A major report which sets out how to make Newcastle a fairer city in the face of public spending cuts was launched today (Mon July 16).
The report, Fair Share, Fair Play, Fair Go, Fair Say, sets out principles and proposals which local councillors and other decision-makers can use to help ensure that choices are fair and do not further disadvantage the most vulnerable in society.
The report is the work of the Newcastle Fairness Commission – a group of 18 individuals from across the city including business people, clergy, academics and community activists who were asked by the Leader of the Council, Nick Forbes, to consider how Newcastle can become a fairer city.
Introducing the report, Chair of the Commission, Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, said “The city faces some tough choices and it is important that those choices are made fairly.
"As a Commission, our approach has been to define some of the principles which we hope will improve decision-making, and provide guidance on how those principles might be applied to real-life situations. Our aim has been to influence the way the Council thinks, rather than to tell them what to do.”
The report identifies the need to deliver:
Fair share: where people can expect fair outcomes and a fair share of services, according to their needs.
Fair play: where people can have confidence that decisions are made in an even-handed, open and transparent manner, according to evidence.
Fair go: where people have opportunities to participate, and a chance to fulfil their aspirations for the future.
Fair say: where people feel included in their city, communities and neighbourhoods, given a fair hearing and an effective voice in decision-making.
It goes on to set out 10 principles of fairness, applies these principles to difficult decisions facing the city, and draws some high-level recommendations for the Council and other decision-makers.
Council leader, Cllr Nick Forbes, who commissioned the report, believes that it will play a central role in helping the city make important decisions about how services should be allocated at a time of austerity and cuts.
The Fairness Commission report should prompt further debate across the city. It will be discussed next Wednesday in the Civic Centre at an event let’s talk about tomorrow. The public and organisations are invited to consider what Newcastle will be like in 2016, and understand the challenges that the council as a public service provider will face as more people seek its support in difficult times.
The Fairness Commission report will also be debated at a meeting of the full Council in September. The Council will aim to incorporate its recommendations into its own procedures, and advocate fairness across other organisations – within the city and more widely.
Welcoming the study, Cllr Forbes said: “I initiated this study to help the Council, and the city as a whole, make a reality of our commitment to fairness.
"We recognise the responsibility to take difficult decisions. But by working on the basis of clear principles, open debate and in the interests of the most vulnerable in our society, we can strive to be a city known for fairness. I welcome this report, and congratulate the Commission on such a clear and intelligent contribution to this work.”
View the report (pdf, 1.55Mb)
Page last updated: 16 July, 2012