Lambeth has surged ahead in so many ways in recent years: our population is growing, employment is rising and our schoolchildren continue to achieve record-breaking exam results.
The enormous investment pouring into the borough is changing lives for the better.
Despite this growth, we are acutely aware that Lambeth remains one of the most deprived areas of the country - Lambeth is the eighth most deprived borough in London and the 22nd most deprived in England. Deprivation brings significant challenges in health, education and employment for everyone.
But, for some of our people, the problems are even more severe. Some of our communities still suffer even greater levels of poverty and inequality; they still face barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their potential.
Lambeth is open for business and bold in our ambitions but, at the heart of it all, there must be fairness. We must be honest about the inequality we still have in our borough, and ensure that the proceeds of Lambeth’s growth are spread fairly amongst our communities.
Lambeth Council has established an Equality Commission, which will identify these barriers and tackle them head-on. It will concentrate above all on the challenges facing disabled adults, black Caribbean, Portuguese and our Somalian communities.
The commission has focused on four thematic areas:
- education and learning
- income and employment
- crime and justice
- participation, decision-making and leadership.
The Equality Commission launched its final report and recommendations on 18 July 2017:
The focus of the final report and recommendations made in it were grounded in the evidence collected as part of the commission process - from residents, local stakeholders and partners and officers. This evidence was captured in our interim report.
Lambeth’s Equality Commission gathered evidence from a range of sources as it investigated the reasons behind persistent inequalities in the borough.
Commissioners have made a number of fact-finding visits around Lambeth, and they have also taken formal evidence from a series of experts.
Feedback from these sessions was captured and along with formal briefing papers, fed informed formal commission sessions on each of the four thematic areas.
An overview of the thematic areas and the briefing papers for the commission sessions are available below.
Education and learning
At GCSE level, half of pupils receiving free school meals (FSM) did not attain the required standard of five GCSE passes A* to C.
Similarly, whilst we have seen significant improvements in Lambeth’s schools for all ethnic groups, improvement has been greater for white British pupils than for ethnic minority groups overall and there are some groups for who there are significant gaps in attainment, particularly Portuguese and black Caribbean pupils.
In November 2016, the Commission heard evidence from a range of experts, including Cathy Twist (Lambeth’s Director of Education and Learning), Annie Hudson (Strategic Director, Children’s Services) and Feyisa Demi (Head of Research, Schools Research and Statistics Unit).
More than 40 people, including residents, including teachers, parents, governors, a number of commissioners and councillors, came to a public meeting at Lambeth College, to discuss the impact of inequality in education. A summary of their feedback and insight is below.
Income and employment
Local employment rates for Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) residents have improved over the past five years, but BAME residents are more likely to be unemployed compared to ‘White’ Lambeth residents.
Disabled working age people in London are twice more likely not to be in paid work than their non-disabled counterparts and older people aged 50 to 64 are more likely to be unemployed.
In November 2016, the commission heard from council experts Helen Payne, Assistant Director, Welfare, Employment and Skills, and Ruth Smith, School Improvement Consultant/Coordinator, as well as counterparts from organisations including Jobcentre Plus, the Green Man Skills Zone, and The Walcott Foundation.
Over 30 participants, including residents, teachers, parents, and representatives of local voluntary organisations, attended a public meeting to discuss inequality in income and employment. A summary of their contributions is available below.
Participation, representation and leadership
We know there are some groups of residents who for a range of possible reasons are less likely to participate in decision making. These include: unemployed residents, council tenants, digitally excluded residents, BME residents from the Black and Portuguese communities and Muslim residents.
In January 2018, the Commission took evidence from experts including Amelia Viney of the Advocacy Academy, Eamonn Madden of Inspirational Youth, and Lambeth councillor Jackie Dyer MBE, Vice Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce.
Streatham MP Chuka Umunna hosted a public meeting on participation, representation and leadership in Lambeth. More than 80 people turned up at Streatham Library for the lively session.
Crime and justice
Women are more likely to be victims of harassment, sexual violence or violence at the hands a partner, whilst men are more likely to be victims of serious wounding, knife and gun crime and robbery.
Deprivation is also a strong risk factor for being a victim of violent crime, with residents of deprived communities being five times more likely to be admitted for emergency hospital treatment following a violent crime.
Victims of crime are disproportionately likely to be African, Caribbean, Black or mixed race.
Black African, Black Caribbean, Black or mixed race residents are also more likely to be suspected of many types of crime and for many crimes are more likely to be charged.
In February 2018, Commissioners held a formal session on the issue of inequality in the areas of crime and justice. They took evidence from a series of witnesses, including Kate Paradine, of Women in Prison, Catherine Alborough, of the Beth Centre, Ch Supt Richard Wood & Supt Becky Riggs, of Lambeth Borough Police, and Ira Campbell, youth manager at the Marcus Lipton Centre.