United Kingdom

The UK Government committed to reducing inequalities through Sustainable Development Goal 10. Three years later things aren’t on track but is the socio-economic duty the solution we need? Koldo Casla from Just Fair explains. 

By signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, among other things, the UK Government committed to reducing inequalities.

The SDGs, with their 17 Goals and 169 Targets, set the world on a trajectory where we have eradicated poverty, reduced inequalities, halted the loss of biodiversity and combatted catastrophic climate change. Some call them an action plan for the world. But as our chapter on SDG 10 in Measuring up shows, three years later the UK’s chances of hitting the targets on reducing inequalities by 2030 are not looking too good.

Inequality in the UK is projected to rise in the coming years. A historically low unemployment rate means that more households are earning a living from the labour market. At the same time, tax changes and social security cuts introduced since 2012 have had a particularly severe effect on people on lower incomes. Black and ethnic minority households, families with at least one disabled member, and lone parents (who are overwhelmingly women) have suffered disproportionately. The UK is well known for its strong legislation on equalities. The Equality Act 2010 was a significant contribution in this regard. However, eight years since its adoption, the Act has not yet been implemented in full. Successive governments have failed to bring into effect the socio-economic duty, which requires public authorities to have due regard to the desirability of reducing material inequality.

The present and future of economic and social rights in the UK will depend considerably on the legal and policy consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

In recent years, the UK has introduced significant changes to its welfare state with the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. The reforms were justified on two grounds: deficit reduction and ending welfare dependency by facilitating access to work.

Launch of the Open Government
Partnership in New York
(Photo: Inesc)

Sources: Transparency InternationalFinancial Task ForceHumanRights.govInesc

A group of government and civil society organizations from all over the planet, among them the Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc, focal point of Social Watch in Brazil), launched this Wednesday in New York the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative that aims to promote transparency, fight corruption, strengthen accountability and empower citizens.

Author: 
Bianca Jagger
Author: 
By Sanjay Suri

LONDON, Mar 15 (IPS) - A majority of British MPs have signed up for a resolution to make poverty history -- but not voted to take action on it. Their support comes through a parliamentary resolution that does not arise from within the parliament chamber. It comes by way of signing up to what is known as an Early Day Motion (EDM). Copies of the motion are placed in the House of Commons for MPs to sign up to, in the knowledge that these are not likely to be debated within Parliament. No EDM this year has drawn as much support as EDM number 9 tabled by Labour MP Julia Drown.

One fourth of the British households are poor and the north-south divide is getting wider, claim British researchers.

Privatisation in the UK has left a troubling legacy. Multinational corporations now control many basic services, often requiring complex regulation to protect service provision. Workforces are often reduced. Many low-paid workers in privatised sectors, particularly women, earn less and have less job security. The sale of public housing has contributed to homelessness and housing difficulties for low-income and other vulnerable groups.
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