Jane Hutt MS, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip
Today I am delighted to have laid the Equality Act (Authorities subject to a duty regarding Socio-economic Inequalities) (Wales) Regulations 2021 which will be debated in the Senedd Cymru on 9 March 2021.
The Regulations are a key lever to address socio-economic disadvantage in Wales.
The Regulations will amend section 1(3) of the 2010 Equality Act by adding relevant Welsh public authorities to the list, so that when section 1 of the 2010 Act is commenced, the Duty will apply to those Welsh bodies listed.
The Duty will require the public bodies listed, when making strategic decisions, such as deciding priorities and setting objectives, to consider how their decisions might help to reduce the inequalities associated with socio-economic disadvantage.
An Explanatory Memorandum, including Regulatory Impact Assessment, has also been published alongside the Regulations, and is available on the Senedd Cymru Website where a summary of the Integrated Impact Assessment to support the duty is also available.
I thought it would be helpful to provide a copy of the statutory guidance which will be published alongside commencement of the Duty. A copy of the guidance has been laid with the Table Office and is also available on the Senedd Cymru Website. This guidance will be formally issued subject the Senedd’s approval of the Regulations.
This statutory guidance has been developed in partnership with representatives of relevant public bodies, the TUC, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and third sector bodies. It builds on the learning from Scotland, who have commenced the Duty, and the interim guidance which I published on 1 April 2020. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this work.
The Statutory Guidance provides additional information on issues such as who the Duty applies to and why, enforcement and judicial review, responsibility for complying with the Duty, and annual reporting/ monitoring. The Socio-economic Duty webpages contain further co-produced resources which have been used to support public bodies prepare for the duty.
Whilst I acknowledge commencing the duty at this time, during a global pandemic, may not been seen by some as ideal. It is however my unequivocal view this duty is needed now more than ever as the impact Covid-19 is having on further exacerbating current inequalities in Wales. It has become clear that certain groups have been affected more than others – for example, ethnic minority communities, disabled people, women, and young people. The Duty is designed to improve that position for those suffering socio-economic disadvantage. Through the aforementioned co-produced interim guidance and published resources all I believe all reasonable measures have been taken to support public bodies prepare for commencement.