This conference in York was opened by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and brought together representatives from across the UK and Europe to discuss the role that cities can play to promote fairness and combat poverty.
I was delighted to be asked to speak about the work we are doing with the Oldham Fairness Commission looking at local inequalities in employment, education and income and what concrete steps we can take to tackle them.
There are deep and persistent inequalities across Oldham and Saddleworth, including a difference in male life expectancy of 11 years across the borough. These inequalities are not fixed or inevitable. It was interesting to hear about the work underway across the country by other Fairness Commissions to identify their local inequalities and what they need to do to create fairer communities.
A key issue we all raised was although addressing income inequalities is very important, we must also focus on how we share power; process matters. Not an easy one, especially when we there are so many vested interests in maintaining the status quo.
The Oldham Fairness Commission will be holding its final evidence session this summer which will then be followed by the Commission’s report and recommendations.