The UK is one of the most economically and socially unequal countries in the developed world. However, the government does have an opportunity to change this: the never-enacted socio-economic duty, section 1 of The Equality Act 2010. After the 2010 election, the then-government decided not to bring the socio-economic into force – but it’s still possible to enact it now.

Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 introduces a socio-economic duty on public bodies:

“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 socio-economic duty 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. However, successive governments have refused to enact it as law.




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 followed in March 2021, and a number of local councils in the UK have adopted some of the key policies of the socio-economic duty. So far North Tyneside Council, Newcastle City Council, South Tyneside Council, and Middlesbrough Council, among others, have decided to treat the socio-economic duty as if it were in force.

What are we striving to achieve?

The goal of this campaign is for the government to trigger the socio-economic duty, section 1 of the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Trust is working with Just Fair and 60 other individuals and groups to achieve this.

Working under the #1forEquality campaign banner, we asked MPs to support our Early Day Motion 591, on the commencement and enforcement of the socio-economic duty, in 2017. We had the support of 82 MPs, and in the years after grew support across parties. At a local level, the Fairness Five pledges to enact the socio-economic duty at a local level won support from several major city council.

The Labour Party included enacting the socio-economic duty in their manifest for the 2024 general election, and we joined the General Federation of Trade Unions on Make Equality Real to demand that promise is kept.

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