Everyone having more doesn’t make us more equal.

This week LWM took part in a focus group with the 2070 commission on Spatial Inequalities. The commission recognise that wide and deeply embedded issues such as inequality require long term vision and planning to resolve, in much the same way that major infrastructure projects take decades to realise. As part of their research to form recommendations they’ve held calls for evidence (to which people can continue to contribute to) and are convening focus groups across the UK.

Our focus group looked at issues communities in Birmingham are facing and some of the methods different groups are using to overcome them.We talked about the risks and advantages posed by large infrastructure schemes like HS2, how community asset identification can be used effectively, and the challenges of making planning law that benefits the many. Where city centre developments are not owned by local people, we wondered if the owners can have the best interests of the locality at heart?

Inequality is in the news today, with the launch on the Deaton review. They recognise that inequality is multifaceted, and looks different depending what you are measuring. The output of the review will be interesting. We know globalisation has affected different counties, as well as regions of the UK differently. Inequalities seen at regional level, such as ongoing debates on the amounts spent on transport infrastructure or bus fares, highlight the challenges of equality of investment and equity of outcomes. Inequality is seen between towns and the countryside of the West Midlands (examples can be found in the NPI report), and down to individual communities and streets.

A recent Bank of England speech reflects on data which shows the importance of locality on economics. We know local solutions are important because we’re all starting out from different places, with different community assets, and diverse communities have different needs too. The evidence showing that it’s inequality, rather than absolute wealth which causes some of our issues (I’ve just started reading the Spirit Level) means it’s an important push back on the Inclusive Growth agenda: everyone having more doesn’t make us more equal.

It’s these issues that drive LWM campaigns for resilient local economies, where decentralisation and participation can bring benefits to each and every community, without detriment to another.

Photo by Søren Astrup Jørgensen on Unsplash