The United Kingdom consists of a multiethnic population with a significant share of migrants (13.8%: IOM 2020b; Vargas-Silva & Rienzo 2019). An estimated 39% of these migrants come from countries in the European Union. Over centuries of the UK’s history, the population has been transformed through invasions, wars, migration, and colonial expansion. Today, the UK is home to people from hundreds of nationalities speaking English and multiple other languages. Most of the ethnic migrants are from former British colonies who immigrated since the decolonisation of Asia and Africa. The demographic transformation of the UK society and the concomitant ethnic diversity has led to periodic debates on race relations and ethnic inequality from the 1960s onwards. These as well as related socio-cultural and political discourse within the country continue to raise robust debates on multiculturalism and interculturalism.
There has been no official multicultural policy in the UK while multiculturalism exists as a demographic reality (Tolley 2011). The Race Relations Act of 1965 affirms the protection of minorities from discrimination while policies ensuring the inclusion of minorities in education and media representation exist to some extent. Sometimes, there have been occasional funding programs towards ethnic organisations and activities. Contemporary discourse on religious and cultural diversity in the UK is geared towards social cohesion, interculturalism and the integration of migrants.
The UK has achieved an overall ICDI score of 0.713 and has one of the highest scores in the anti-discrimination component. Moreover, the UK achieved above 0.70 for across components including fractionalisation, (in)equality, cohesion and stability, attitudes, and freedom and rights, signalling that there are political and legal provisions, which facilitate intercultural contact and dialogue among different groups. In contrast, a steep low score for the component of social contact indicates that there are low levels of cultural participation, along with low numbers of living indigenous and immigrant languages.
Current Situation and Outlook
Compared to its positive positioning in terms of legislative and opportunities dimensions, the UK has achieved relatively lower scores in components of the structural dimensions. These lower scores are related to possibilities and opportunities for intergroup contact and levels of equality, indicating that migrant populations could be disproportionately concentrated across the UK. The ICDI scores could improve if there are increased platforms for social contact through promotions of inter-cultural participation. Combined efforts towards improving access to communication and increased minority representation can also contribute to an improved ICDI score for the UK.