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, if enacted, would require public authorities to actively consider the way in which their decisions increase or decrease the inequalities that result from socio-economic disadvantage.
Whilst the UK government has yet to commence the duty, the need to formally recognise and address socio-economic disadvantage alongside other forms of inequality has never been more clear, as those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds have experienced some of the most severe health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
We believe that, if implemented, the socio-economic duty would provide a powerful foundation for the fairer society we all want to see. This is why Thrive Teesside, in partnership with Shelter, Amnesty International, Just Fair, The Equality Trust, Greater Manchester Poverty Action, Equally Ours, Compassion in Politics and Runny Mede have launched a practical guide to implementing the socio-economic duty. This guide is intended for local and combined authority officers, local councillors and metro mayors in England who are interested in tackling socio-economic disadvantage. The guide draws on examples of best practice from across the UK, including in Scotland and Wales, where the duty is now in force, and also a number of local authorities in England that have adopted the duty voluntarily. We hope that this guide will support local authorities and combined authorities to effectively voluntarily adopt and implement the socio-economic duty, in partnership with people with lived experience of socio-economic disadvantage.Socio-Economic-Duty-Guide-Final