1forEquality is a campaign led by Just Fair and The Equality Trust. Its aim is to urge the UK Government to put in place the Socio-Economic Duty by commencing Section 1 of the Equality Act. Many groups and individuals support the campaign because it is a useful tool for tackling inequality at a local level.
It has been ten years since the Equality Act 2010 came into force. This Act brought together 116 pieces of anti-discrimination legislation in to require equal treatment in private and public services, and access to employment, for the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 introduces a socio-economic duty on public bodies that requires them:
‘when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise its functions’ to ‘have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.’
Public bodies are asked to consider how their decisions and policies could increase or decrease inequality that results from socio-economic disadvantage.
Despite being passed by UK Parliament in 2010, successive UK governments have refused to bring Section 1 into force.
In April 2018, the Fairer Scotland Duty came into force as Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 in Scotland. This duty requires local authorities to actively consider how they could reduce inequalities of outcome in any major strategic decision they make; and to publish a written assessment, showing how they have done this. After extensive consultations, the Welsh Government plans to enact the duty on 31 March 2021 as part of its programme to help public bodies deliver A More Equal Wales.
Unfortunately, the duty is not yet implemented in England or Northern Ireland. However, there are a number of English local authorities who are undertaking activities designed to tackle socio-economic disadvantage and therefore are acting in the spirit of the duty.
What is the socio-economic duty? Watch this short animation to find out
Please note that this animation is intended for local authorities in England
What is the socio-economic duty?
Where can you find the socio-economic duty?
Where is the socio-economic duty legally binding?
Which bodies are legally bound by the socio-economic duty?
A timeline of key dates relating to the implementation of the socio-economic duty across the UK
Why is enacting the socio-economic duty important?
Tackling socio-economic inequalities locally
The extent of wealth and income inequality is of widespread concern in England; yet there is no national policy agenda focused specifically on tackling disadvantage caused by socioeconomic inequality, whether by reducing poverty or promoting inclusive growth.
This research explores how a selected number of English local authorities are tackling socioeconomic disadvantage. It also examines how a legally enforceable duty in the form of section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 would support this endeavour.
This research involved desktop research and interviews with (among others) 20 individuals in seven local authorities: the Metropolitan Boroughs of Manchester, Newcastle, Oldham and Wigan; the Unitary Authorities of Bristol City and City of York; and the London Borough Council of Islington. Contact was purposefully pursued with authorities which would provide examples across council type, geographical location and political control.
Local authority workshops
While Section 1 is not yet legally binding in England or Northern Ireland, a number of local authorities in England have taken steps to reduce socio-economic inequality, such as North of Tyne Combined Authority.
We are holding workshops which inform local authorities about the socio-economic duty.
In November 2020, we held an online workshop for Greater Manchester local authorities and politicians to explore how the socio-economic duty is a useful tool for tackling inequalities. The event was hosted in partnership with the Equality Trust and Greater Manchester Poverty Action, with a speaker from England and Wales’ National Human Rights Institution, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. 61 cross-party representatives registered for the event, including four MPs.
Read the Greater Manchester Local Authority briefing here.
In October 2020, we held an online workshop for London local authorities and politicians to explore how the socio-economic duty working across London’s boroughs. The event was hosted in partnership with the Equality Trust and My Fair London, with a speaker from England and Wales’ National Human Rights Institution, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Over 40 local councillors and politicians registered for the event.
Read the London Local Authority briefing here.
In July 2020, and in partnership with the Equality Trust, we held an online workshop for North East England local authorities exploring how the socio-economic duty is a useful tool for tackling inequalities. Attended by 11 out of 12 of the local authorities in the region and 2 MPs, participants heard from Newcastle City Council and North of Tyne Combined Authority about their experiences of implementing the duty.
Read the North East Local Authority briefing here.
1ForEquality in the North East of England
To address inequality, we are working to encourage local councils in the North East to implement the socio-economic duty. Doing so is a positive step towards tackling inequality across the North East of England. Organisations within the North East that have taken this important so far include:
Newcastle City Council
Please click here for more information about 1forEquality in the North East region.
Highlights in our blogs
Socio-economic duty in COVID-19 recovery
Just Fair is urging local authorities to tackle socio-economic inequality in its COVID-19 recovery plans.
This is because all people need to live in security, peace and dignity with a guarantee of physical health and safety.
The socio-economic duty is a powerful tool which public bodies and the UK Government have at their disposal.
What can you do to support enactment and implementation of the socio-economic duty?
If you are a local authority officer, councillor, or politician
Check our Latest News and Events page to find out when the next event is.
Read our briefing on ‘Tackling Socio-economic Inequalities Locally: Good practices in the implementation of the socio-economic duty by local authorities in England’.
We set out findings from our interviews with 20 individuals and seven local authorities who are acting in the spirit of the socio-economic duty.
The research identified five features as being essential to local authorities’ efforts to initiate and sustain work to tackle socio-economic disadvantage and to ensure that it is rigorous and systematic.
Read the briefing here.
Showcase your implementation or support for implementation of the socio-economic duty by sharing the hashtag #1ForEquality and #SocioEconomicDuty when you are using social media.