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1forequality

 

1forEquality is a campaign led by Just Fair and The Equality TrustIts 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.

What is the socio-economic duty?

It has been over ten years since the Equality Act 2010  came into force. This Act brought together 116 pieces of anti-discrimination legislation and requires 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 enacted the duty as part of its programme to help public bodies deliver A More Equal Wales. Read this report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, ‘Evaluating the socio-economic duty in Scotland and Wales‘ (March 2021).

Unfortunately, the duty is not yet implemented in England or Northern Ireland. However, there are a number of English local authorities (see below) who are undertaking activities designed to tackle socio-economic disadvantage and therefore are acting in the spirit of the duty.

What can you do?

If you are a local authority officer, councillor or politician

Check our News and Events page to find out when the next event is or contact our Head of Policy, Research and Campaigns on [email protected]

We presented a motion to local authorities in the North East of England in March 2019. The motion asked councils to support social rights activities in their areas. We also asked them to urge the Government to make social security payments reflect the cost of living. Councils supporting this called for an end to the two-child limit and the benefit freeze.

The motion passed in:

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.

To find out more information about the socio-economic duty and our campaign please contact ‘[email protected]‘. 

 

1ForEquality Campaign

In 2017 we launched the 1forEquality campaign with our partner The Equality Trust. This NGO campaign group now includes members such as Thrive Teesside, Greater Manchester Poverty Action, Amnesty International UK, Equally Ours, Shelter, Runnymede Trust, Royal College of Physicians and Compassion in Politics.

In 2018 the campaign published a report ‘Tackling socio-economic inequalities locally’ which examined good practices in local authority implementation of the duty. An Early Day Motion on the commencement and enforcement of the duty received support from 83 cross-party MPs in the 2017-2019 UK Parliament.

In 2019 we presented a motion to local authorities in the North East of England asking them to support social rights activities in their areas. The motion passed in North Tyneside Council, Newcastle City Council, South Tyneside Council, and Middlesbrough Council.

In 2020 the ‘Lawrence Review’ recommended that the UK Government enact the socio-economic duty in order to tackle structural racism.  In addition, Conservative Christian Wakeford MP declared his support for enacting the duty.  The Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA), urged the UK Government to use the duty to address health inequalities.

In 2021 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report Evaluating the socio-economic duty in Scotland and Wales‘ cited our research. We also published ‘A Practical Guide for Local Authority Implementation of the Socio-Economic Duty in England’. Following evidence from members of the 1ForEquality campaign group, the cross-party Women and Equalities Select Committee recommended that the UK Government commission a pilot to establish the costs and benefits of different approaches to voluntary adoption of the socio-economic duty in England.

Debbie Abrahams MP said that in 2022 she will be presenting a Private Members’ bill aimed at introducing duty into law. 

At local level we have been working closely the EHRC and public authorities who are interested in voluntarily implementing the duty. We developed a briefing on the duty and Covid-19 recovery, delivered regional webinars, developed, and communicated a practical Guide for implementation and supported peer learning for over 70 local authorities.  With our support, at least 5 local authorities have now voluntarily enacted the duty – check out the section below for further details.

1ForEquality and Local Authorities in England

To address inequality, we are working to encourage local councils to implement the socio-economic duty. Doing so is a positive step towards tackling inequality across the England.  Organisations that have taken this important step so far include:

In addition, Stroud District Council has recently completed a public consultation on their Draft Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, which included a commitment to implement the duty. 

Please click here for more information about 1forEquality in the North East region. 

Click here for examples of Social Rights Council Motions.

Our Research

A Practical Guide for Local Authority Implementation of the Socio-Economic Duty in England

The extent of wealth and income inequality is of widespread concern in England. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the consequences of socio-economic inequalities into sharp focus, highlighted the intersecting nature of inequalities, and the way socio-economic disadvantage compounds inequalities across gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexuality. 

Working with partners Greater Manchester Poverty Action, Thrive Teesside and many others, we have developed a practical guide for local authorities and combined authorities in England to support them to voluntarily adopt and implement S1 of the Equality Act – the socio-economic duty, in partnership with people with lived experience of socio-economic disadvantage.

Tackling socio-economic inequalities locally

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.

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

This animation answers the following questions:
  • 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?

We thank Kind Studio for producing the animation on the socio-economic duty.

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.

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.

Check our News and Events page to find out when the next event is or contact our Head of Policy, Research and Campaigns on [email protected]

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.

UK Parliament in London

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.

North East statue

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.

Highlights in our blogs

For more information about the socio-economic duty and our campaign please get in touch with us ‘[email protected]‘.