Agenda item

Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership Update

To consider a paper to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out an update on the progress of the Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership, (OIEP) and the development and launch of the OIEP Charter and associated pledges on 24 January 2023.


The Panel considered a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership updating them on the progress of the Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership (OIEP). This included the development and launch of the OIEP Charter and associated pledges on 24 January 2023.


Emma Coles, OIEP Manager, and Jeremy Long OIEP Co-Chair gave a short introductory presentation (available here) and answered questions from members. The Panel was informed that although Oxfordshire was perceived to be generally affluent with many successful businesses, real inequalities did exist. The mission of the OIEP was, therefore, to create a more equal and sustainable county that provided opportunities and benefits for all. To help achieve this aspiration, the OIEP was working towards tackling some of Oxfordshire’s biggest problems and, thereby, allow everybody to contribute and share in the county’s success. The launch of the OIEP Charter represented a significant introductory step in its development. The Charter’s purpose was to:


·           Mobilise support for Oxfordshire inclusive economy and raise awareness of it.

·           Publicly share commitments to inclusivity by individuals, businesses and organisations.

·           Set and raise standards around inclusive economy.

·           Encourage residents and businesses to work together to help protect Oxfordshire’s economy with the aim to prevent money leaving the county.


In discussion, members of the Panel welcomed the aspirations of the OIEP and the launch of the Charter. They, nevertheless, highlighted some areas of concern and also made suggestions for the OIEP’s consideration. Members also mentioned the need to ensure representation across all ages – in particular, from young people.


One member suggested that OIEP may be underestimating itself and what could be achieved in creating a more equitable and sustainable Oxfordshire. The view was expressed that ambitions of the OIEP (and the Charter pledges) were at quite a low level and relied primarily on voluntary actions. This meant that there was the possibility that an organisation or individual could benefit from the kudos of securing Charter pledge status without actually committing themselves to taking clear and definitive action. It was, therefore, suggested that the proposals should include greater detail on what the measurable output of the pledges could be. It was also proposed that there needed to be a greater focus on ownership structures – including both cooperative and community-owned models. Members of the Panel also referred to the link between inclusivity, sustainability and the procurement practices of local authorities and the broader public and private sectors.


The Panel was informed that the OIEP acknowledged many of these points/arguments and that it was their intention to grow and expand the Charter and its pledges after its credibility had been established. In relation to social procurement, the OIEP would welcome local authorities and other major procurers looking at their work as part of their social impact assessments. One of the aims of the OIEP’s proposals was to highlight and build upon the momentum of the good inclusivity practices that many organisations and companies already had in place. It also hoped to shine a light on the valuable work being delivered by local charities.


After further discussion, it was proposed that once an organisation has signed up to the OIEP Charter and its associated pledges there should be an evaluation of their delivery on these commitments – support should also be provided (possibly through a ‘buddy’ system and advice. It was also suggested that the planning system might offer a potential mechanism to secure inclusivity net gain via development. However, it was acknowledged that the legalities of this would need to be carefully considered.


Outcomes would be reported to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership in the future.


RESOLVED: The Panel recommended to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership that:


1.     Future Oxfordshire Partnership members, (particularly local authorities and their sub-contractors) should be ambitious in their response to the OIEP and set measurable targets around its work, for instance around the promotion of inclusive ownership models such as co-operatives and the use of purchasing power through social procurement strategies.


2.     It recognise the importance of improving work force diversity within the county by the encouragement of employers inside and outside the OIEP to set and disclose work force diversity targets.


3.     Encourage the OIEP take steps to seek age diversity of the attendees at the launch event.

Supporting documents: