Most voters want the socioeconomic duty to be enacted, poll finds

Despite promising to "level up" poorer areas, the government has refused to enact an existing law that is designed to do just that.

29 Jan 2021| News

A poll by Opinium and reported in the Independent has found that just 6% of voters do not want a law that requires government and public bodies to make their decisions with “due regard” to socioeconomic inequality.

The socioeconomic duty was part of the Equality Act 2010, which was passed in the dying days of the last Labour government, but the Coalition government and subsequent Conservative governments have chosen not to enact it.

Opinium’s poll, which was commissioned by the campaign group Compassion in Politics, found that 57% of voters want the duty to be enacted now.

“If this had been in place in 2010, then we might not have seen the drastic cuts made by public bodies over the past decade,” Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, said.

“Importantly, at a time when we know inequality has increased, with covid-19 playing a part, it is even more crucial to introduce this. If the government really wants to level-up, then it could commence the Duty very quickly.”

Johnson’s administration has from the very start promised to make life better for those in poorer areas and Equalities Minister Liz Truss indicated in a controversial speech in December that the work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission would be refocused onto the plight of white working-class people rather than on race and gender discrimination.

Despite this, a spokesman for the government told the Independent: “The policy objectives of the socioeconomic duty do not align with the government’s agenda for greater social mobility, and there are no plans to implement the socioeconomic duty for English and cross-border bodies”.

Co-Director of Compassion in Politics, Jennifer Nadel, believes that refusing to enact the Duty goes against the will of the people.

“This is clear evidence of a growing desire amongst the British public for their government to take real and momentous action to tackle poverty and inequality,” she said. “The government is now out of step with the public.”