Socio-economic duty: consultation

We are seeking your views on how public bodies are working to tackle poverty and inequality.

Section 2: The Public Authorities Covered By The Duty

The wording of the Equality Act 2010, as amended by the Scotland Act 2016, enables Scottish Ministers to specify by regulations the public authorities to be covered by the socio-economic duty, as set out in section 2(4) below .

2. Power to amend section 1

(4) The Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers may by regulations amend section 1 so as to-

(a) add a relevant authority to the authorities that are subject to the duty under subsection (1) of that section;

(b) remove a relevant authority from those that are subject to the duty;

(c) make the duty apply, in the case of a particular relevant authority, only in relation to certain functions that it has;

(d) in the case of a relevant authority to which the application of the duty is already restricted to certain functions, remove or alter the restriction.

However, as section 2(5)(c) makes clear, only an authority that is similar to those listed for England in the 2010 Act can be specified .

(5) For the purposes of the power conferred by subsection (4) on the Scottish Ministers, "relevant authority" means an authority whose functions-

(a) are exercisable only in or as regards Scotland,

(b) are wholly or mainly devolved Scottish functions, and

(c) correspond or are similar to those of an authority for the time being specified in section 1(3).

The list of public authorities in the Act, covering England, originally specified the following:

  • a Minister of the Crown;
  • a government department other than the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service or the Government Communications Head-quarters;
  • a county council or district council in England;
  • the Greater London Authority;
  • a London borough council;
  • the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a local authority;
  • the Council of the Isles of Scilly;
  • a Strategic Health Authority established under section 13 of the National Health Service Act 2006, or continued in existence by virtue of that section;
  • a Primary Care Trust established under section 18 of that Act, or continued in existence by virtue of that section;
  • a regional development agency established by the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998
  • A police authority established for an area in England.

Scottish Ministers therefore propose that the following Scottish public authorities be bound by the duty:

  • Scottish Ministers [see below]
  • Local Authorities
  • NHS Health Scotland
  • Integration Joint Boards
  • Regional Health Boards
  • The Scottish Police Authority
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Scottish Enterprise

"Scottish Ministers" covers the following: The Scottish Government, Accountant in Bankruptcy; Disclosure Scotland; Education Scotland; Scottish Prison Service; Scottish Public Pensions Agency; Student Awards Agency for Scotland; Transport Scotland. The new Scottish Social Security Agency, once established, will also be subject to the duty.

QUESTION 2A - Do you agree that the socio-economic duty should apply to the Scottish public authorities named here? If not, please specify which authority you do not think it should apply to and why?

QUESTION 2B - Do you think the duty should apply to any other public authorities, similar to those listed in the Equality Act 2010 ? If so, please name them and explain why you think the duty should apply.


Email: Karen Armstrong,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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