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Inequality

Volume 590: debated on Thursday 15 January 2015

7. What steps her Department is taking to reduce inequality arising from socio-economic background. (907020)

The Government are committed to improving social mobility. That is why we have extended free early education to disadvantaged two-year-olds, introduced a £2.5 billion a year investment in the pupil premium, delivered 2 million apprenticeship starts within this Parliament and have more than 180 major employers signed up to the social mobility business compact to inspire young people and improve access to employment opportunities.

Bristol’s fairness commission reported last year and described Bristol as a “tale of two cities,” with some areas facing “persistent deprivation.” When the Government entered power, they refused to implement clause 1 of the Equality Act 2010, the socio-economic duty, which would have placed a duty on all public bodies to have awareness of the effect of economic inequality on their policies. Will the Government reconsider that, because it is an issue that they have completely overlooked?

It is not the Government’s intention to do so at the moment, but of course local authorities have plenty of discretion, powers and tools to tackle these issues. The hon. Lady rightly highlights that there are important issues of deprivation within local authorities and it is vital that they are tackled.