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Equality North East

Equality North East’s response - In answer to Theresa May’s announcement to ‘scrap’ the Socio Economic Duty

Home Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Theresa May, recently announced that the new legal requirement for public sector, the ‘Socio Economic Duty’ will be scrapped. The Socio Economic Duty, a key part of the Equality Act, would have required most public bodies to assess whether they were addressing inequalities caused by class factors, encouraging them to improve, for example, health and education outcomes in more deprived areas.
Equality North East was quick to respond to what they see as a disappointing backwards step in the road to achieving equality.

Liz Reay, Chief Executive, Equality North East said:

“As an organisation that works towards achieving equality in the region, we are aware that socio-economic disadvantage still leads to significant inequalities especially in the North East Region where the level economic disadvantage is one of the highest in the country.

Although the Socio Economic Duty was in itself a very small measure, it could have challenged the way public bodies work to help narrow the gaps between rich and poor and make our society a fairer place to live.
“We see this duty as being more important than ever in the light of the new spending cuts. It is acknowledged from many independent sources that the public sector cuts are going to impact hardest on the poorest people in our society. Many of the services provided for vulnerable and disadvantaged people will be cut. The Socio Economic Duty will have at least provided some limited protection by encouraging a more strategic approach to assessing the impact of the cuts on those disadvantaged by poverty.

“The duty like other public sector duties may have been seen as a ‘tick box exercise and bureaucracy’ but we know from the good practice that we have seen in the Public Sector that it if it implemented in a sensible and proportionate way there can be very beneficial outcomes for society as a whole. Theresa May said ‘You can’t make people’s lives better by simply passing a law saying that they should be made better.’ We agree, legislation on its own will never achieve equality but we would argue that without it we would be in a sorry state today.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Equality North East is an independent, not-for-profit company based in the North East but operating throughout the UK. Its overriding aim of “leading the way to a fairer future”, is supported by providing employers and employees with a range of services to help remove the barriers in employment and entry to employment.

Press enquiries to:

Lisa Wallace at lisa.wallace@equality-ne.co.uk or 0191 4956262

November 19, 2010

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