Labour in Brighton and Hove will set up a comprehensive enquiry aimed at tackling inequality and poverty in the city if elected next May.
Announcing the establishment of the Brighton and Hove Fairness Commission, Labour Leader Cllr Warren Morgan said:
"With more than three thousand people in our city using food banks every day, and growing numbers of people in work finding themselves living below the poverty line, we need to take action to help those families out of debt, out of poverty and into secure homes and better paid jobs."
"A Fairness Commission, similar to those set up in over a dozen cities and London boroughs, would gather evidence and take targeted action to achieve those goals. It would be independently chaired, involve leading figures from across the city, take evidence from residents and people working in the field, and complete its work within a year."
Cllr Gill Mitchell, Labour's Deputy Leader added
"there is much good work going on to tackle debt, some of it the result of action Labour has taken on the council to secure funding for anti-poverty action. The community banking partnership launching soon is a result of that, and we've taken action on payday lenders and on addictive, high stakes gambling machines at betting shops as well. A Fairness Commission would bring that work together, see what else can be done and ensure everyone in the city is working together on real solutions."
About the Fairness Commission
Since 2010, Fairness Commissions have been set up in 10 Local Authorities across England - Islington, Liverpool, York, Newcastle, Sheffield, Blackpool, Tower Hamlets, Plymouth, Bristol, Oldham and Southampton. The costs of running the fairness commission will be met through existing policy and scrutiny budgets.
The Commissions have looked at a wide range of issues, including:
- Reducing health inequalities within local authority boundaries
- Tackling youth unemployment
- Improving access to affordable housing and supporting tenants in the private rented sector
The APPG Poverty has produced a report looking at the work of Fairness Commissions and other Civil Society initiatives to reduce poverty.
The local picture
In Brighton and Hove, widening health inequalities has been highlighted by Brighton and Hove Connected (the new name for the Brighton and Hove Strategic Partnership), with statistics showing the gap in life expectancy between the most and least deprived people in the City is now more than 10 years for men and 6 years for women.
Statistics also show 42.5% of all vulnerable households in the private sector are living in non-decent homes, with 40,000 homes across the city considered to be non-decent, 92% of which are in the private sector.
Foodbank use across Brighton and Hove has risen sharply over the last 12 months. FareShare, which delivers food to 65 charities and community projects across the City, with a 38% increase between 2012 and 2013 (3,120 up from 2,250)
LABOUR’S WORK ON THE COUNCIL
Over the last 12 months, the Labour and Co-operative Group on the Council has successfully passed a number of motions aimed at tackling inequality and poverty, including:
- May 2014 – opening up Council customer service centres for food bank donations
- March 2014 – Restricting access to pay day lenders websites on public computers in council libraries
- December 2013 – calling for a clamp down on fixed odds betting terminals, machines which independent research has shown have a damaging impact on local communities
- July 2013 – calling on the Council to support local credit unions and investigate what powers the authority has to limit payday loan shops