The government has scrapped the socio-economic duty, created as part of the Equality Act, requiring local authorities to consider inequalities of outcome when making strategic policy decisions. 

Home Secretary Theresa May, who is also Minister for Women and Equality, dismissed the duty as “just another bureaucratic box to be ticked”. The law allowing for its creation will now be repealed. 

Introduced by the previous Labour government, clause one of the 2010 Equality Act required public authorities “when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise its functions, [to] have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.”

She confirmed that the government will extend the right to request flexible working from parents and carers to all employees, but failed to make clear whether the government will still require employers with more than 150 employees to measure and publish information on their gender pay gaps. 

She said she wanted the private and voluntary sectors to follow the government’s lead in publishing details of salaries, contracts awarded and organisational structures. 

But the recently closed consultation on the public sector equality duty regulations revealed the government has already removed obligations on employers to publish specific data and that there are no sanctions for those who do not.

Responding to the consultation, Thompsons said: “There is little point in telling public bodies that they should be open about the information on which they base their decisions, what they are seeking to achieve and about their results, if there is no guidance on what the data should include and how it should be compiled and if there is no effective enforcement strategy.”

To read Thompsons’ response to the public sector equality duty consultation, visit Equality Act 2010: the public sector equality duty consultation.