Agenda item


The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       In March 2020 the council’s commitments to Inclusive Growth document was published. One key commitment was the development and implementation of an Inclusive Growth City Charter for Belfast. Since then a cross council team led by Strategy, Policy and Partnerships has been progressing the development of this charter. The purpose of this paper is to provide a short update on progress to date and proposed key activities going forward.


1.2       In addition we would like to inform Elected Members that the Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Christina Black and the Deputy Chair, Councillor Sarah Bunting, have been extended an invitation to attend the virtual launch event of the Inclusive Growth Network (IGN), of which Belfast City Council is a member, on Thursday 17 September from 3-4pm.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


a)    Note the progress to date in relation to the development of the charter and agree to an elected members workshop / engagement following the initial developmental stages.

b)    Note the proposed key stages of work going forward to shape the council’s future ambitions with regard to the development and implementation of a city charter for Belfast.

c)    Note the proposed attendance of the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee at the IGN virtual launch event.


3.0       Main report


            Inclusive Growth City Charter


3.1       Members will be aware that in 2019 they tasked officers with the production of a cross council ‘strategy’ to reflect their growing ambitions in relation to inclusive growth.  The result of this process was the production of the councils ‘Commitment to Inclusive Growth’.  This document sets out a clearly defined list of ambitions and linked actions as to how the council, in its capacity as a corporate body and as a city leader, will deliver against its commitment in the next two years. 


3.2       The document contained commitments that Belfast City Council would progress over the next two years, including the development of an Inclusive Growth City Charter for employers across the city – setting a city wide standard in relation to procurement, employment and civic / neighbourhood engagement. 


Inclusive Growth City Charter Working Group


3.3       An initial employer workshop was held in partnership with Allstate NI in Jan 2020, with over 70 employers from a wide range of sectors represented. It was agreed that a small working group would be convened with broad representation from this group, to help council shape and co-design the charter (nominees were received but the work was paused until May 2020 due to COVID).


3.4       The first working group virtual meeting was held on 21 July  2020 with almost all members in attendance.  The meeting aims and outcomes were to:


·         Bring working group members together to co-design the charter

·         Discuss and test emerging ideas, building on the January workshop, to scope the charter

·         Agree the purpose and role of the working group

·         Agree high level actions and responsibilities for the next 3 months


3.5       Initial feedback from the working group was very positive in terms of support for the charter. They felt that that given the unfolding COVID-19 crisis and the significant impact on the economy, the charter could be an opportunity to demonstrate a collective commitment to an inclusive recovery, creating a stronger, more resilient, and fairer city economy and society. The need to be ambitious in our thinking and to work in collaboration were highlighted as key design principles going forward.


3.6       This work is being completed in partnership with officers from Place and Economy and Finance and Resources to ensure the charter, when developed, fully reflects corporate priorities and ambition associated with, amongst other things, employment, procurement, young people and skills progression.  


Proposed Next Steps


3.7       Over the coming months the cross council team will complete the following steps:


·         Draft scoping note – draw up an initial scoping document (reflecting members ambitions and best practice from elsewhere) of a what a charter for Belfast could potentially look like by end August 2020.


This scoping document will set out in draft form options of, what the charter could be, who it’s for, it’s principles, focus, and suggestions as to how it could be developed and implemented for Belfast. This document will be used to guide the discussions as part of our further engagement with stakeholders.


·         Extensive engagement – engage with wide range of stakeholders to co-design the charter and seek their views on its design, during September to November 2020.


We recognise that for us to achieve our aim of a fit for purpose charter that is for all of Belfast and not just a council initiative, we must ensure our engagement is broad and has appropriate representation from key sectors. This stage is vital if we are to design a charter that that will meet the collective aspirations of the working group of being ambitious and making a tangible difference to the lives of citizens.


We will carry out meaningful engagement with a range of stakeholders including anchor institutions and other employers; community and voluntary sector; other public sector partners; communities; trade unions; those individuals that the strategy would focus on supporting (i.e. our four target groups) and representative bodies.


We have identified the purpose of the engagement as:


       Helping businesses and organisations understand what inclusive growth and a charter are;


       Testing the emerging ideas in the scoping note to co-develop and refine the Inclusive Growth City Charter;


       Achieving buy-in and ownership of the Inclusive Growth City Charter;


       Encouraging early adopters of the Inclusive Growth City Charter.


We will use the feedback already gathered from the consultation on the Inclusive Growth Commitments to inform our discussions and we will ensure we engage with those hard to reach groups who often face additional barriers to economic growth eg. those with a disability, those with dependants, those from a migrant community.


We will also carry out engagement through the strong sectoral partnership relationships in Place & Economy and will drive development of the structure through the Community Planning Partnership.


·         Members Workshop – following the above we will host a development workshop with elected members.  (December 2020)


Following our engagement we will summarise key findings and refine key principles and areas of focus to arrive at a final draft charter, including how it should be implemented and monitored.


·         Public consultation - Hold a focused public consultation on the draft charter.


We will carry out a focused public consultation on the draft charter using our on-line platform and some further focused sessions and make any final changes/amendments


·         Charter launch - Plan pilot and launch of the charter.


We will design a delivery plan and materials and agree a communications strategy and identify partners to launch the charter and carry out a pilot.


Inclusive Growth Network


3.8       The purpose of the IGN is to support areas at the forefront of the inclusive growth agenda with the practical evidence, knowledge and expertise to advance local ambitions for more inclusive, green and sustainable economies. The IGN is hosted by the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).


As an IGN member Belfast has access to a facilitated peer network and a package of support designed to inform and advance our local activity. Other IGN member organisations include Barking and Dagenham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool City Region, North Ayrshire, North of Tyne, Sheffield City Region and West Midlands.


IGN Launch Event – Thursday 17 September, 3pm- 4pm


3.9       The Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Christina Black and the Deputy Chair, Councillor Sarah Bunting, have been invited to attend a closed online roundtable discussion on Thursday 17 September from 3-4pm. Confirmed speakers include Lord Jim O’Neill and Meghan Harte, Director of LISC in Chicago and former Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.


            Financial and Resource Implications


3.10     There are no additional financial or resource implications. 


            Equality or Good Relations Implications/

Rural Needs Assessment


3.11     As agreed within the initial Inclusive Growth Commitments equality screening, a separate screening will be undertaken as part of the draft charter design process. The findings from the initial screening are already being utilised to inform the engagement design and content.”


            The Committee adopted the recommendations.


Supporting documents: