Public bodies forced to prioritise poverty and equality

Victoria quay 2

New legislation in Scotland will make public bodies consider how the wider public is affected by decision making 

19th July 2017 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

Public bodies in Scotland will be made to put poverty and inequality at the heart of decision making as part of new legislation.

Socio economic duty was part of the UK government’s Equality Act 2010 but never implemented.

The Scottish Government is now pressing ahead alone and is seeking views on how best to apply the duty across the public sector.

It will mean bodies like councils and the NHS must consider what more they can do to reduce poverty and inequality, whenever they make major decisions.

A consultation will ask which public bodies should be subject to the duty and what they need to do to demonstrate they are carrying it out.

Equalities secretary Angela Constance said: “Tackling inequalities will never be an optional extra for this government – it is core to everything we do. Implementing this duty, and requiring public bodies to put reducing inequalities at the heart of their decision making, is an important step.

“It further contributes to our actions on inclusive growth, ensuring increased economic prosperity goes hand in hand with a fairer, more equal country.

“Our action on inequalities is in stark contrast to the UK government, who have refused to implement this requirement to reduce inequalities through decision making - all while scrapping child poverty targets.

“Instead we are ensuring our public bodies listen to and respond to the views of communities, particularly those with direct experience of poverty.”

John Wilkes, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, added:

“For the first time public bodies will be required to set out how their plans will help in reducing poverty. In recent years the number of people living in poverty has shrunk, but poverty has become more concentrated in some communities.

“The new duty will help by focussing on how major decisions like the type of housing we build, our transport strategies and investment plans can narrow the gaps in experience between the most and the least advantaged in Scottish society. 

For the first time public bodies will be required to set out how their plans will help in reducing poverty - John Wilkes

“As regulator, we stand ready to ensure the Scottish Government make the most of this opportunity and will be pushing for similar moves by the government in Westminster.”

Constance launched the consultation while visiting the Star Project in Paisley, a community resilience and support programme that works in partnership with Renfrewshire Council to tackle poverty and deprivation.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson, said: “We know the reasons behind poverty and deprivation are complex, which is why understanding local issues and providing opportunities that really support people and families, where and when they need it, continues to be vital for Renfrewshire.

“Acting locally in partnership with organisations like the Star Project makes a real difference to the lives of many families and this supports parents and carers to ensure children feel healthy, happy and valued, no matter how much money is in a household.”

21st July 2017 by Farflung

Sheer hypocrisy. There are plenty anti-poverty policies and commitments already in place - which are conveniently ignored when decisions are taken. For example, in transport policy, unlimited `investment' in roads, cutting of air passenger duty alongside withdrawal of support for bus services, or rail services to disadvantaged communities

25th July 2017 by Ron Carthy

Tokenistic PR encouraging "creative" presentations of existing policy and practice. Window dressing of strategy