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Driving positive change to make a difference

Achievements and progress

Since we published our 2017 Equality Scheme, we’ve done various things improve the lives of people in the West Midlands, especially the most vulnerable people.

External initiatives with positive inclusion impact transport
  • We launched an apprenticeship scheme giving 16- to 18-year-olds half-price fares on rail, bus and tram services. This reached 100,000 young people who didn’t get the reduced fare before because they’re not in full-time education.

  • We launched a ‘Baby on Board’ and a ‘Please offer me a seat’ badge scheme for pregnant women and disabled people on public transport, to encourage other passengers to offer them a seat.

  • We implemented the Women’s Concessionary Fares scheme to support the women who were worst affected by changes to the state pension age.

  • We offer free travel on public transport for disabled people and older people, and cheaper travel for young people.

  • We reduced crime on public transport through the Safer Travel Partnership. We created new bylaws to deal with anti-social behaviour on buses.

  • We improved bus stations, interchanges and bus stops, added bus priority measures, and extended the Metro.

  • We added equality and accessibility actions to the West Midlands Bus Alliance action plan (part of the Vision for Bus strategy). For example, this includes using ‘next stop’ announcements more widely on buses.

  • We started using our Swift ticketing products more widely. This makes tickets easier to buy and more affordable. We plan to extend this approach, with Swift on Rail, Swift apps, and Swift account-based ticketing.

  • We increased rail capacity and launched the West Midlands Grand Rail Collaboration. This helps to make sure that trains run more reliably, fares are easy to understand, and trains and stations are high-quality.

  • We delivered walking and cycling programmes, and the Better Streets Community Fund to help communities make their streets better for cycling and walking.

  • We began work with new partners to look for new ways of making travel easier for low-income groups.

  • We ran a trial of Demand Responsive Transport, which provides travel on demand. We continued to improve the Ring and Ride door-to-door service for people who find it difficult or impossible to use public transport.

  • We set up a Regional Integrated Control Centre. It will help road, rail and tram networks to cope with pressure and it will give travellers better information when services are disrupted.

  • We continued the award-winning Workwise project, which gives free travel to newly employed people and apprentices.

  • We produced and promoted accessibility products to make travel easier for disabled people. We worked with National Express and regional and local disability groups to make a disability awareness training DVD for bus operators in the region and beyond.

Productivity and skills
  • We ran a trial of an employment support programme to help unemployed people and people on low incomes to get into and progress in work.

  • We offered unemployed people free construction training and a guaranteed job interview through the Gateway retraining programme.

  • We delivered mentoring schemes for young people, to raise their aspirations.

  • We set up a regional network of technical education and training. This includes the Digital Retraining fund, Digital Skills Pilot and Digital boot camps, to help people get digital skills and get into the digital sector.

  • We delivered digital training for under-represented groups.

  • We helped businesses to increase their numbers of young apprentices. We used progression coaches to help unemployed young people find work and training opportunities.

  • We started a new approach to adult education. This supported unemployed people and people in low-paid jobs to get new skills and improve their chances of finding a better job.

    Housing and land
  • We agreed a single regional definition of housing affordability and a framework to make sure that houses are good-quality and affordable. This helps us to make sure that local housing that suits local needs and incomes.

  • We launched a regional design charter. This is another tool that we can use to make sure housing is well designed and high-quality.

  • We have supported a big increase in new homes since 2017. We are on track to deliver more than our target of 215,000 new homes by 2031.

  • We used land funds to get hold of suitable land and make the best use of it.

  • We worked with local councils and partners to improve town centres, create more transport hubs, and make transport more efficient.

  • We identified ‘brownfield’ sites that may have been unused for decades, so that they can be redeveloped for positive uses.

  • We set up the Population Intelligence Hub, working with Public Health England and local partners. The hub is a way to share in-depth and up-to-date information about local public health.

  • We delivered the ‘Thrive into Work’ Individual Placement and Support Pilot. It has helped 550 people with physical or mental ill health to find jobs.

  • We launched the ‘Thrive at Work’ scheme to help companies to focus more on their staff’s wellbeing and mental health, including tackling inequalities. Over 400 businesses have joined the programme so far.

  • We continued ‘West Midlands on the Move’. This strategy promotes physical activity and wellbeing and tackles health inequalities. It has helped to create new public active spaces in deprived areas and expanded ‘Goodgym’, with over 6,000 community projects.

  • We supported better partnership working to make ‘place-based health and care’ as successful as it can be.

  • We set up a task group to plan a programme of activities tackling regional health inequalities in the context of Covid-19.

  • We developed the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Academy. This provides better support to help people with a mental health condition, disability or long-term condition find or stay in work, and to help businesses make their workplaces healthier.

  • We promote ‘Include me’ West Midlands. This programme aims to make the region a shining example for helping disabled people and people with long- term health conditions to be physically active. Sixty-seven organisations have signed a commitment to change, and a new Disabled Citizens Network has been set up.
Public service reform and improving quality of life
  • We gave policy- and decision-makers tools to make inclusive growth more central to how they work. Local authorities have already used these tools effectively in East Birmingham and North Solihull.
  • We set up the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce. This brought extra resources into the region to support its work, including the Housing First pilot (which has supported 355 people into tenancies so far) and the RSI programme (which has helped 1,211 people to get housing and support services). The taskforce has also helped partners in the region to respond to the challenges of the pandemic.
  • We ran a veteran's mental health and homelessness work programme to support veterans at risk of homelessness, with help from the Royal British Legion.
  • We developed a new, more effective regional approach to reducing violence and exploitation, through the Violence Reduction Unit.
  • We published Punishing Abuse, a report which gives evidence of the need to reform youth justice services and wider services for children. The NHS has invested £1m in following the report’s recommendations.
  • We involve communities in making decisions and setting priorities for the Covid recovery programme.
  • We launched the Coalition for Digital Inclusion to tackle the ‘digital divide’ between those who can access and use digital technology and those who cannot.
  • We worked with regional partners to make sure we’re all working towards the same aims.
Environment and energy
  • We worked with regional partners to develop more sustainable transport, such as eco-friendly buses.
  • We worked with Local Enterprise Partnerships to create Energy Innovation Zones in places that face energy issues like poor housing quality and insulation and fuel poverty. This helps us to focus on tackling these issues and make energy more affordable and efficient.

  • We designed a West Midlands Fuel Poverty programme with the West Midlands Fuel Poverty Task Force. This will support vulnerable people by promoting energy efficiency.

  • We published a #WM2041 five-year plan to help tackle climate change. Our ambition is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2041. Inclusivity is central to this. Actions will include dealing with fuel poverty and working with businesses, schools, colleges and universities to give local people the skills to work in the new green industries.
Inclusive communities, culture and digital
  • We set up the Young Combined Authority. This brings together a diverse group of young people, aged 16–25. It will help to guide and challenge decisions that WMCA makes about the future of the region.

  • We wrote an Inclusive Leadership Pledge to encourage leaders and employers to commit to being more inclusive in their organisations. This included an awareness campaign and online advice. Over 250 organisations signed the pledge.

  • We set up a Cultural Leadership Board to promote a cultural sector that better reflects the diversity of our communities. The board will support diverse leadership and participation in culture.

  • We set up a leadership commission to look at why the senior leadership of the region does not reflect the diversity of our communities. The commission made recommendations for how we can improve this.

  • We developed a digital strategy to make the West Midlands the UK’s best- connected region and give everyone access to digital opportunities, particularly if they are in poverty.
Organisational diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • We delivered equality awareness campaigns (some with senior leadership involvement), developed equality resources, and trained staff and managers on equalities, mental health, unconscious bias and disabilities.

  • We started a volunteering scheme that lets staff work for up to three days a year to support a charitable cause of their choice.

  • We got Living Wage Employer status and planned to expand the Real Living Wage to all organisations that deliver contracts for WMCA.

  • We introduced ways to support good mental health and wellbeing for staff. This includes a ‘Mental Health Volunteering Buddies’ scheme with trained volunteers.

  • We developed an approach to supporting employees who experience domestic violence.

  • We changed our advertising to make our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion more obvious and encourage people from under-represented groups to apply for jobs.

  • We developed the ‘Building our Future Workforce’ strategy. Among other things, this aims to give people from under-represented groups the skills they need for leadership roles. It helps young people not in education or training (NEET), care leavers, people with disabilities, homeless people, ex-offenders and armed forces veterans.

  • We changed our recruitment policy so that we now advertise all jobs below a certain salary as apprenticeships.

  • As a result of our work, we got or kept several accreditations and quality marks. These include Disability Confident Leader status, Thrive at Work Wellbeing Accreditation, an Armed Forces Covenant Gold award, and Leaders in Diversity Accreditation.

  • We have been recognised as an Inclusive Top 50 Employer for three years in a row. We were in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2021.

  • We supported staff diversity networks and a wellbeing and inclusion group. These groups advise on how to make our organisation more equal.

  • We produced a Reasonable Adjustments Policy. This describes what we will do to meet our legal duty to make our policies and actions more inclusive and avoid discriminating against anyone.

  • We have greatly increased our percentage of disabled, young and female staff (including at senior levels) over the last three years.