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Make Equality Real campaign launches call for the inclusion of socio-economic duty into the Equality Act 2010 and the end of austerity

A coalition of nine national trade unions and campaign groups has today launched the Make Equality Real campaign. This campaign is directly calling on all political parties to make a clear commitment in their election manifestos to make Section 1 of the Equality Act law – the socio-economic duty, reducing poverty, and helping to make austerity unlawful. 

The campaign’s petition to Westminster party leaders states that “the socio-economic duty should be written into the Equality Act 2010 as part of a campaign to end austerity and make equality real. This will ensure that everyone in Britain can live secure and fulfilling lives.” 

Alongside a petition, the campaign has outlined a pledge for all candidates standing in the general election, and has produced materials and social media graphics to promote the campaign in workplaces.  

Dr. Cath Lowther, general secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) said, “Our members have seen first-hand the damaging impact that 14 years of austerity have done to our vital public and community services. This campaign is about ensuring this cannot happen again in future.” 

Austerity is a set of government policies that reduces public spending alongside increasing taxation, primarily on low to middle income earners, with a supposed aim of reducing a high deficit (i.e. the difference between government spending and income). This has been a mainstream economic opinion since the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government of 2010, which delivered £40 billion of cuts in its first budget in June 2010.  

John McGowan, general secretary of the Social Workers Union (SWU) commented on the need for the campaign, “In a recent survey of our members 61% of them witnessed young people living in conditions with excessive levels of mould. Whether it be the increase of those living in poor conditions of housing or a rise in fuel poverty and child poverty, austerity has been a hugely damaging political choice of successive Governments.” 

The Equality Trust, a key part of this campaign coalition, has for a long time campaigned for the introduction of the socio-economic duty. Priya Sahani-Nicholas, the Equality Trust Co-Executive Director, describes the impact tha a socio economic duty can have in improving equality. “As the result of actions taken, Scotland has the lowest levels of child poverty it has seen in 30 years, with 60,000 fewer children living in poverty in 2023 compared with 2017. Reducing inequality and reducing the impacts of inequality should be a dedicated and primary focus of all governments. The UK is the 5th richest country in the world - so we know money is available. We are calling on our elected representatives to prioritise greater equality”. 

The campaign is coordinated by the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) and aims to unite both the trade union movement and wider campaigners together to improve equality and end austerity once and for all. Gawain Little, GFTU general secretary commented, “Many of our affiliates have campaigned for years to see an end to austerity. This campaign unites our unions with other campaigners to provide a framework for making equality real and helping to make austerity unlawful.” 

This campaign is supported by: Artists' Union England (AUE), Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP), Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) Community, General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), Social Workers Union (SWU), The Equality Trust. 

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