Summary of Equality for All
Equality for All is the County Council's Equality Strategy for 2012-16. The strategy sets out how the Council plans to meet its duties under the Equality Act (2010).
The Equality Act (2010) replaces all previous anti-discrimination law and recognises nine protected characteristics, that are to ensure that everyone is covered by the legislation:
• Gender reassignment
• Marriage and civil partnership
• Pregnancy and maternity
• Religion and belief
• Sexual orientation
This applies to all goods, services and employment, regardless of whether they are provided through the public, private or third sector. In addition to this, Section 149 of the Equality Act places a set of requirements upon public bodies, known as the Public Sector Equality Duty. This is made up of a general equality duty which is supported by specific duties.
The general equality duty requires public authorities, to have due regard to the need to:
• Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Act.
• Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
• Foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not share it.
The Public Sector Equality Duty sets out a clear mandate for the role that leaders and decision makers have in addressing Equality. The scope of the Public Sector Equality Duty applies to all of the County Council's activities and has to inform all decisions that the Council makes.
Council needs to collect information on the profile of people who use services and work for the Council, and then use that information when making decisions
Recent caselaw has shown that lack of due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty is costly, damaging to the organisation's reputation and affects the lives of people whose well-being is vital to public services.
Key lessons from the caselaw shows that the Council needs to:
• Ensure that Equality is considered prior to a decision being made - and for Equality implications to be clearly referenced in any advice given to Councillors.
• Be specific about actual impacts of proposals on people who share a protected characteristic.
• Challenge the basis of a decision if it is clear that the Equality implications cannot be addressed.
• Develop clear plans to offset any Equality implications.
• Complete an Equality assessment of proposals regardless of whether the service is statutory - the Equality Act applies to all goods, services and employment.
• Ensure that suppliers and contracted third parties understand the Equality implications and address them.
Equality will be critical in ensuring that changes to the way that Council provides services, manages its assets and devolves responsibilities to the six localities of Cumbria are done in a fair and equitable manner.
Based on the findings from the Equality Needs Analysis the Council has set a number of Equality Objectives. This is in line with the Public Sector Equality Duty that requires the Council to publish one or more Equality objective for 2012-16. In developing objectives the Council has considered the following:
• Whether there is a measurable Equality gap that needs to be addressed.
• Whether the measures are within the Council's control
• Whether the objective is based on improvements to the Council's processes.
A review of existing County Council Strategies has highlighted the following strategies as having particular importance for ensuring that Equality is being embedded across the authority:
• Council Plan and Anti Poverty Strategy;
• Area Plans;
• Council's Procurement Policy;
• Workforce Plan;
• Customer Services Strategy;
• Asset Management Plan;
• Consultation/Community Engagement Plan;
• Information Strategy.
Equality Impact Assessments are a tool to check whether the Council is meeting the Public Sector Equality Duty. The best way to think about them is to treat them as a risk assessment.
There are three triggers for carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment:
• Service Planning or reviews of existing services.
• Decisions for Cabinet or Local Committee that may reduce staffing or services to the public.
• Organisational restructures.
When a Cabinet report is written the author needs to advise Cabinet on whether an Equality Impact Assessment is relevant and if so, to detail the findings of the EIA in relation to any options being presented. This means that Cabinet is in a position to take full account of the Equality implications prior to making a decision
Each Directorate is required to ensure that there is an Equality Impact Assessment for their main services and that this is refreshed annually.
All Equality Impact Assessments completed since the Equality Act was passed in 2010 can be found on:
Information and intelligence
In assessing the Equality implications of decisions it is important that consideration is paid to the impact of decisions on the local population. For example decisions to locate a service or decommission a service will need to be able to demonstrate whether they have an undue impact on the local population including analysis by age, gender and disability as a minimum requirement.
Where possible the Council should seek data on ethnicity, sexual orientation, maternity, marital status, carers, transgender and religion/belief. This should be dependent upon the nature of the decision and the availability of the data.
The following services have been identified as being relevant to the Equality Duty in terms of information on people who share a protected characteristic:
• Adult Social Care
• Registration Service
• Cumbria Multi-Cultural Service
• Children's Services
• Passenger Transport
• Fire and Rescue Service
• Trading Standards