Crossing boundaries: Working together to tackle regional inequality in England
Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair
| Equality and Human Rights Commission
By ensuring that regional economic growth provides access to opportunity for all and doesn’t leave anyone behind, we’ll be one step closer to creating a truly fair England where opportunities are shared equally across the country, says Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
An equal England. Where no matter where you are born or where you live, you have the same opportunities to progress in life. The same standard of education. The same waiting times for healthcare services.
Sadly that’s not the case right now.
We recently conducted an extensive study about equality at a regional level in England, which follows our report last year about how we as a nation are performing on equality and human rights.
Is England Fairer? has found that the standard of education and health services, poverty rates, and career opportunities differ hugely depending on where you live in England. Certain areas – particularly the North of England and the West Midlands – are lagging far behind others, with serious consequences. People in the South are not only more likely to be in employment or education, they’re also living longer and in better conditions.
On top of that, things were significantly worse for people with protected characteristics such as ethnic minorities and disabled people. Half of disabled people in the North East experienced severe material deprivation, and the poverty rate experienced by ethnic minorities is over 10% higher in the North than in the South.
But it’s not all negative. Despite the general widening geographical divide, the report found some uncelebrated pockets of success – such as low waiting times for health services in the North of England and vast improvements in early years’ education attainment in the North East.
We need to gather these successes and see how we can apply them to other areas. That’s why we are launching a new network today where policy makers and businesses across England can come together to share best practice and tackle geographical inequality.
Because no one can create meaningful, sustainable change alone. And what’s more, they shouldn’t. If an education provider has useful insight on how to reduce the number of school exclusions, or an employer has successfully narrowed its disability pay gap, we need to make sure they share how they achieved this with others that might be struggling in that area. By combining the experience and expertise of local authorities and their business and charity partners from across the entire country, we have a much better chance of improving life outcomes for everyone, no matter where they live.
Mayors, councils, charities and businesses with strong ties to their local communities are uniquely placed to solve the challenges we currently face as a country and address the divisions and fractures in our society.
By ensuring that regional economic growth provides access to opportunity for all and doesn’t leave anyone behind, we’ll be one step closer to creating a truly fair England where opportunities are shared equally across the country.
We urge them to take up the challenge and reap the benefits of working together by joining our English Regions Network today.
To find out more about getting involved, please email EnglandNetwork@equalityhumanrights.com.
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.