On 9 February 2021, the Welsh Government laid the Equality Act (Authorities subject to a duty regarding Socio-economic Inequalities) (Wales) Regulations 2021 (Regulations) before Senedd Cymru, together with an explanatory memorandum and statutory guidance.
By amending section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, the Regulations purport to make specific Welsh public bodies subject to the public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities (referred to as the Socio-economic Inequality Duty) when the duty is brought into force in Wales. The duty requires prescribed authorities, when “making decisions of a strategic nature” about how to exercise their functions, to have regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome resulting from socio-economic disadvantage .
The Welsh public bodies that will be subject to the Socio-economic Inequality Duty are specified in regulation 2 and include, among others:
- The Welsh Ministers.
- County councils and county borough councils in Wales.
- Specific NHS Trusts, Local Health Boards and Special Health Authorities.
The Regulations came into force on 30 March 2021. The Welsh Government indicates that it is aiming to prepare affected public bodies for commencement of the duty.