The Welsh Government’s use of policy tools for mainstreaming equalities

From the onset of devolution, the Welsh Government has had a statutory duty to mainstream equality of opportunity in all of its activities. Following two decades of variation in prominence on the Governmental agenda, the mainstreaming of equality within the Welsh Government has experienced a renewed interest in recent years. In 2018, then First Minister Carwyn Jones committed to making the Welsh Government a feminist government, which served as the catalyst for the Gender Equality Review, and led to a flurry of work around embedding gender equality within Welsh Government decision making. In 2019, the Welsh Government announced that it would be enacting Sections 1 and 3 of the Equality Act 2010, known as the ‘socio-economic duty’. This places a statutory duty on public bodies, when making strategic decisions, to have due regard to the need to reduce inequalities of outcome resulting from socio economic disadvantage.  The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain groups has further reinforced the need to embed equality within Welsh Government decision making.

In light of renewed interest, this report examines the policy tools Welsh Government has used to mainstream equality of opportunity, the effectiveness of these tools, and factors that influence their effectiveness. The definition of policy tools used was developed by Jacob et al. (2008) who distinguish between communicative, organisational, and procedural tools.

The study was conducted from January – March 2021, and combined desk-based research, drawing on Welsh Government publications, a search of online academic databases and grey literature, with primary evidence from four elite interviews conducted remotely during February 2021.