Fairness Commissions were first created in 2010 in order to ‘understand how local authorities can have an impact on inequality and poverty’ (New Economics Foundation, 2015). The Brighton and Hove Fairness Commission was launched in September 2015 by Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) as an independent body tasked with exploring issues that cause inequality and listening to the concerns of residents, community organisations and businesses. The Commission sought to hear as many views as possible through its survey and public meetings which were carried out alongside informal visits to organisations and themed public events. The Community University Partnership Programme created an important opportunity for the University of Brighton to play a crucial role in the collation, analysis and reporting of data collected throughout the Fairness Commission’s public consultation, which was conducted between September 2015 and April 2016.
To support the Commission’s work, our researchers created an academically-informed analytical strategy to help the Commission to extract key messages and ideas for improving fairness that the public conveyed during the consultation. The ‘Coding for Fairness’ team which included students, academics, representatives from Cupp and BHCC Public Health Intelligence analysed the public’s responses to the two ‘fairness questions’ that were asked on the commission website and as part of a city-wide survey. In total, 1334 qualitative responses were received in response to the fairness questions. The team ensured that each response was read and allocated an appropriate code so that Brighton and Hove residents’ views could be meaningfully and representatively reported.
This project marked an important collaboration between BHCC, the Fairness Commission, Cupp and the University of Brighton. Through combining our collective skills, interests and expertise we created a space that allowed students, academics and City Council colleagues to work together to ensure that the voices of Brighton and Hove residents were heard. We aim to ensure they can continue to be heard in the face of severe spending cuts to local authority budgets that are likely to have challenging consequences for the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents.