A group of community organisations, residents and councillors have joined together to establish a Fairness Commission in Barnet to look at tackling inequality and to consider how best to achieve a fairer, more inclusive and more prosperous borough.
Figures recently published in a study by Policy in Practice which Barnet Council participated in, show Barnet had the highest percentage of low income families in London whose income does not meet their outgoings (25 per cent). The study found that 8,515 families had a cash shortfall in 2018 – an increase of 33 per cent compared with 2016. An additional 4,523 families are expected to face cash shortfalls by 2021 – an increase of 53 per cent.
The Barnet Fairness Commission will focus on mapping different types of inequality in the Borough as well as three other key areas in its first year:
- Building community infrastructure and a thriving social enterprise sector
- Strengthening community cohesion and tackling hate crime
- Addressing gender inequality and ending domestic violence and abuse
The Commission will be Chaired by Lord Roy Kennedy of Southwark, Shadow Spokesperson in the House of Lords on Housing, Communities & Local Government and Justice.
The other Commissioners, all of whom either live or work in Barnet, are:
Abdurzak Hadi, Barnet Citizens / Somali Bravanese Welfare Association
Rabbi Rebecca Birk, Finchley Progressive Synagogue
Cllr Ross Houston, Deputy Leader of the Barnet Labour Group
Anna Kyprianou, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean, Middlesex University
Richard Logue, resident and Lib Dem local election candidate in 2018
Julie Pal, Chief Executive of Community Barnet
Cllr Reema Patel, Barnet Labour Group Lead on Adults & Social Care
Imam Hamid Qureshi, Islamic Association of North London
Kate Salinger, resident and former Barnet Conservative councillor
Christina Spybey, Christians Against Poverty
The Barnet Fairness Commission aims to raise awareness of the issues, investigate best practice solutions, and increase participation.
The Commission is being launched at a public meeting on Thursday 18 July at the Trinity Church Hall in Colindale, with guest speaker, Catherine West MP, who set-up the first Fairness Commission in Islington.
All members of the public are welcome.
The Commission will run for a year and hold public sessions to take evidence from independent experts, local authorities and members of the public. Anyone can submit written evidence to the Commission by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Commission will produce an interim report in early 2020 and a final report in summer 2020. The findings of the commission will be used to try and influence local and national policy, and suggest practical solutions that could be implemented by the community as well.
Lord Kennedy said: “I am delighted to be Chairing the Barnet Fairness Commission, and look forward to working with all the Commissioners and hearing from residents about how to make Barnet a fairer, more inclusive and more prosperous borough for everyone who lives and works there.
We also look forward to welcoming Catherine West to our launch event on 18 July and hearing about what the very first Fairness Commission did to reduce poverty and inequality in Islington.”
Cllr Reema Patel said: “The Barnet Fairness Commission is an ambitious endeavour that brings together community leaders , cross-party politicians and citizens around a common goal – creating a level playing field, and a Barnet in which no one is left behind.
A recent report identified Barnet as one of the top poverty hotspots in London. This Commission will look at what we can do to tackle poverty, address gender inequality, build greater cohesion across our diverse communities and create a Barnet we all have a stake in.
The Commission will live its values, being inclusive, collaborative and participative. We welcome your participation in our forthcoming events. To find out more you can sign up here.
Last but not least, I am grateful to the Commissioners for the time and support they have committed to the Commission, and in particular to Lord Roy Kennedy who has agreed to chair the Commission. We are confident that with their advice and support, we will realise tangible social impact.”
To download a copy of the “Policy in Practice” study, please click here.