Following on from my recently announced top 10 priorities for Oldham East and Saddleworth, I launched the Oldham Fairness Commission (OFC) on 18th July, which is being backed by a wide range of influential leaders from the town’s public, private and voluntary sectors.
The reason for the Commission is that many inequalities persist across Oldham. One shocking example of the socio-economic inequalities that exist here is that there is more than an 11 year life expectancy gap between men who live in the most and least deprived parts of the borough.
We have to ask ourselves why it is that people in the most deprived parts of our town are dying so much younger than those in the more affluent parts. Why there are around 14,000 children in Oldham living in poverty. Why, in Oldham, there are around 16% of people with no qualifications whereas the average is 10% nationally.
There is strong evidence that fairer, more equal, societies benefit us all, and that many of these inequalities are not fixed or inevitable.
The Oldham Fairness Commission is aiming to identify and address what may be contributing to local inequalities in education, employment and income, and to define action to address these issues through our local partners and beyond.
We will seek to complement and enhance the existing work that is being undertaken by our partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
I believe that it’s only by working together that all our agencies will be able to pinpoint the best use of our scare resources to tackle some of the most ingrained inequalities in our town.
I am delighted that Norman K Stoller CBE, who has donated £1M to help young people get appropriate vocational training and qualifications leading to a proper job and career prospects in Oldham, supports the aims of the Commission. Norman has said:
“I welcome Debbie’s initiative to so publicly pull Oldham’s leaders together to identify real actions to deliver positive results for the benefit of the community in general and the disadvantaged in particular.
“It’s quite clear that progress in Oldham is made by doers and it takes more than just talking to make a difference to people’s lives and there are many examples, including the highly successful Mahdlo Youth Zone.
“This is a great example of where hard working people with a variety of skills, who are willing to accept the challenge of change, have come together to find new and better ways to make progress.
“It’s initiatives like Mahdlo, the New Youth Guarantee and the Oldham Fairness Commission that will help achieve the vision of a more confident and revitalised working community.”
The Commission will be operate in a ‘Select Committee-style’, with an analysis of data, policies and evidence, written evidence submissions and oral hearings from expert witnesses.
In addition there will be opportunities for local people to give evidence to the Commission.
The Commission will run from July 2013 to April 2014 with a maximum of 5 meetings during that period and 3 oral evidence hearings – one each on education, employment and income.
The outcome from the Commission will be recommendations for adoption and implementation by the partner organisations and agencies.
Oral hearings will be held in public and the minutes from these meetings will be published on this website.
The Commissioners include:
|Debbie Abrahams (Chair and convener)||MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth|
|Jayne Clarke||Principal, Oldham 6th Form College|
|Craig Dean||President, Oldham Chamber of Commerce|
|Alun Francis||Principal, Oldham College|
|Lisa Needham||Oldham Primary Schools’ network|
|Catherine Hankinson||Chief Superintendent GM Police (Oldham Division)|
|Martin Larkham||Secretary, Oldham Trades Councils|
|Yvonne Lee||Chief Executive, Age UK, Oldham|
|John Meagher||Chair, Oldham Secondary Schools’ network|
|Michael Meacher||MP for Oldham West & Royton|
|Fazil Rahim||Co-ordinator, Oldham Interfaith Forum|
|Jean Stretton||Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Devolved Services, representing Leader of Oldham Council|
|Ian Wilkinson||Chief Clinical Officer and Accountable Officer, Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group|
|Liz Windsor-Welsh||Chief Executive, Voluntary Action Oldham|