The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu will sponsor a new independent advisory body which will examine matters of social justice in York.
“The Fairness Commission” will prepare a report which will help inform the City of York Council on issues of fairness in preparation of the Council’s spending priorities review for 2012-2014.
The Archbishop, who has consistently spoken out concerning poverty and matters of social justice, noted that in a recent ‘Indices of Deprivation Survey’, the City of York Council was ranked 244th in a table of 354 councils across England – however 8 parts of the city were ranked as being among the poorest 20 per cent in the country, with one (Kingsway West) remaining as one of the 10 per cent of the most deprived areas nationally.
Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said:
“I know many people are afraid of what public service cuts may mean for them and their families. There are difficult choices to be made, and real debates to be had about what is the best way forward. You can judge how healthy a society is by how it treats the poor and vulnerable. I am pleased to sponsor this independent commission which seeks to make expert recommendations based on need rather than political aspiration. We need to ensure that no-one is left behind.
“This Commission will take a three prong approach looking at Well-Being, Access and Work. Let us make every part of the City of York a fantastic place for all citizens to live, with a real wow-factor, where all of us choose to participate.”
Ruth Redfern, Chair of the Commission, said:
“Right now we’re facing some of the toughest economic conditions we’ve seen in our lifetime. We all know that this is a time of public service cutbacks, but we need to ensure that the cuts which are made are fair for all residents of York, particularly those who are most vulnerable.
“The reason this Commission has been brought together is to make sure everyone in this city has a chance to say what their needs and their concerns are and can feel confident these will be presented to the Council. I’m looking forward to getting on with the job at hand and providing an independent insight into York in 2011, to ensure a fair York of the future.”
Councillor James Alexander, the Leader of City of York Council, said:
“York has a reputation for being an affluent city but some areas are amongst the most deprived in the country.
“The Commission’s report to the council will provide an independent insight into York in 2011: what residents’ views are on key issues that affect their well-being, access to services and to work, and how we can best support them.
“We have long been committed to the creating of a Fairness Commission in York and I am delighted that we have been able to honour our manifesto pledge. The experience and profile of the Commission’s sponsor and commissioners add real weight to its work and its future findings. I am delighted they have agreed to take the project forward.”
The Fairness Commission will have four Commissioners and a Chair appointed on the basis of their expertise and commitment to social justice.
The members are as follows:
Ruth Redfern, Assistant Chief Executive, Yorkshire Forward.
John Kennedy – Director of Care Services, Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
John Lister – Finance Director, Aviva.
Professor Richard Wilkinson – Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, Honorary Professor at UCL and a Visiting Professor at the University of York.
Dr. Kate Pickett – Professor of Epidemiology, Dept of Health Sciences at the University of York.
The first business meeting of the Commission will be on 26th July and public meetings to talk to York residents in different parts of the city are being planned for September and October. York High School has agreed to host one of these meetings.
David Ellis, Headteacher of York High School, said:
“I am delighted to welcome the Fairness Commission to York High School and look forward to working with them to involve young people and the local community.”
Note to Editors:
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett are co-directors of the Equality Trust and co-authors of ‘The Spirit Level’, chosen as one of the Top Ten Books of the Decade by the New Statesman and winner of the 2010 Bristol Festival of Ideas Book Prize. They support the development of local initiatives to promote equality, and enthusiastically support the creation of a York Fairness Commission.