Cities unite to tackle social inclusion

Plymouth is one of the cities, towns and boroughs across the country that have united in a new national network to tackle issues of social inequality. To symbolise this commitment, Councillor Chris Penberthy Cabinet Member for Cooperatives and Communities of Plymouth City Council, has signed the Birmingham Declaration on Social Inclusion, published on 19 March 2014.

The declaration states that, against a backdrop of public sector cuts, the task of creating more inclusive cities has moved beyond what local or national government can do on their own and that there is an urgent need to rally resources and expertise.

By signing the declaration, Plymouth has agreed to:

  • Be part of the National Social Inclusion Network
  • Share learning and develop joint campaigning on key issues around social inclusion
  • Build a strong collective voice to articulate the arguments for social inclusion for all our communities across the country
  • Identify action that can be taken around issues of shared concern

The authorities that have signed the declaration are Barrow-in-Furness, Birmingham, Bristol, Islington, Knowsley, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Tower Hamlets.

The formation of the National Social Inclusion Network and the declaration came out of the National Social Inclusion Symposium hosted by Birmingham City Council’s Leader, Councillor Sir Albert Bore and The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham and funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, in September 2013.

The network’s activities will be focused on eight themes that were identified from the reports produced by fairness and poverty commissions from around the country and developed at the symposium. Each theme is being coordinated by a local authority member of the network. They are:

  • Living wage and income inequality (Islington)
  • Impact of welfare (Birmingham)
  • Fuel, finance and food (Plymouth)
  • Education and skills (Liverpool)
  • Youth employment (Birmingham)
  • Access and affordable transport (Sheffield)
  • Democratic accountability (Newcastle)
  • Housing (Tower Hamlets)

The recent publication of theĀ Plymouth Fairness Commission‘s final report ‘Creating the Conditions for Fairness’ also supports the work of the network and declaration.

Councillor Chris Penberthy said: “It is essential that all agencies work together to help us tackle social exclusion more effectively and share good practice. I am delighted that Plymouth is able to input into this initiative.”

Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Plymouth Fairness Commission, who attended the symposium alongside Councillor Chris Penberthy said: “Plymouth is now at the heart of the drive to build fairer cities for the future. Plymouth’s energy co-operative and the Plymouth Fairness Commission’s focus on many of the issues being highlighted by the declaration such as the living wage, improving standards in the private rented sector, affordable credit and tackling food poverty, all matter greatly to our communities. It is a great opportunity for Plymouth to be leading the way on some of these developments nationally.”