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The Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership
Status : In Progress
Programme : Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership

Oxfordshire is home to significant inequalities. It is one of only three regions that contributes a surplus to the UK economy, but despite its global position and perceived affluence, its wealth and opportunities are not evenly distributed. According to the 2019 English Indices of Deprivation, 17 of 61 wards in Oxfordshire are the most deprived in England.  These are mostly contained within ten wards – one in Abingdon, three in Banbury and six in Oxford. The city of Oxford is the second most unequal place in the UK (source: Cities Outlook 2022 | Centre for Cities), in terms of income, housing affordability and life expectancy. Education attainment is below average, affecting all generations.

The Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership brings together over a hundred organisations county-wide – employers, business, education, community groups and local government – that are working to share knowledge, expertise and resources to address some of our greatest challenges.

The Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership is working together to create a more equal and sustainable region that creates opportunities and benefits for all people within the county. We are working to tackle some of our region’s biggest problems to create a fairer environment where everyone can contribute and share in our success.

Our vision is that Oxfordshire creates opportunities and benefits for all communities and people within our region.

What is an Inclusive Economy?

The following principles lie at the heart of the Partnership’s work:

  • Reducing inequality
  • Creating opportunity
  • Sustainability
  • Creating benefits for communities and citizens
  • Our focus is Oxfordshire – this is a county-wide issue

The Partnership’s work

We are ambitious and we are realistic. We know that change takes time, so the Partnership is working to identify practical changes that we think will make a difference. We identify new areas of work as well as building on things that we know have worked in the past. This might involve pilot projects, trialling new collaborations or partnerships, sharing best practice, and ensuring that organisations are not working in isolation.

The Partnership has established four themes which are the focus of our work:

  • employment
  • education
  • buying local
  • investing in places that need it most

A working group has been set up for each of these themes.

The work of the Partnership is being overseen by a steering group, which is co-chaired by Baroness Jan Royall, Principal Somerville College and Chair, Conference of Colleges and Jeremy Long, Chair of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Our focus is on tackling areas that need attention, which will have an impact, and where we can really make a difference for the people of Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Working Groups

Each working group is currently developing priorities and plans which will be published soon.

Working Group 1: Inclusive employment

Group leads: Mark Beard from Beard Construction and High Sherriff for Oxfordshire, and Phil Southall from Oxford Bus Company.

This working group is focussing on employers as well as target groups of employees such as migrants/refugees, people returning to work after a long break, and BAME people in the age ranges 16-25 and 54+.

We are looking at working with employers – how can they become more open to a wider group of potential employees? How can changes to recruitment practices support work opportunities for people currently excluded?

How can we help people to understand the full range of career opportunities and how can we prepare them for work?

Working Group 2: Educational attainment

Group leads: Jeremy Long from OxLEP and Bernard Grenville-Jones from Activate Learning.

This working group is focusing on early years education and support, educational attainment and better links between business and education links to help shape career choices. There are 3 key priority areas of work:

Mentoring – How can we develop a mentoring scheme for young people?
Parental Advocacy – Actively listening to more parents and responding to their issues and insights.
Voluntary Action – How can we develop a framework to extend volunteering to support learning, and improve signposting to wider support?

 

Working Group 3: Social value and procurement

Group lead: Grant Hayward from Oxfordshire Social Enterprise Partnership (OSEP).

This working group is focusing on maximising the social, community, and environmental value delivered through the spending power of Oxfordshire organisations.

Spending money locally puts money back into the local economy and creates opportunities for local businesses – we are looking at how we can grow the amount of money that is spent within our county, for our county.

We are also looking at how the businesses that benefit from this are investing into our local communities, through jobs, training or improving our environment.

Working Group 4: Place-based interventions

Group leads: Rosie Rowe from Oxford County Council and Sara Fernandez from Oxford Hub

 

 

This working group is providing data and analysis to identify where the greatest need is for specific projects, ensuring targeted investment into the areas of the county that need it most.

 

How can you get involved?

The Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership is still in early stages of its work, but we are keen to hear from individuals, companies and organisations that would like to be involved – in the words of the Partnership’s co-chair, Jan Royall, “There is so much to build on, so much to do, but a lot of people who are willing to collaborate.”

If you would like to know more about the work or opportunities to support the Partnership, please contact inclusiveoxfordshire@oxford.gov.uk.

 

Coming soon

The Partnership is developing a charter and pledges to help individuals, companies and organisations to set out ways in which they will help deliver the ambitions and activities to create an inclusive economy for Oxfordshire.

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