Labour will set up a comprehensive inquiry aimed at tackling inequality and poverty in Brighton and Hove if the party wins power next May.
Councillor Morgan said: “With more than three thousand people in our city using food banks every day, and growing numbers of people in work finding themselves living below the poverty line, we need to take action to help those families out of debt, out of poverty and into secure homes and better-paid jobs.
“A fairness commission, similar to those set up in over a dozen cities and London boroughs, would gather evidence and take targeted action to achieve those goals.
“It would be independently chaired, involve leading figures from across the city, take evidence from residents and people working in the field, and complete its work within a year.”
Councillor Gill Mitchell, Labour’s deputy group leader, said: “There is much good work going on to tackle debt, some of it the result of action Labour has taken on the council to secure funding for anti-poverty action.
“The community banking partnership launching soon is a result of that, and we’ve taken action on payday lenders and on addictive high stakes gambling machines at betting shops as well.
“A fairness commission would bring that work together, see what else can be done and ensure everyone in the city is working together on real solutions.”
Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Fairness commissions can be an incredibly important poverty-fighting tool for local authorities.
“By bringing together local charities, businesses and other stakeholders, fairness commissions can ensure local communities are doing everything they can to ensure all children have decent childhoods and fair life chances.
“Child poverty is expected to rise sharply over the next few years as a result of benefit cuts. That means more pressure and greater costs on local services.”
Labour said that the cost of running the fairness commission would be met through existing policy and scrutiny budgets.
Ten councils in England have set up a fairness commission since 2010 – Islington, Liverpool, York, Newcastle, Sheffield, Blackpool, Tower Hamlets, Plymouth, Bristol, Oldham and Southampton.
The commissions have looked at a wide range of issues, including
- Reducing health inequalities
- Tackling youth unemployment
- Improving access to affordable housing and supporting tenants in the private rented sector
Labour said that widening health inequalities locally had been highlighted by Brighton and Hove Connected – the new name for the Brighton and Hove Strategic Partnership.
The party said that the gap in life expectancy between the most and least deprived people in the city was now more than ten years for men and six years for women.
It said that 42.5 per cent of all vulnerable households in the private sector were living in properties that did not meet the decent homes standard.
And that 40,000 homes across Brighton and Hove were considered to fall short of the decent homes standard, with 92 per cent of them in the private sector.
Food bank use across Brighton and Hove had risen sharply over the past 12 months, the party said.
Fare Share, which delivers food to 65 charities and community projects locally, had reported a 38 per cent rise in the number of people being helped.
Labour added that over the past year its councillors had proposed a number of motions aimed at tackling inequality and poverty which had been passed by the council.
- opening up council customer service centres for food bank donations
- restricting access to payday lenders’ websites on public computers in council libraries
- calling for a clampdown on fixed odds betting terminals
- calling on the council to support local credit unions and investigate what powers the council has to limit payday loan shops
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