Councillor Lib Peck, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Equality Commission
Councillor Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture
Jackie Belton, Strategic Director for Corporate Resources
Contact for enquiries: Jean Taylor, Acting Head of Equalities, 020 7926 9156, JTaylor1@lambeth.gov.uk
The Leader of the Council and Chair of the Equality Commission, Councillor Lib Peck, introduced the report and provided a summary of the Commission’s work and goals. Ten of Lambeth’s most established activists and community leaders had dedicated a huge amount of time and effort to the Commission and developed the list of recommendations now subject to Cabinet approval. Some recommendations would be directed at the Government, others would be put to the Mayor of London and the remainder would be actioned by the council itself.
Councillor Peck noted a number of significant issues that the recommendations aimed to impact upon. These included:
· Tackling underachievement amongst children and young people, in particular Black Caribbean children. The new Lambeth Schools Partnership would be utilised here.
· Tackling low pay and poor working conditions.
· Increasing representation of target communities in local workforces at all levels. The council was to lead by example and take action to achieve more diverse representation in senior leadership roles.
· Reduce the impact of crime on young people; in particular knife crime.
Various levers of implementation would be required, including through Lambeth First, Councillor Winifred’s work and via ongoing work of the Commission who would now meet on a quarterly basis. The Chair expressed profound gratitude to the commissioners who had contributed to an outstanding piece of work.
The Acting Head of Equalities, Jean Taylor, added some additional context about the consultation process and resulting recommendations.
Cabinet members then made the following comments:
· This was a timely report, made all the more important in the wake of the Grenfell disaster. The council needed to recognise its achievements on equalities and work to improve standards further. Councillors, officers and members of the public all had an important role to play.
· The report was a living paper that would be continually monitored, challenged and reviewed. The monitoring process would need to be robust.
· The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care had attended one of the sessions and was pleased to see the new Civic Centre and Town Hall would have many improvements for people with disabilities. The recommendations also championed DisabledGo.
· A separate report would be produced to assess the council’s current organisational approach to, and performance on, a range of key disability issues. It would also set out actions to address any areas of weakness, such as the quality of the public realm on council estates.
· Early intervention and prevention was crucial for reducing inequality. The work of the Commission had already guided a range of new strategies that were currently being implemented in Children’s Services.
· It was pleasing to see that English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) had been highlighted within the recommendations. The council needed to lobby government for more funding here and should also work with other organisations to develop a holistic approach to ESOL services.
· The Equalities Commission report had already been used as a resource at a jobs fair on a council estate. There were many positive stories emerging from the community.