How will the election impact ED&I? – 4 key takeaways from our webinar.

    Last week, Housing Diversity Network held a webinar in which we theorised what we might expect as a sector post-general election- particularly in terms of what impact a potential change in government may have upon housing policy, inequality, and the drive for inclusivity (and what these changes might mean for our communities).

    Chaired by former HDN Board member Alison Inman– current Chair of TPAS and Board member at Saffron Housing Trust and Procurement for Housing, we were joined for the event by Lynne Nicholls– Director of Leonis Solutions, Chair of First Brick Housing, and co-founder of HouseProud, Jeremy Crook– Chief Executive Officer at Action for Racial Equality (ARE), and Hugh Goulbourne– lawyer, Labour party member, and founding Chair of Kirklees Diversity Equality and Innovation Network.

    Here are a few key takeaways from their discussion:

    – Socio-Economic Background as a Protected Characteristic

    The potential inclusion of socio-economic status as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act has been discussed many times before. Introducing it to the list of protective characteristics could lead to transformative changes in the operations of public bodies across the UK, whereby more targeted support is directed at disadvantaged communities- facilitating fairer access to housing, healthcare, and education. Public bodies would need to develop new strategies to address these socio-economic disparities, promoting greater social mobility, and reducing inequality.

    – Strengthening the Equality Act

    There was a clear call from the panel to enhance the Equality Act, rather than diminish it, as certain (fringe and mainstream) political groups ostensibly to wish to do. Strengthening this legislation could involve introducing more robust protections against discrimination and extending its scope to address emerging issues in the current UK context. Enhancements could include tougher penalties for non-compliance and better enforcement mechanisms to ensure all individuals, regardless of race, gender, disability, or other protected characteristics, receive equal treatment.

    – Focus on Outcomes, with Adequate Funding

    The new government should support the delivery of tangible outcomes from EDI initiatives, in the housing sector and further afield. It’s not enough for an organisation to simply publish their gender or ethnicity pay gap for example; a robust plan of action needs to be put in place to address the issues. Focus also needs to be backed by sufficient funding to ensure that policies and programs are effective, as without proper funding well-intentioned initiatives will inevitably fail to achieve their goals. Not only does this leave potentially vulnerable populations without the necessary support, such failures could also play into the unhelpful myth that EDI initiatives have no value when it comes to making a positive impact, undermining efforts at progress.

    – Impact of Populism and Far-Right Ideologies

    The rise of populism and the far-right in the UK (as well as more widely in Europe and the USA) has a danger of reshaping public perceptions of the equalities agenda for the worse. These movements foster divisive rhetoric and policies that undermine efforts to promote inclusivity and equality; addressing this issue will require a concerted effort to counter hatred and misinformation, promote positive narratives about diversity, and demonstrate the clear societal benefits of equality and inclusion. Political leaders and public bodies must stand firm against regressive ideologies and work to foster a culture of respect and understanding.

    Come what may on 4th July, to ensure no one is left behind- especially those who are vulnerable and marginalised- the importance of a committed, proactive, well-supported approach to EDI (across our sector and elsewhere) is at this point undeniable.

    We are already having conversations with boards and leadership teams about the equality implications of a new government to aid them in their thinking and preparation. If you want to take advantage of this, please get in touch with us at

    Written by Josh Neary-Pegler, HDN Research and Policy Lead

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