Socio-economic duty

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The Equality Act 2010 contains a valuable tool to ensure poverty is given due consideration by public bodies when making strategic decisions and designing services: the socio-economic duty.

This duty contained in Section 1 of the Act would require public authorities to actively consider the way in which their decisions increase or decrease inequalities that result from socio-economic disadvantage. Sadly, the UK government has not commenced the duty, and socio-economic disadvantage is often missing from equality impact assessments that include consideration of other protected characteristics. However, the duty is now in force in Scotland (‘Fairer Scotland Duty’) (and is also being taken forward in Wales), and some local authorities in England are voluntarily implementing it (e.g. Newcastle City Council).

GMPA believes that public bodies in Greater Manchester can learn from other areas and think about how they can apply the duty. It is important that socio-economic assessments are included when public bodies are undertaking equality impact assessments of projects and activities.

As part of our work in response to the spread of COVID-19, GMPA developed a briefing to support local authorities consider poverty and socio-economic status in assessment of community responses to the pandemic.

Further resources

There are a number of useful resources for organisations interested in applying the socio-economic duty.

The Equality Trust

A useful article on the Oxford Human Rights Hub

A 2018 report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission detail progress on socio-economic rights in Great Britain

Just Fair

You can find details of activity in Scotland, where the duty has been introduced by the Scottish Government here.

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