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Equity and Inclusion Scheme 2022-24

Achievements and progress

Since the publication of our 2017 Equality Scheme, we delivered a number of schemes and initiatives that had positive equality
and inclusion impact and continued to work collaboratively with partners to generate
real improvements in the lives of people in
the West Midlands, supporting the most vulnerable in our communities and helping grow our regional economy. Some key external and internal highlights are outlined below:

External initiatives with positive inclusion impact
  • Launched an apprenticeship scheme, offering all 16 to 18 year olds (not just those in full time education) a 50% fare reduction across rail, bus and tram services, enabling an extra 100,000 young people to benefit

  • Launched a ‘Baby on Board’ and a “Please offer me a seat” scheme which support pregnant women and disabled people travelling by public transport by providing a badge or/and card that encourages other passengers to offer them a seat.

  • Implemented a Women’s Concessionary Fares scheme aimed at supporting those women worst affected by changes to State Pension Age

  • Continued offering free concessionary travel on all modes of transport for disabled people, older people and discounted travel for younger people

  • Further reduced crime on bus, train and metro through the Safer Travel Partnership and progressed the delivery of Bus related Byelaws, addressing various types of anti- social behaviour.

  • Delivered a number of bus station, interchange and infrastructure

  • improvements, bus priority measures and successfully completed further Metro extensions

  • Refreshed the West Midlands Bus Alliance deliverables to support the Vision for Bus and incorporated specific equality and accessibility commitments (e.g. further roll outs of next stop on board announcements on buses)

  • Widely rolled out our Swift ticketing products and developed a new Fares and Payment strategy which supports the roll out of Swift on Rail, Apps and Swift Account based ticketing with Best Value Capping to ensure people are more easily aware of the best and most affordable ticketing options for them

  • Expanded rail capacity and launched the West Midlands Grand Rail Collaboration to tackle train service performance, simplify fare structures and improve the quality of trains and stations

  • Delivered a number of walking and cycling programmes and managed the Better Streets Community fund to help communities across the West Midlands improve their streets for cycling and walking

  • Initiated new partnerships to develop travel support packages for low income groups

  • Trialled new Demand Responsive transport initiatives and continued with on-going improvements to the Ring and Ride service, a door-to-door service for people who find it difficult or impossible to use public transport

  • Developed a Regional Integrated Control Centre to improve resilience on the road, rail and tram networks and help improve travel disruption information

  • Continued delivery of the award-winning Workwise project supporting people back into employment.

  • Produced and promoted a number of accessibility products to help support travel for disabled people and worked in partnership with National Express and
    key regional and local disability groups to develop a disability awareness training DVD for bus operator in the region and beyond
Productivity and Skills
  • Launched and delivered an employment support pilot aimed at supporting unemployed people or people on low incomes to progress into and within work

  • Delivered a construction Gateway retraining programme which offers unemployed people free construction training and a guaranteed job interview at the end of the course

  • Provided mentoring opportunities for young people in the region to raise and support levels of aspiration across the region

  • A regional network of technical education and training has been established – such as the Digital Retraining fund, Digital Skills Pilot and Digital boot camps supporting digital skills development and enabling people to enter the digital sector

  • Positive action digital training initiatives have been delivered for underrepresented groups e.g. Black Codher

  • Worked with businesses to boost apprenticeship take up in the region and supported unemployed young people through a progression coaches model

    to help them find work and training opportunities

  • Developed a new approach to commissioning and delivering provision funded through the Adult Education budget and supported unemployed people and those on low wages to upskill enabling them to improve employment prospects

Housing and Land
  • Established a regional approach to defining housing affordability, ensuring that our funding is used to secure housing that reflects local incomes and local needs and channelled WMCA investment through our Single Commissioning Framework to ensure enhanced design quality and higher levels of affordability.
  • Launched our regional Design Charter, providing an extra tool to secure good design and high-quality development.
  • Enabled a significant increase in new homes since 2017, exceeding the target trajectory in the Combined Authority’s Housing Deal to deliver 215,000 new homes by 2031.
  • Effectively deployed devolved land funds - directly acquiring, assembling and remediating land where there is clear market failure.
  • Worked with local councils and partners to repurpose and reinvigorate town centres and maximise the growth potential of transport hubs and corridors.
  • Brought forward brownfield sites for development, many of which have been dormant for decades, through our regional pipeline of housing and commercial sites, including opportunities in town centres and along key transport corridors.
Wellbeing and Prevention
  • Developed a Population Intelligence Hub in collaboration with Public Health England and local partners to provide in-depth and timely intelligence on local public health.

  • Developed a wellbeing dashboard to drive future decision making, in line with tools and analyses developed to measure and benchmark the impact of inclusive growth policies.

  • Launched and extended the “Thrive into Work” Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Pilot which helps people with physical or mental ill health into jobs, with over 700 people successfully securing jobs already

  • Initiated plans for an IPS Academy to train provider staff and expand delivery

  • Launched and continue to deliver “Thrive at Work”, an accreditation scheme which helps companies embed wellbeing into their business, with a strong focus on men- tal health and wellbeing as well as positive equality outcomes for staff, with over 500 businesses joining the programme and 50 already accredited

  • Championing “Include me” West Midlands, a regional approach to making the West Midlands an exemplar region for engaging disabled people and people with long term health conditions to be physically active including 67 organisations pledging their commitment to change & new Disabled Citizens Network.

  • Developed and continuing roll out of “West Midlands on the Move”, a Physical Activity Strategy which promotes physical activity and wellbeing, including a collaborative leadership programme to address inequalities, creating new public active spaces in deprived areas and expanding Goodgym delivering over 6000 community projects.

  • Supported the effort for Placed Based Health & Care through key stakeholder engagement and collaboration

  • Established a Covid-19 Task & Finish group to develop a regional health inequalities programme

  • Produced the Health of the Region 2020 report setting out persistent and widening health inequalities in the region and calling for systemic change.

Public Service Reform and Social Economy
  • Created supporting structures and tools to enable policy and decision-makers to do ‘inclusive growth in practice’. The tools – including the Inclusive Growth Framework, Decision-Making Toolkit and Tests have been used to develop strategy and investment proposals in the East Birmingham and North Solihull areas.
  • Established the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce to ‘design out homelessness’, which has brought in extra resources into the region across its work programme. This includes the Housing First pilot, which has to date supported 355 people into tenancies, and the RSI programme, which has supported 1,211 people to access housing and support services. The task force has also been invaluable in helping partners across the region to respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Delivered a veteran’s mental health and homelessness work programme, including direct support to veterans at risk of homelessness through a spot-purchase fund hosted by the Royal British Legion.
  • Developed a new regional, collaborative and scaled up approach to reducing violence, vulnerability and exploitation through the Violence Reduction Unit.
  • Published “Punishing Abuse”, a report that provides the evidence for the reform of youth justice services and for further discussion and collaboration between local authorities on the wider reform of services for children – leading to £1m of investment from NHS England to implement its recommendations within the health system.
  • Placed deliberative democracy at the heart of the community recovery programme by establishing a ‘citizens’ panel’ to shape ‘Levelling up the West Midlands, our roadmap to community recovery’.
  • In collaboration with WMCA’s Strategy di- rectorate, launched the Coalition for Digital Inclusion to tackle the digital divide in the West Midlands.

  • Worked with regional partners to build shared Public Service Reform commitments around prevention, addressing vulnerability and supporting greater place-based collab- oration.
Environment and Energy
  • Worked with regional partners to develop sustainable travel opportunities across the region to support inclusive growth.

  • Supported Energy Innovation Zones in the West Midlands, in partnership with LEPs, to address specific energy issues and help overcome barriers to affordable energy infrastructure provision

  • Designed a cross departmental, person centric, West Midlands Fuel Poverty pro- gramme with the West Midlands Fuel Poverty Task Force, which will support vulnerable people living in the West Midlands and ensure a strong local supply chain survives to deliver energy efficiency measure

  • Published a #WM2041 five year plan to help tackle climate change with an ambition target of becoming net zero carbon by 2041. The plans has inclusivity built within it, with proposals on tackling fuel poverty and a focus on working with the region’s businesses and education institutions to give local people the skills to work in the new green industries.
Inclusive Communities, Culture and Digital
  • Established a Young Combined Authority, bringing together a diverse board of young people, aged 16 – 25, from across the West Midlands to help guide and challenge the WMCA as it makes decisions which will shape the future of the region
  • Developed an Inclusive Leadership Pledge, encouraging leaders and employers across the region to commit to realising greater inclusivity within their organisations. This also included an awareness campaign and an online toolkit of advice for the campaign – over 250 organisations signed up to the pledge
  • Established a new Cultural Leadership Board promoting wider leadership and involvement in our region’s diverse range of culture. A key board objective is to sup- port diverse leadership and participation in culture
  • Established a leadership commission to explore why the leadership of the region does not reflect the diverse make up of our communities, which resulted in a recommendations report for how the whole region can work to improve diversity and inclusion at senior levels
  • Developed a digital Roadmap strategy to ensure the West Midlands becomes the UK’s best connected region and to ensure access for everyone to digital opportunities, particularly those in poverty


Internal organisational diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Delivered a range of equality awareness campaigns (a number of which have had direct senior leadership involvement), developed equality resources and provided structured training for staff and managers, including mandatory equality training, mental health awareness training, unconscious bias training and disability awareness training for customer facing staff
  • Introduced an “Employer Supported Volunteering Scheme” that allows staff up to 3 days per annum to support charitable causes of their choice

  • Gained Living Wage Employer accreditation by working with the Living Wage Foundation to agree milestones for the roll out of Real Living Wage across all of the WMCA’s third party supplier contracts.

  • Introduced a number of initiatives to sup- port positive mental health and wellbeing for staff, e.g. a “Mental Health Volunteering Buddies” scheme with trained volunteers

  • Developed a Domestic Violence policy to support employees who have or are experiencing domestic violence.

  • Amended our advertising templates to strongly highlight our commitment to equality, diversity, inclusion and equitable outcomes, whilst also encouraging under-represented groups to apply for roles.

  • Developed a “Building our Future Work- force” strategy designed to provide under-represented groups with the skills required for leadership roles as part of an overall learning and development strategy. The strategy also allows provisions for NEETs, care leavers, people with disabilities, homeless people, ex-offenders and Armed Forces Veterans.

  • Revised our recruitment policy so that all vacancies under a certain salary scale are advertised as apprenticeships.

  • Attained or/and retained a number of accreditations and quality marks, such as disability confident leaders status; Thrive at Work Wellbeing Accreditation; Armed Forces Covenant Gold award, and Leaders in Diversity Accreditation.

  • Recognised as an Inclusive Top 50 Employ- er for 3 years in a row and were included in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2021

  • Encouraged and supported the development of staff diversity networks and a well- being and inclusion group which oversees and advises on the development and implementation of the internal equality agenda

  • Developed a Reasonable Adjustments Poli- cy outlining our duty to provide reasonable adjustments and highlighting key roles and responsibilities

  • Significantly increased the percentage of disabled employees, young people and fe- male employees (including at senior levels) over the past 3 years