Progressive council points the way to fairness

The Islington Fairness Commission shows there are concrete things we can do on our own patch to try to close the gap between the rich and poor.

Islington Town Hall

My mum’s a Scouser, and proud, so I was delighted yesterday to be up in Liverpool Town Hall, meeting with the new Liverpool Fairness Commission. They sound like they mean business when it comes to tackling the poverty that scars their city and leaves it the most deprived local authority in England.

In York, similarly, the Labour Council is establishing a Fairness Commission to figure out how to narrow the divide between the haves and the have-nots there. The word on the local government grapevine is of other possible Fairness Commissions cropping up elsewhere as well, particularly in London and the North.

As trailed in yesterday’s Guardian, the Islington Fairness Commission – the first of its kind – today publishes its final report, Closing the Gap. A lot of hard work has gone into it since Left Foot Forward covered the Commission’s early beginnings a year ago.

The report focuses on income and work. Its recommendations include statutory bodies pushing subcontractors hard to ensure they pay the London Living Wage – insisting that no-one should do a hard day’s work for less than they can live on – and setting up a Fair Islington kitemark scheme to show which businesses are and are not helping make the borough a fairer place.

Other recommendations focus on early years as critical to children’s life chances; how people can give time and money to help bring the two Islingtons together; a more joined-up approach to dealing with antisocial behaviour; tackling overcrowding in social housing; and reducing stark health inequalities.

Islington may have the lowest male life expectancy in the capital (75 years), half our kids (46 per cent) may live in poverty, and we may have been the hardest hit local authority in London (in percentage terms) when it comes to the Tory-led government’s reckless cuts, but there are still concrete things we can do on our patch to try to close the gap between the rich and poor. This report identifies some of them. Now it’s time to turn words into action.

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