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 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.
Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA) believes that public bodies in Greater Manchester can learn from other areas and think about how they can apply the duty. We are delighted that the duty is being taken forward by Salford, Trafford and Wigan councils and was recommended for adoption by the Combined Authority in the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities report.
GMPA’s guide details how local authorities (and other public bodies) should go about implementing the duty.
The guide is also of use to local authorities (and other public bodies) in other parts of England. It was developed by GMPA in partnership with Just Fair, Equality Trust, Amnesty, Compassion in Politics, Equally Ours, Runnymede, Thrive Teeside and Shelter.
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.
To read our 2020 EIA briefing please click here