Birmingham is on track to become the UK’s most multicultural city, with more than half of the population from an ethnic minority by 2021. It’s predicted white Brits will soon be outnumbered in the Midlands city.
Nearly 50,000 people in the city cannot speak English and there are thought to be residents from nearly 200 countries living in the city, according to the Community Cohesion Strategy for Birmingham green paper. It describes the city as “super diverse”.
Green Papers are consultation documents, in this case produced by the Birmingham City Council (BCC). The aim of a green paper allows people both inside and outside the government to provide the feedback on policy or legislative proposals.
The report, tabled before the BCC cabinet on Tuesday, recognizes trade links and other benefits of such a multicultural city, but Birmingham’s multitude of cultures has also been identified as major factor in social segregation and a source of community “tension”.
According to the 2011 census, 42.1 per cent of people in Birmingham classified themselves as non-white British; an increase of 12 per cent when compared with the 2001 survey. If the figures continue to rise at the same rate, projections indicate that more than half of the city’s 1.2 million-plus population will be from an ethnic minority.
“Birmingham is soon to become a majority minority city,” the green paper states. The report also identifies the issue that, in areas where there is a ‘high concentration’ of minorities, ethnic groups are more disadvantaged – particularly black or Asian communities.
BCC Equalities chief, Councilor Tristan Chatfield, said that Birmingham can pave the way ahead of other UK cities in tackling the issues at hand. “Birmingham faces a number of difficult social issues that have an impact on cohesion; whilst these are not unique to our city, we cannot assume that national government policy will address them,” he said.
“These are complex challenges and they are also rapidly evolving. Collectively, Birmingham should lead by example in challenging anything that prevents our citizens from reaching their full potential, including discrimination, poverty, segregation or a lack of ambition.”
The green paper was tabled before the BCC cabinet on Tuesday and approved. The strategy will now go out to public consultation.
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