The Socio Economic Duty

Closes 12 Sep 2017

Consultation Contents

About the Socio-Economic Duty

The socio-economic duty asks particular public authorities to do more to tackle the inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage. In particular, the duty aims to make sure that strategic decisions about the most important issues are carefully thought through so that they are as effective as they can be in tackling socio-economic disadvantage and reducing inequalities of outcome. These strategic decisions would include, for example, an economic development strategy; or an annual budget setting out key investment choices.

These key terms (in bold above) are defined in more detail in Section 1 of this paper.

Strategic public authorities – those that tend to be the most influential - will be covered by the duty. They will have the opportunity to show that they both understand the key socio-economic inequality gaps and have taken account of them in the decisions they make. The strategic bodies covered by the duty are set out in Section 2 of this paper.

The main outcome that the Scottish Government is looking for from the introduction of the duty is improved decision-making that genuinely leads to better outcomes for those experiencing disadvantage. We will know if inequalities are reducing from the range of statistics we publish on a regular basis, including indicators on poverty, education, crime, health and income in the National Performance Framework and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. However, we recognise that some public authorities will need help and advice, so questions on how public authorities can fulfil their responsibilities under the duty, to inform the production of guidance, are set out in Section 3.    

To show how the duty might work in practice, three case studies are set out in an Annex which can be found here . These may help you answer some of the broader questions in the consultation document.

The case for introducing the socio-economic duty is compelling. The public sector already does a lot of important work on poverty and inequality. But the scale of the challenge we face as a country is huge. Over a million people are living in poverty in Scotland, including one in four children; and, as shown below, inequalities of income and wealth are persistent, with knock-on impacts on a wider range of outcomes.

Page Response
Section 1 - Defining the Key Terms of the Duty
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Section 2 – The Public Authorities covered by the Duty
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Section 3 - Meeting the Requirements of the Duty
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Section 4 - Links between this and other Duties
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About You (Required)
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Evaluation
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