Is London fair?
This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post here.
London’s role as a global city is indisputable.
It’s a leading international financial centre, attractive to migrants from around the world as well as from the rest of the UK, a major tourist destination and home to top-ranking research institutions.
It may also be a global leader in building a fairer city for its residents.
Yet currently it is a tale of two cities.
While it’s home to the highest number of billionaires, it also has the highest rate of children and older people living in poverty.
This is why the London Fairness Commission has been set up. To listen to all Londoners and ask ‘What is fairness? Do you think London is fair? Should we be trying to make London a fairer city?’
We are therefore kicking off a debate this week to find out what Londoners think – the first London-wide debate about fairness since Charles Booth mapped London poverty in 1889.
Fairness as an idea has been used, misused and overused by policy makers for many years. We believe the public of London should have a chance to discuss what fairness means to them, what it looks and feels like, and hopefully agree a fairness ‘standard’ against which they can hold future politicians accountable based on the decisions they make. We want to work with all political parties over the coming months to achieve this.
We are attempting to do something different, something others haven’t attempted in over 100 years. It will be a wonderful, educational and insightful experiment which I really hope people will engage with.
What are we not doing? Well, we are not in the business of assuming we know what the outcome of this debate with Londoners will be. We’ll be basing our findings on evidence, on new insights and data about the current position around opportunity in the capital and on trends such as housing, incomes and employment.
We’re not interested in engaging in ‘wealth bashing.’ We want to discuss the relationship between fairness and equality, but we also understand that fairness and equality are not always one and the same.
We know we can’t exclude anyone with a stake in London in this debate. The Commission will begin by inviting all those with an interest in our great city – residents, business leaders, visitors, and workers – from across London to put forward their ideas on how they understand fairness, whether London is fair, and whether London needs to change to be fairer. The Commission will reflect on these ideas and conversations which have already begun.
This September, we will also hold a public debate at the Guildhall, co-sponsored by the Evening Standard, as well as an event where different groups will be invited to debate the fairness of London.
We have recruited a team of 15 Commissioners from the worlds of business, charity, research and government.
These will have their own strong views on what fairness means. However, their role is to listen to the views of the public, and to use their expertise to take those views toward recommendations.
The Commission will then publish a report on our findings in early 2016. This is after having listened to Londoners, reflected back our findings and suggested actions to the public and policy-makers.
If you live, work or invest in London we want to hear from you.
We will also be holding events so please look out for these and come along with your views of what fairness means to you.
Our Call for Ideas is now open and available at londonfairnesscommission.co.uk/call-for-ideas