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What Price Equality?. The impact of the proposed cuts and members’ vision for the future of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Equality and Human Rights Commission: Impact of the proposed cuts.

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what price equality
What Price Equality?

The impact of the proposed cuts and members’ vision for

the future of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

the equality and human rights commission impact of the proposed cuts

The Equality and Human Rights Commission:Impact of the proposed cuts

PCS & Unite have over 360 members at the Commission. Our members are experts in their field, committed and deeply concerned about the attack on equalities represented by the planned cuts. This is their vision.

members vision for the commission
Members’ vision for the Commission
  • Underpinned by the principle of providing good value for the tax payer.
  • A Commission that fulfils its core functions in a cost-efficient, visible manner.
  • Providing an integrated, accessible service using the skills and expertise of its highly regarded staff.
the commission s statutory duties and responsibilities
The Commission’s statutory duties and responsibilities
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body established by Parliament under the Equality Act 2006.
  • As a regulator, the Commission is responsible for enforcing equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encouraging compliance with the Human Rights Act.
equality act 2006 key powers and functions bestowed to the commission by parliament
Equality Act 2006: Key powers and functions bestowed to the Commission by Parliament
  • Promote understanding and encourage good practice in relation to human rights, encourage public authorities to comply with Section 6 of the Human Rights Act – Section 9.
  • Monitoring the law: keeping equality and human rights enactments under review – Section 11.
  • Providing information and advice – Section 13.
  • Producing Codes of Practice – Section 14.
  • Conducting Inquiries – Section 16.
  • Grant making powers – Section 17.
  • Investigations/Conciliations – Sections 20 and 27.
  • Provision of legal assistance – Section 28.
  • Judicial reviews – Section 30.
fulfilling eu directive requirements
Fulfilling EU Directive Requirements
  • In addition European Directives contain requirements for an equality body within member states.
  • These provisions require enforcement of Directive rights to be readily available to individuals and that bodies with a legitimate interest may engage in any judicial and/or administrative procedures on behalf of complainants.
these powers and functions are now under threat
These Powers and Functions are Now Under Threat
  • The work of the Commission is now under threat. The Government plans to slash its budget by over 60%.
  • It is likely to lose more than half its workforce, reduce its legal enforcement capabilities, close its helpline, lose its regional presence and end its provision of grants to charities or projects such as law centres, disability groups and community organisations that promote racial harmony.
  • Such cuts will affect all workers and communities, in particular disadvantaged communities at a time that cuts are hitting them hardest.
  • The Commission would also lose its vital link to the public and access to crucial evidence of emerging issues.
powers and functions under threat
Powers and functions under threat
  • There are also plans to reduce some of the Commission’s key powers and functions through the Public Bodies Bill.
  • A public consultation is also planned by government on “reforming” the Commission, which may include removing or outsourcing our helpline advice service and the provision of grants.
  • We believe the logical alternative is a structure which integrates the advice service and grants with legal, regions, communications and policy, both for cost-saving and intelligence gathering purposes.
the commission background and achievements
The Commission: background and achievements

The Commission acts as a single source of information to individuals, public authorities and businesses on people’s rights and responsibilities under equality legislation and tackles discrimination. It provides an essential two-pronged approach of preventative and enforcement capabilities at a time when Britain faces many challenges.

achievements
Achievements

In its first two years the Commission has:

  • ensuredprotection for 6 million carers against discrimination in employment
  • taken over 60, 000 calls each year through the Helpline
  • 80% of enforcement cases are resolvedwithout the need to go to court.
  • exposedexploitation of migrant workers in the meat processing sector
  • advised 136,000 businesses about avoiding discrimination during the downturn
  • distributed£10 million in grants to 285 different voluntary groups delivering frontline services across the country
  • revealedthrough a formal Inquiry into the finance sector that women working full time earned up to 55% less annual average gross salary than their male colleagues. The economy-wide gender pay gap is 28%

…to name but a few achievements, all this at a cost of around just £1 a year per person living in Britain.

equality challenges
Equality challenges
  • The persistence of inequalities as recorded in the Commission’s Triennial Report.
  • £350 million planned cuts to Legal Aid.
  • £1.166 billion cuts to Local Government Funding.
  • Confidence in the Voluntary Sector is at an all time low; 52% of charity leaders expect to decrease expenditure over the next 12 months.
a future proofed commission
A future-proofed Commission
  • The Commission should be able to fulfil its statutory duties as directed by equality and human rights legislation and the EU Directives:
    • providing advice, assistance and representation to the victims of discrimination, directly and indirectly through its funded partners
    • conducting Judicial Reviews, Inquiries and Investigations and taking test cases, thereby keeping equality and human rights enactments under review.
connecting with the grassroots
Connecting with the grassroots

At a time of such cuts its vital we maintain our legal enforcement

powers, our advisory role and our connection with the grassroots

however, the proposed cuts would mean:

Drastic cuts to the Commission’s legal work:

  • One example of which was the support it gave to a case taken by Sharon Coleman, which ended in victory at the European Court of Justice and ensured 6 million carers in Britain are protected against discrimination in employment.
  • Employers and public authorities will no longer be held to account if they carry out discriminatory policies
connecting with the grassroots1
Connecting with the grassroots

Loss of the Helpline:

  • Commission staff answer more than 60,000 helpline calls every year
  • Loss of an integrated public advice and intelligence service.
  • Outsourcing would be a false economy - leading to wasteful duplication and the loss of an integrated function.

Loss of Grants function:

  • This year, the Commission is distributing £7.5 million to 133 voluntary groups to help with advice and legal casework.
  • Last year it helped 135 organisations with £4.1 million and in 2008/09, it supported 285 groups with £11 million.
  • Voluntary organisations and community groups are already losing funding.
connecting with the grassroots2
Connecting with the grassroots

Loss of the Regional teams:

  • Small experienced teams already in place should be fully integrated with the centre – they are an essential information channel working with local communities to ensure community cohesion, including where there are known tensions.
  • The North Wales office is necessary to recognise the marked regional differences in issues affecting North Wales.
  • Loss of the regional teams will drastically affect our work on transfer of expertise, evidence gathering, monitoring roll out of the Public Sector Duties, and building local partnerships to hold local bodies to account.
slide17

‘There is no question in my mind that there will be a Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) presence throughout the country. We will also begin a consultation... about grant-giving, which is particularly directed at ensuring that the Race Equality Council network, which the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) currently has, continues but that we develop parallel structures with the voluntary sector to make sure that we have local presence and local partners.

Our job is not just sitting in a bunker in London or Manchester but a substantial proportion of our resource is finding its way out to local schemes, local projects, that advance the interests of equality and human rights.’

Trevor Phillips, Communities and Local Government Select Committee - Sixth Report, 16 July 2007

key messages
Key messages
  • The Commission will be left so stripped down that it will effectively be closed.
  • It will lose its connection to what is happening at the grassroots becoming a remote think tank.
  • Given the severity of these cuts, we can only conclude that the Government is effectively seeking to close the body entrusted by Parliament to protect and promote equality and human rights in Britain.
a future proofed commission our vision
A future-proofed Commission:Our vision

We see a future in which an outward looking well-resourced Commission, in touch with the grassroots concerns and needs of ordinary people, provides much needed advice, assistance and support to the people of Britain as we negotiate these difficult economic times.

what you can do
What you can do
  • Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 923 to safeguard the remit, funding and staffing of the EHRC.
  • Write to Theresa May MP, Minister for Women and Equality, asking her to maintain the EHRC.
  • Sign the petition http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/campaigns/email-your-mp/ (Save the Equality and Human Rights Commission)
  • Check the PCS website for details of the response to the government consultation. (to be announced)
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