Birmingham, inequality, & the socio-economic duty

This project has two processes that work toward gathering evidence for good practice in implementing the Socio-Economic Duty. One part is focused on working with people with lived experience of economic disadvantage in Birmingham – this is the “Cost of Inequality” part. The other is the Socio-economic Duty part. We are working with Birmingham City Council to support them to implement the Socio-economic Duty, which is part of the Equality Act 2010, but which has never been implemented nationally. The project will endeavour to look at inequalities through an intersectional lens and to work in partnership with those with lived experiences of the sharp end of inequality.

The Cost of Inequality

We are working with People’s Voice Media using their model of Community Reporting to develop a network of Community Reporters (CR) within Birmingham who are interested in telling personal stories about inequality in Birmingham. Over the course of the project, we will work with some of these Community Reporters to develop (via workshops, training, and mentoring) their knowledge and confidence around Socio-economic inequality and how to speak to power to advocate for positive socio-economic change on a systematic level. There will be workshops and capacity building of Community Reporters over the first six months. The project will then be developed in conjunction with these CR’s over the last six months of the project showcasing stories and knowledge in whatever way they determine. The project uses an asset-based approach.

The Socio-Economic Duty in Birmingham

The Socio-economic Duty (SED) requires public bodies to adopt transparent and effective measures to address the inequalities that result from differences in occupation, education, place of residence, or social class. Progress has already been made in parts of the UK. In April 2018 the Scottish Parliament enacted the Fairer Scotland Duty, which is the name given to the Socio-economic duty in Scotland. Wales in 2021 as well. A number of local councils in the UK have adopted some of the key policies of the Socio-economic duty. 

We will be working with Birmingham City Council to support them to implement the Socio-economic duty reflecting on best practices as highlighted in Just Fair’s briefing “Tackling Socio-Economic Inequalities Locally” – focusing especially on working with people with lived experience of the sharp end of inequality. Alongside this, we have convened an advisory panel made up of experts from the statutory and voluntary sectors with and without lived experiences of the sharp end of socio-economic inequalities. This panel will also help to inform our work with other local authorities outside of Birmingham, alongside research on its implementation. 

Bringing the two processes together in the final quarter of the project the aim is to create a sustainable long-term method of enabling those at the sharp end of inequality to inform good practice and accountability for the SED among public bodies within Birmingham.

This project is funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust under their Economic Justice stream.