With Senedd Cymru passing the Socio-economic Duty regulations last night, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt hailed it as a truly a ground-breaking moment in the history of Wales.
Jane Hutt stated:
One of our key objectives as a Government is to ensure that we deliver a more equal and fair society for the people of Wales. With the passing of the Socio-economic Duty regulations through the Senedd Cymru, we have taken a major step in strengthening and advancing equality and human rights.
The Duty will ensure that specified public bodies across Wales consider how the decisions they make will help reduce inequality experienced by so many as a result of social and economic disadvantage, contributing to a more equal Wales.
Ensuring that we tackle inequality is a moral duty that we must all take seriously, we can no longer push the problems people face into the long grass, that’s why the Socio-economic Duty is so historic. It will further help tackle the uncertainty of EU Exit and our recovery from Covid-19, allowing us to move towards reconstruction of a fairer and more prosperous Wales.” This is truly a ground-breaking moment in the history of Wales.
Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales stated:
The socio-economic duty is a powerful mechanism to help us meet the goal of a More Equal Wales.
We must integrate this with other existing duties and think holistically. You can use the socio-economic duty to inform your wellbeing assessments, plans and objectives.
Everything is connected to everything; by addressing socio-economic disadvantage, you will be contributing to all the wellbeing goals. Don't see it as an added extra, embed it in everything you do.
Cllr Mary Sherwood (Swansea), WLGA Joint Spokesperson for Equalities, Welfare Reform and Anti-Poverty said:
The new socio-economic duty comes in at a time when poverty in Wales has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.
The duty will help councils and public bodies ensure that, when taking key strategic decisions, they consider the impact on outcomes for those who experience social and economic disadvantage.
Many councils have already begun to embed the principles and processes around this new duty but it will change the way decisions are made, ensuring public bodies anticipate the impacts of strategic decisions on people on low incomes.
It aims to unlock the potential of the Equality Act and will help us achieve a more equal Wales.
Rev Ruth Coombs, Head of Wales at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said
We warmly welcome that the Welsh Parliament has voted to bring the Equality Act’s Socio-economic Duty into force in Wales.
The duty provides a crucial new lever to help reduce the impact of poverty. We want to see the duty influencing strategic priorities and budget-setting, so that public bodies prioritise reducing the most pressing inequalities experienced by people in Wales. Unless these inequalities are addressed now, the disadvantage faced by many people in Wales will be entrenched for generations to come.