Scottish Government consults on Equality Bill for public sector

The  Scottish Government has published a report following a consultation with the public sector on its views on whether the UK Equality Bill should introduce new socio-economic duties to Scottish public bodies.

The consultation asked whether the provision in the Bill to place a duty on certain public bodies to have due regard to socio-economic inequalities in strategic decision making (which, as the Bill stands, applies to England and Wales only) should be extended to Scottish public bodies.

69 written responses were received by the close of the consultation. Overall, there was a majority of respondents in favour of the application of the socio-economic duty to public authorities in Scotland.

A common theme was the existence of poverty and socio-economic inequality and other forms of inequality in Scotland, the impact of this and the need to address such issues. Others suggested a duty would ensure consistency and continuity of work to address socio-economic inequality and have a positive impact upon resources for such work and increase scrutiny of strategic decisions.

However, there were some perceived problems with the application of a socio-economic duty to public authorities in Scotland. Amongst these, a common theme was the existence of current arrangements and frameworks. There are also fears it would increase bureaucracy and make public authorities vulnerable to legal challenge and judicial review.

What is your view? Join the debate here.