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North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) have taken an important step towards tackling socio-economic inequalities across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.  On 2nd June 2020, the Authority’s Cabinet approved the implementation of Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, the socio-economic duty, through their updated Equality and Diversity policy. They are the only combined authority in England to do so to date.

NTCA commented: 

“Our intention in adding a socio-economic duty that will be incorporated into our Equality Impact Assessments is specifically to address socio-economic disadvantage. We know that we will not achieve our ambition for an inclusive economy without proactively seeking to tackle poverty through a range of measures from employability to skills, ensuring we support those individuals and communities who need it most.”

The socio-economic duty requires public bodies to consider the way in which their decisions increase or decrease inequalities that result from socio-economic disadvantage.  The UK Government has not commenced enforcement of the duty in England, although progress has been made in Scotland, with the Scottish Parliament enacting the Fairer Scotland Duty in 2018. 

Inequality harms physical and mental health, self-esteem, happiness, sense of trust and civic participation. Inequality is both a cause and a result of human rights abuses. NTCA’s important decision is an important reminder that inequality is not inevitable, and can be tackled by public authorities. 

Just Fair continues to work with councils across England to support implementation of the duty.