As government ministers criticise the focus gender, race, and disability in decision-making, activist groups in the UK have called on Westminster to live up to its claims and enforce the socio-economic duties in the Equality Act.
Activist groups are demanding the British government demonstrate its commitment to improving social relations by extending the Equality Act to cover economic inequality.
She accused the government of being “out of step with the public” and cited communities across the UK coming together “to support one another, witnessed the selflessness of key workers, [while being] inspired by the campaigning efforts of Marcus Rashford [Manchester United footballer who helped convince the government to continue giving vulnerable children free meals].”
Nadel added that the government should immediately enact the “socio-economic duty” included in the Equality Act, which came into law more than a decade ago, as well as establishing benefits and minimum wage rates “at a level that is high enough to meet the cost of living.”
This follows a survey seen by The Independent commissioned by Compassion in Politics and carried out by Opinium – it revealed that 57 percent of voters agree that the socio-economic clause should be activated, with only 6 percent opposing.
Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director of The Equality Trust, also claimed that if the clause had been in place by the time the coalition government took power 2010, “then we might not have seen the drastic cuts made by public bodies over the past decade.”
The demands come as ministers say there has been an overemphasis on race and gender at the expense of “socio-economic status” and class position.
In a speech in December, equality minister Liz Truss, said: “the focus on protected characteristics has led to a narrowing of the equality debate that overlooks socio-economic status and geographic inequality.”
The Equality Act was enacted in the final months of the last Labour government and requires state policy to take into account protected characteristics like race, sex, and disability.
The act’s “socio-economic duty” would also bind lawmakers and public bodies to consider “due regard” for economic inequality in all decisions made.
Official data from the Office of National Statistics last year revealed that people living in poverty are more vulnerable to the coronavirus compared to those in higher income brackets.
The mortality rates in the poorest parts of England and Wales are double compared to the wealthiest demographic in the UK. Ethnic minorities were also been found to make up one-third of virus patients admitted to critical care units, despite being just making up 13 percent of the population.