Summit explores why the gap between rich and poor matters

By on 08/07/2013 in Cllr Cotton, News
Cllr John Cotton

Cllr John Cotton

One of the country's leading “fairness gurus” will be speaking at a summit on social inclusion in Birmingham on Wednesday 10th July 2013.

Professor Richard Wilkinson is co-author of “The Spirit Level – why more equal societies almost always do better” and a founder of The Equality Trust (www.equalitytrust.org.uk) which works to reduce income inequality in order to improve the quality of life in the UK.

In his keynote speech, Professor Wilkinson will be setting out his evidence to show that people in more equal societies live longer, have better mental health, better chances for a good education regardless of their background, that community life is stronger where the income gap is narrower and that when inequality is reduced people trust each other more, there is less violence and rates of imprisonment are lower.

The summit, Sharing Best Practice in Europe, is being funded by the Eurocities' Cities for Active Inclusion Network (part of the EU PROGRESS programme) and its programme also includes speakers from Barcelona, Rotterdam and Stockholm who will be giving presentations on active inclusion initiatives in practice.

Over 150 delegates from the public, voluntary, community, faith and private sectors across the city are expected to attend the summit at Austin Court, which is being co-chaired by The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham and Cllr John Cotton, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for social cohesion and equalities.

Some of the innovative work by local organisations in Birmingham contributing to build a social inclusion “movement for change” will be showcased in a display at the event.

The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Richard Wilkinson to Birmingham and to have the opportunity to hear him present his evidence on why equal societies almost always do better.

“Many people may feel intuitively that the world ought to be a fairer place, but what Professor Wilkinson's research shows is that there is a direct correlation between income inequality and a whole host of indicators.

“Birmingham's social inclusion process, Giving Hope Changing Lives, is based on having a better understanding of the causes and effects of social exclusion and what works in tackling these issues.

“Hearing Professor Wilkinson present his evidence and discussing his work with him will help us increase our understanding of the effects of inequality and, in turn, make us better able to provide the support needed to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our city”.

Cllr John Cotton, cabinet member for social cohesion and equalities, said: “Inequality and deprivation doesn’t just hurt certain individuals or neighbourhoods, it also damages our city as a whole. Unless we challenge the causes of poverty and disadvantage, we are sabotaging Birmingham’s economic future. Harsh experience here in our city shows us that Professor Wilkinson’s analysis is absolutely spot on.

“But we are focused in taking action to turn this around. Our Social Inclusion Process has been leading the way, taking practical steps to tackle unemployment, challenge the causes of child poverty, poor health and educational achievements. This summit is an opportunity to take stock, learn from others across Europe and plan the next steps in our attack on inequality in our city.”

ENDS

Notes for editors:

For more information on the summit or the Birmingham Social Inclusion Process, or to arrange interviews, please contact Sue Smith, senior partnership officer, Birmingham City Council Challenge Unit on 0121 675 3624

This conference is commissioned under the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (2007-2013). This programme is managed by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission. It was established to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in the employment and social affairs area, as set out in the Social Agenda, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the EUROPE 2020 goals in these fields. For more information see: ec.europa.eu/progress.

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