It is no secret that the public sector is having to review the way it delivers services to reduce budgets. ImpactEquality, our online equality impact assessment tool has again proved to be an invaluable resource in assessing the implications of this restructuring. Often it is the most disadvantaged who most affected so a prompt and robust assessment is required. The tool is enabling front line staff to quickly produce a first draft assessment to secure compliance and at the same time highlight any further data collection or consultation required.
“Easy to use, supports group working, good reporting and comprehensive”.
Version 2.0 of the tool, fully compliant with the Equality Act 2010, will be available shortly. www.impactequality.co.uk
The Equality Strategy released last week is to be welcomed. The real challenge is for the public sector to make it happen. By remarkable coincidence ‘Making it Happen’ is one of the core principles of the strategy.
The light touch pragmatic monitoring is especially welcome but must not be used by organisations to avoid full implementation.
Legislation cannot achieve a fairer Britain that can only be achieved by people caring.
The High Court has refused permission to the Fawcett Society to challenge the legality of the government’s emergency budget. The challenge was on the grounds of discrimination against women as they would bear the brunt of the cuts. The challenge was perhaps doomed to fail as it is not clear what the remedy would have been. Declaring the budget unlawful does not seem useful.
Interesting to note that the government did concede that it should have carried out equality impact assessments on the budget. Hopefully this important assessment process will now get more backing from the public sector in order to deliver better services for all members of society.
The recent intervention by Theresa May is interesting and not without foundation
The law requires most public bodies including central government to carry out an impact assessment to identify whether any decision might disadvantage people purely because they were from certain groups. These groups include people with disabilities, people from different ethnic backgrounds or men and women.
Where there is a negative impact the government should have due regard to the need to modify the decision. Due regard means that the government should balance the need to promote equality in proportion to its relevance.
Clearly the emergency budget decision is a major one for the activities the government funds.
Impact assessments are the process by which the government should identify and act on the need to modify decisions to have better regard to the need to promote equality. An impact assessment comprises a number of stages including the collection and analysis of relevant data, assessment of the impacts upon people from the different groups, consideration of measures which might mitigate any adverse impact, publication of the results of the impact assessment and arrangements for monitoring for future adverse impact.
The Equality Act 2010 has tried to simplify the legislation which requires public bodies to conduct equality impact assessments although it is not yet clear how this will put into practice.
In our experience the equality impact assessment process is not carried rigorously by government and a whole host of other public sector agencies. It does seem to be well policed and at times agencies appear to pay lip service to the requirements seen as a bureaucratic chore. It can be reframed in a more positive light of basic performance management. An equality impact assessment asks two important questions. Firstly, this decision, this policy this activity, how well does it meet the needs of these customer groups? Secondly, what are we going to do about it?
If as Mrs May contends the emergency budget might have a disproportionate affect upon women, ethnic minorities, disabled and older people then clearly under the law there should be an equality impact assessment and it should have been published.