New council ‘roadmap’ aims to reduce inequality in Barnet

The ‘Towards a Fair Barnet’ strategy sets out the council’s aims for the next six years, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

Hendon Town Hall and (inset) Zahra Beg, cabinet member for equalities, voluntary and community sector
Hendon Town Hall and (inset) Zahra Beg, cabinet member for equalities, voluntary and community sector

Barnet Council has pledged to tackle inequality in its new ‘Towards a Fair Barnet’ strategy for the next six years.

It comes after the ‘State of the Borough’ report published last year highlighted major inequalities in the borough.

More than one-third of working age residents with disabilities, and one-third of black residents, were said to be ‘economically inactive’ and had not sought work within the last four weeks. Men were also earning 10% more than women on average.

The council’s “roadmap” explains that while the gaps were localised issues, many of these problems were “entrenched across the city and country”. 

The strategy details how the council would tackle these gaps, stating: “Our approach will change from typically considering inequalities as single-issue effects happening to individual residents who require help, to understanding that sometimes our residents are also impacted by structural inequalities that require us to change the way our systems and services operator to tackle unfairness in access and outcomes.”

Community involvement was said to be key to the design of the roadmap, with two phases of community outreach and resident engagement contributing to the new policy.

The first phase of community engagement found residents wanted easier access to services, more opportunities for cross-community events and increased protection against discrimination. 

The second found residents wanted the council to emphasise the understanding of residents’ individuality, which included their lived experiences, recognise the differences not only between communities but within them, and acknowledge the services were going to need to work harder to become more accessible.

During the annual council meeting at Hendon Town Hall yesterday (Tuesday 21st) councillors approved the new strategy, presented by Zahra Beg, cabinet member for equalities, voluntary and community sector. 

She said: “I am pleased to present our ‘Towards a Fair Barnet’ roadmap, for equality, diversity and inclusion. This roadmap is not just a policy document, but it’s a strategic framework designed to tackle persistent inequalities in our communities. 

“Our roadmap is built on three pillars, people, place and planet. In terms of our people we’ve changed our approach. Instead of focusing on individual problems, we’ll consider each person as a whole and recognise the other challenges they face to give them the best service possible. 

“The places people live can affect their life chances, so we plan to work with local communities and partners to agree shared priorities for neighbourhoods with the greatest inequalities. 

“For the planet, we’ve pledged to become a net-zero emissions borough, but we will review the impact of climate policies to ensure they do not fall unequally on different groups of people.”

The ‘Towards a Fair Barnet’ document can be read here:

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