SEStran have today responded to the Scottish government seeking inclusion in the forthcoming Socio-economic duty.
SEStran and indeed all Regional Transport Partnerships (RTPs) think this could be a key leg of the journey to build inclusive local economies across Scotland which tackle transport inequalities specifically.
Cllr Gordon Edgar, Chair at SEStran comments:
“We have today agreed to seek inclusion in the duty. Recent reports such as the Royal Society of Arts Inclusive Growth Commission, responses to the pre-engagement survey of the National Transport Strategy Review and the Planning Review consultation, have emphasised the relationship of transport to social and economic inequalities whether in rural or urban based communities.”
“It would therefore seem reasonable for transport and connectivity to cover these areas and indeed Regional Transport Strategies are mentioned in the consultation document but SEStran as an RTP is not a public body proposed to be covered by the socio-economic duty. We hope ministers will now consider including us”.
The socio-economic duty was part of the UK government’s Equality Act 2010 but was never implemented. In 2017, Scotland will become the first part of the UK to introduce the socio-economic duty, having had the powers devolved as part of the Smith Commission process. The duty asks particular public authorities to do more to tackle the inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage.
However, it’s not the case that the Scottish Government can simply add any public-sector organisation to the list of bodies to be covered by the duty. The bodies in question must be equivalent, in some way, to the English list of authorities set out in the Equality Act 2010. So, there would need to be an argument presented that SEStran as an RTP is an equivalent regional development agency from the current list within the 2010 Act.
John Wilkes, Head of EHRC Scotland said:
“It’s really encouraging that SEStran can see the clear benefit and advantages to their work of opting into the new Socio Economic Duty and don’t see this as just another piece of burdensome regulation.
‘Like SEStran, we see a really obvious connection between strategic decisions about transport and socio economic inequality. Public transport can and does have a very important role to play in helping people to get into and sustain work.
“As regulator, we are encouraging the Scottish Government to consider ways to expand the list of bodies covered by the new Scottish Duty.”
So, whether or not the duty specifically calls for SEStran, it’s still vital that the bodies covered by the new duty focus on the role regionally that transport can play in reducing poverty and delivering positive outcomes for communities. Fairer, more equal community is what we at SEStran aspire to, delivered through the transport related work we do, it’s for us a call of duty.