INEQUALITIES across Basildon will be tackled by a new £50,000 project.

Breakthrough Basildon Commission has been set up to improve the lives of people in the borough, and the new project was launched at the House of Commons on Monday night, at a reception hosted by Baroness Smith of Basildon.

With Basildon sitting as one of the most unequal boroughs in the country, the project was launched in an attempt to identify the cause of this inequality, and attempt to combat that with inclusive growth.

Gavin Callaghan, Labour Councillor for Pitsea North West, said: “We have got a stellar panel of people from across the country and the borough with real expertise and knowledge.

“We have already set dates to meet in the new year, where ideas for new policy and legislation will be put forward.

“There will be big changes in the near future, that will have a drastic and positive effect on a lot of people in the borough.

“We are not reinventing the wheel here, this is not about discussions, we know the issues, we know the problems we have with jobs and employment, but this is all about fixing those issues.

“We will be looking at what policies we can adopt, pilots we can involve ourselves with and funding streams we can apply for.

“The Essex economy is the same same as Northern Ireland, and Basildon is the engine for that, yet we are the fifth most unequal borough in the country, that tell us that something is not inclusive.

“We must change the status quo, and make a society which benefits all.

The project focusses on ‘inclusive growth’, in many areas inequality is growing as the benefits of economic growth go to the richest members of society, while inclusive growth means more people can contribute to and benefit from economic growth.

The details of initial work is currently being developed, but it is intended that the initial focus will be a strategic overview, resulting in a final report in March 2018 that will provide an initial perspective and form the basis for future policies, strategies and actions.

At the launch, Mr Callaghan, said: “We are the fifth most unequal borough in the country, and I want to know why.

“We have heard time and time again that it is just because of education, or because of health or because of housing but we have never been able to pinpoint one document that tells us these are the reasons why.

“Why inequality is so high in some parts of our borough and why wealth is so high in others.”

The panel and its activities will be independent from the council, but supported by it.

Lady Basildon, former MP for Basildon Angela Smith, said “I took my title to show my respect for the borough. Basildon gave me the opportunities that got me where I am today. I wish this important initiative every success.”