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Islington sets up inequality commission

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The London Borough of Islington has appointed the author of an influential book on the pernicious impact of inequality to lead a new commission set up to help make the borough a fairer place.

Islington LBC said Professor Richard Wilkinson- author of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better - would chair the Islington Fairness Commission (IFC), which has been established to find new ways of tackling inequality in the borough. Despite pockets of wealth, Islington is ranked 8th most deprived local authority area in the UK according to official government figures.

Based on 30 years of research in countries across the world, The Spirit Level, which was co-authored by Mr Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, details the “pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption.” The book argues that outcomes for many key indicators of well being, such as physical and mental health, imprisonment, obesity and social mobility, are substantially worse in more unequal countries.

The IFC will also include senior figures from Islington council, the Islington Police, the NHS, Homes for Islington, the Islington Trades Council, the Islington Chamber of Commerce, the City and Islington College, the Cripplegate Foundation, and the London School of Economics.

The council said the IFC would meet in public to hear evidence from the community and debate issues such as health, housing, family, community, social care, education, skills and training, employment, crime and safety, democracy, sustainability, environment and economy.

It will produce a final report of its findings in April 2011, which will in turn be used to help shape policy and practice across the borough, the council said.

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