The question of how equal society is and where inequalities lie will be explored by a new Tackling Inequalities Commission.
Set up by the Shetland Partnership – a joint board including both council and health board representatives – the commission will study key issues between now and December.
It will tackle key issues such as:
• How equal is Shetland society?
• What inequalities exist, and why?
• What kind of impact does any inequality have?
• What needs to be done to reduce any inequalities that do exist?
The commission will sit for six half-day sessions between July and December, taking evidence from a so-called “broad spectrum” of organisations and individuals.
A final report, including the evidence gathered, potential solutions and recommendations will be published by March next year.
The first session, to be held tomorrow, will focus on understanding and defining inequalities in Shetland. Later sessions will look in more detail at household income, EU, national and regional policy, geography and communities and education, skills and employment.
A group of about 20 people have been invited to participate as commissioners, bringing a mixture of experience, skills and knowledge to the table. They’ve been selected from the local community and from farther afield, with representatives from Cosla, the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish government attending for some sessions.
Chairman of the Shetland Partnership Board and NHS Shetland, Ian Kinniburgh, said inequality was one of the most “pressing issues” facing people in the isles.
“To reduce inequalities across our communities requires a concerted effort and commitment from everyone, which is why the Shetland Partnership is best placed to establish this commission and ensure its recommendations are carried out.”
Vice-chairman Gary Robinson added: “Our commissioners come from all walks of life, and we particularly welcome the input from outside the isles, which will hopefully improve understanding of inequalities in rural areas at a national level.
“Together we will listen to evidence, understand and unpick key issues, and hopefully come up with solutions where any areas of inequality are highlighted. For the first time, we have the opportunity to fully understand the issues faced in Shetland and develop far-reaching recommendations which could have a significant impact on people’s lives.”