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Durham University

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account

Reforming the Life in the UK test

The Life in the United Kingdom citizenship test is a requirement for permanent residency in the UK and British citizenship. Over 1 million tests have been sat since its launch in 2005 and three editions have been published since. Professor Thom Brooks has been influential in campaigning for reforms.

"Life in the UK" test is like "a bad pub quiz"

Thom Brooks published the only comprehensive report into the Life in the UK test. The report exposed serious problems in its design, format and content concluding that the test was ‘unfit for purpose’. Problems included its being impractical, omitting some key information like how to contact emergency services, gender imbalance and its being outdated. Thom provided 12 recommendations about how it could be improved.

Support for the Report

The report was launched in June 2013 in Durham Castle and endorsed by Lord Roberts of Llandudno, the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration.

The report and Thom's work on the UK citizenship test have been discussed at least half a dozen times in Parliamentary debates. The report was covered in 300+ news media including all major UK papers and featured in BBC 2’s Mock the Week and the USA’s Comedy Central.

Becoming British

Thom has published a book, Becoming British, with Biteback publishing. The book explores how to test for ‘Britishness’ and how to tackle EU ‘free movement’. The aim of the book is to look into how immigration in the UK works and it begins a debate abouthow it should work.

Influencing Policy and Public Debate

Thom regularly advises the Labour Party on immigration policy, including Britain’s response to the EU migration crisis, the Dublin Regulation III process on asylum seekers, the Calais crisis and the Immigration Act 2016. He has produced columns for publications on the left (Fabian Review, LabourList, New Statesman, Progress Online), the right (Bright Blue’s Centre Write) and mainstream newspapers (The Journal, Northern Echo). He has been interviewed by television or radio including ABC News 24 (Australia), BBC News, BBC One, BBC Two Newsnight, BBC Radio 4 (including interviewed by Andrew Marr), BBC 5 Live, CNN, ITV News, Sky News (including twice with Kay Burley), Al Jazeera and many others.