New Carnegie UK Trust report – Fairness Commissions from Shetland to Southampton: The Role of Fairness Commissions in the Enabling State

June 21, 2017

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Over the past six years, Fairness Commissions have been established in localities across Great Britain to examine and develop approaches for tackling poverty and inequality in their communities. Today, the Carnegie UK Trust launches a new report which examines Fairness Commissions as a model for social change at a local level, and asks how Fairness Commission might support greater civic wellbeing in a more enabling state.

The report’s main findings are drawn from a round table discussion in February, which brought together Fairness Commission representatives from across the UK to share learning and best practice. It is informed by the Trust’s concept of the ‘Enabling State, ’ which describes a public policy shift from traditional, ‘top down’ welfare state approaches to more facilitative and enabling approaches, which seek to empower individuals and communities to contribute to their own and collective wellbeing.

The Carnegie UK Trust first became involved in Fairness Commissions in 2014, when Chief Executive Martyn Evans was invited to Chair the Fairer Fife Commission. The February 2017 round table supported our understanding of how different Fairness Commissions have approached the process of change. The round table was co-hosted and Chaired by Professor Mark Shucksmith at the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, and attended by Fairness Commissions from England, Scotland and Wales as well as national policy stakeholders.

The Trust’s report finds that:

  • Fairness Commissions represent an important example of local agency and resourcefulness.
  • Fairness Commission have strong potential to play a facilitative and enabling role which empowers individuals and communities, and which the Trust believes is important to deliver opportunities for increased wellbeing in the 21st
  • Moving from ambition to policy implementation and social change poses multiple challenges. A notable challenge facing Fairness Commissions is balancing local action alongside seeking to influence national policy where it is felt the desired social change can only be achieved at this level.
  • Fairness Commissions represent an under-utilised resource for cross-regional and cross-jurisdictional and learning of ‘what works’.
  • In order to realise their full potential, new and existing Fairness Commissions should seek to increase the opportunities to share learning and good practice.

You can read the full discussion paper here