysed the most recent Census data (2011), producing a list of the best and worst places in the country from the point of view of integration. 

The publication of the inaugural Integration Index compares 160 places across England and Wales - with a minimum population of 20,000 and a minimum non-White British minority population of 15 per cent. The data examines ‘identity integration’ – how English or Welsh minorities  living in that area feel – and ‘structural integration’ – how well minorities living in that area mix with other ethnic groups (working together, living in the same neighbourhoods). 

The most integrated places are: 

1. Amersham, Buckinghamshire

2. Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands  

3. Loughton, Essex 

4. Potters Bar, Hertfordshire 

5. Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire 

The worst integrated places are: 

1. Boston, Lincolnshire 

2. Wisbech, Cambridgeshire 

3. Oldham

4. Spalding, Lincolnshire 

5. Bradford, Yorkshire 

The Index reveals:
  • The most integrated places—Amersham, Esher, Rickmansworth, Sutton Coldfield—tend to be prosperous suburbs or small towns around London and Birmingham with the largest minorities being successful Indians or Europeans.
  • The least integrated places, by contrast—Oldham, Accrington, Bradford, Boston, Wisbech, Spalding—are either the post-industrial districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire dominated by people of Pakistani heritage or the towns of Eastern England that have experienced large inflows of East Europeans.
  • The most integrated places tend not to have one single large minority group while the worst places invariably have a single group accounting for around two-thirds of the minority population. 
  • Places with high proportions of Muslims tend to have high levels of residential segregation but a strong sense of belonging. They also tend to be among the most deprived.
  • Places like Wisbech, Spalding, and Boston tend to have proportionally high levels of East Europeans who are working but are working separately from the White British majority.
  • The more integrated the place, the greater the share of ethnic minorities in higher paid, managerial jobs.
David Goodhart, Head of Policy Exchange’s Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit, said:  
 
“Ethnic minority integration has shot up the political agenda in recent months and it is useful to know where the biggest challenges and the often quiet success stories actually are.
 
“As our Index shows the integration picture is a mixed one but in some places people, of all backgrounds, fear that society is changing too fast and that too many people are living parallel lives. We know that people of similar backgrounds tend to cluster together but we also know that a good society needs a sense of trust and mutual regard that crosses social and ethnic boundaries.”
 
“It is critical that this country retains its traditions of openness and individual rights and some sense of mutual regard between citizens. That is why the government should try to promote mixed communities.”
 
Notes to editors

 Full table showing the most and least integrates places in England & Wales.

Overall rank

Name

Identity rank

Structure rank

1

Amersham

43

1

2

Sutton Coldfield

1

8

3

Loughton

30

3

4

Potters Bar

25

4

5

Letchworth Garden City

19

6

6

Stretford

5

12

7

Bushey

29

5

8

West Bridgford

12

9

9

Rickmansworth

27

7

10

Esher

82

2

 

 

 

 

10 WORST

     
 

Name

Identity rank

Structure rank

160

Boston

160

152

159

Wisbech

158

147

158

Oldham

41

160

157

Spalding

159

139

156

Bradford

50

158

155

Batley

9

159

154

Halifax

56

154

153

Blackburn

21

157

152

Keighley

28

156

151

Accrington

33

155

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