Calls grow for Government to reduce inequality and introduce the Socio-Economic Duty, as polling shows Public wants action 

The British Social Attitudes Survey reveals that:

  • 65% of the English and 72% of the Scottish public perceived the income distribution in Britain as unfair
  • 77% of respondents in England and 81% in Scotland feel that society today is not what it ought to be
  • 60% of respondents in England and 64% in Scotland think that the Government had been quite unsuccessful or very unsuccessful in reducing the difference between people on high incomes and low incomes, and
  • 71% of respondents in England and 75% in Scotland think that high earners should pay a much larger or larger share in tax.

The Equality Trust and Just Fair are stepping up their call for the enactment of the Socio-Economic Duty, Section 1 of The Equality Act 2010. It states that: “An authority to which this section applies must, when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise its functions, 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.”

The campaign has been strengthened this week by a call to enact the Socio-Economic Duty from the newly launched Inequalities in Health Alliance, a coalition of nearly 80 organisations, convened by the Royal College of Physicians. In polling carried out for the IHA, of those surveyed, 78% agreed (50% strongly) that all parts of Government in each part of the UK should have to consider the impact of their policies on people who are less well off. In addition, the Lawrence Review released this week, also recommended the enactment of the Socio-Economic Duty and Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams, has drawn up a Private Members Bill intended to introduce the Duty. Scotland has already introduced a version and Wales intends to and several local councils have introduced versions of the Duty. 

Dr. Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, said:

“It’s clear that the Public wants action on inequality and wants to see the rich pay a fairer share in tax. We’ve seen calls from a variety of sources now to support the introduction of the Socio-Economic Duty. As the Government continues to pledge to level-up, they already have a legal instrument ‘oven-ready’ to go, in the Socio-Economic Duty. As we see inequality increasing because of COVID19 and we head into a winter of recession, we call upon the Government to fulfil its pledge to fulfil United Sustainable Development Goal Number 10 -reducing inequality. 

“Reducing inequality is vital for better economic growth. However, more importantly, evidence shows that in countries with high levels of such inequality, we also see poorer mental and physical health, higher levels of imprisonment and violent crime, poorer educational outcomes and lower levels of trust. Inequality affects us all, but it is not inevitable. It is a policy choice.”


Notes to editors

The Equality Trust is the national registered charity that works to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing social and economic inequalities. UK income inequality is among the highest in the developed world. For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact our Senior Media and Communications Officer:


3. The Inequalities in Health Alliance is a coalition of nearly 70 organisations, brought together by the Royal College of Physicians, including faculties of health, royal colleges and The Equality Trust.  In October 2020, it wrote to the prime minister to ask the government to commence the socio-economic duty, section 1 of the Equality Act 2010.

4. Debbie Abrahams, MP article