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Local Elections and the Fairness five

Local elections offer a chance to decide how services are procured, housing is built, local economies are structured, or health services run. These things have a huge impact on our inequality crisis, and many local problems are themselves caused by inequality. Since 2022, we’ve been asking local political parties, candidates, and councillors to sign up to five pledges that we think any council could enact to make their community more equal.

1. Adopt the Socio-Economic Duty

By adopting the socio-economic duty, councils would have to examine the impact of their decision making on socio-economic inequality. The duty has been enacted nationally in Scotland and Wales as well as voluntarily by many councils across England.

2. Pay all directly contracted staff the real Living Wage 

Thousands of employers across the UK pay their staff the real Living Wage and are therefore ensuring that their employees receive a fair wage to help them face the cost of living crisis.

3. Ensure all council contractors are required to pay staff the real Living Wage and do not have Trade Union blacklists.

Many councils hold contracts with private businesses, ask your council to ensure that these contracts contain clauses that request businesses pay their staff the Real Living Wage and do not have Trade Union blacklists.

4. Put concrete processes/projects in place to encourage, listen and respond to people at the sharp end of inequality, especially young people.

Make sure that your council centres the voices of those with lived experience in policy making so that they develop the most equitable and effective responses to issues facing your community.

5. Publish a plan to reduce the pay ratio between the CEO and the lowest-paid directly employed council worker.

Inequality increases when there are big differences between the pay of those at the top of a company or organisation when compared to those at the bottom. By reducing this pay ratio the council will be contributing to reducing pay inequality


We know that more equal societies work better for everyone – and many of the things affected by inequality, including crime, health, education, or the strength of the local economy, are key issues in these local elections. These pledges are already reducing inequality around the country, from the socio-economic duty in Newcastle City Council to the dozens of councils committed to paying the real living wage.

Since launching the pledges, Manchester and Leeds councils have begun implementing pledges, with Living Wage for all council staff adopted and Manchester planning to adopt the Socio-Economic Duty “in due course”. Bolton also tells us they’ve made progress on the spirit of the pledges.