Oldham West and Royton parliamentary candidate Jim McMahon has joined Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne and myself, in signing the Oldham Fairness Charter which pledges to deliver the recommendations from the Oldham Fairness Commission (OFC) to help reduce inequalities across Oldham borough.
I set up and chaired the Commission in 2013 to identify local inequalities in education, employment, and income between different groups of people, and to define what action can be taken to address them. The OFC report was published in March 2015 and it’s great to have Jim and Angela on board. We are absolutely committed to building a fairer Oldham, and to tackle the inequalities that exist.
We are working with our Commissioners to host a conference in January 2016 with organisations and businesses across the private, public and voluntary sector, and with the public too, to develop and refine the report’s recommendations. At the conference we’ll be looking at each partner’s action plan, as well as defining a ‘road-map’ for the different work streams that will be required to implement the recommendations.
Following the report we now have a wider understanding of the issues associated with inequalities across Oldham, and a commitment to tackle them from our commissioners who have represented key organisations and sectors in Oldham. What we must do at the conference is determine how progress will be monitored and what the reporting arrangements will be so the Commission maintains momentum.
Oldham is a wonderful place to live and work but it is a fact that certain groups of people do better than others. There are consistent patterns in these inequalities which are reflected in other parts of the country and other parts of the world. We know that the distribution of income, wealth, knowledge, and other resources, ultimately effects not only how long we will live but how long we live in good health. There is no greater inequality and injustice than knowing that you are likely to die sooner just because you’re poor.
What we now know is that by reducing these inequalities, particularly in income, not only do disadvantaged people do better, but the rest of society does better
too. Evidence has shown that educational attainment, social mobility, crime levels as well as life expectancy all improve in more equal societies. Fairer societies do better and are better for everyone.
It is only by working together that all our local agencies will be able to pinpoint the best use of our scarce resources to tackle some of the most ingrained inequalities in our borough.
It is now over to these leaders and their organisations to deliver the report’s 30 recommendations. Three of these include making Oldham a living wage borough; reviewing childcare provision to ensure ‘wrap around’ access from early years onwards; and developing procurement policies that address local income and employment inequalities.
The report is not the end of the work to build a fairer Oldham, it is another step along the path.