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Consultation on Reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission - closes 15th June 2011

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John
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Reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

22nd  March 2011

Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone today announced the launch of the consultation on our plans to reform the Equality and Human Rights Commission.    

The consultation document below sets out our plans to reform the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure the EHRC focuses on its core regulatory activities. The consultation runs to 15 June 2011 and we would welcome your views on our proposals.

We are currently finalising an ‘Easy read’ version of the consultation document which will be avaliable shortly. We would be grateful if you could send your response to the consultation using the electronic form below.

We have also completed an Equality Impact Assessment and a Regulatory Impact Assessment which can be found below.

If you would like to contact Government Equalities Office, or would like to request alterative formats of documents, or send your response please email:  ehrc.reform@geo.gsi.gov.uk.

Because of concerns about the reach, effectiveness and value for money of the Commission’s provision of equality information, advice and support, which are delivered through a helpline for individuals and strategic and legal grants programmes, a separate review of these activities was carried out by GEO to inform the Spending Review.  In light of that review, the Government has decided to stop funding the Commission’s provision of its helpline and grants programmes from 31 March 2012 – when the Commission’s existing grants programmes are due to come to a natural end.  Today, we have also published our report into the provision of advice, support and information, which sets out the evidence that helped inform those decisions.

We carried out Equality Impact Assessments for the two aspects that our review focused on: 

If you would like to contact Government Equalities Office regarding our report into the provision of advice, support and information, you can email us at: infoAdviceSupport@geo.gsi.gov.uk

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kevin
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Radical reforms to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will make it a stronger, more focussed and more efficient organisation, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May said today.

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The Government Equalities Office has published detailed plans for major changes to the way the EHRC operates. The reforms will correct mistakes of the past and increase transparency, accountability and value for money.

The proposals are contained in a consultation that will run for three months from today. Ministers plan to make changes in three key areas:

1) Clarifying the EHRC's remit. The government will amend the legislation that established the EHRC, the Equality Act 2006, to clarify the Commission's core functions. This will allow the EHRC to focus on the work that really matters, where it alone can add value. At present, vagueness in the Equality Act, for example, the duty to "promote understanding of the importance of equality and diversity" has led to the EHRC undertaking a wide range of activities that are not regulatory in nature, including running summer camps for young people.

2) Stopping non-core activities. One of the causes of the Commission's difficulties was the breadth of its remit - extending beyond its core role to, for example, operating a helpline and grants programme. The Commission has struggled to do these things well in the past, so we have decided that we should not fund it to do them in the future. The evidence suggests that this work could be done better or more cost-effectively by others.

3) Improving transparency and value for money. Problems with financial controls mean that each set of the EHRC's accounts have been qualified since its creation, and it has struggled to deliver value for money. Today's proposals include a legal requirement for the EHRC to publish an annual business plan in Parliament, and comply with the same rules as all other public bodies when spending money. Where the Commission fails to show that it has spent taxpayers' money wisely, financial penalties will apply.

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May said:

"It's vital that we have a strong, effective and independent equalities and human rights body, but since its creation the EHRC has struggled to deliver across its remit and demonstrate that it is delivering value for taxpayers' money.

"We want the EHRC to become a valued and respected national institution, championing effective implementation of equality and human rights laws and holding government and others to account for their performance, while delivering maximum value for money for taxpayers. The proposals being published today are intended to make that happen."

GEO06/2011

Notes to editors

1. The full proposals and consultation document can be downloaded from the Government Equalities Office website at http://www.equalities.gov.uk

2. The consultation opens today and closes on 15 June 2011.

3. The EHRC covers England, Scotland and Wales. It was set up in 2007 and took on the responsibilities of the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

4. The EHRC is chaired by Trevor Phillips, who was reappointed in 2009 for a second three year term. The body's interim Chief Executive is Helen Hughes.

http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=418746&...

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kevin
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Plans set out today to curb the powers of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission< have raised concerns at the fairness watchdog.

Though current inquiries into tackling disability-related harassment< and the home care sector< will be unaffected, as will future similar investigations, the government has proposed to remove its duty to promote good relations in society.

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This is the legal basis for the inquiry into disability-related harassment, a grants programme for voluntary and community groups and work to build a "map of gaps" analysing local authority domestic violence services.

The government said "valuable" work, such as the disability harassment inquiry, could be conducted under other legal powers. It questioned the commission's value for money, claiming some of its work duplicated that carried out by local authorities and other bodies.

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"While it is too soon to comment on the government's proposals in detail, we are concerned that the removal of our good relations mandate may prevent us from being able to do many practical things at a time when community relations are under particular strain," said commission chair Trevor Phillips.

The ECHR survived the government's "bonfire of quangos" last October, but plans to curb its powers started to emerge.<

The government wants to narrow the commission's legal remit to core functions, such as monitoring compliance with equality legislation and intervening to address non-compliance.

This would involve repealing a general duty on the ECHR to support the development of a increasingly equal society with more respect for human rights. The government believes this premise to be too vague and creates "unrealistic expectations".

Proposals to improve the value for money and financial transparency of the organisation have also been put forward, after the National Audit Office found fault with its first two sets of accounts.

"Since its creation, the EHRC has struggled to deliver across its remit and demonstrate that it is delivering value for taxpayers' money," said home secretary and minister for equality Theresa May.

"We want the EHRC to become a valued and respected national institution, championing effective implementation of equality and human rights laws and holding government and others to account for their performance, while delivering maximum value for money for taxpayers. The proposals published today are intended to make that happen."

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2011/03/22/116518/Equality-watch...<

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kevin
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Theresa May< (Home Secretary; Maidenhead, Conservative)

I am today launching a public consultation on the Government's plans to reform the Equality and Human Rights Commission<.

The coalition programme for government commits to "reduce the number and cost of quangos". In order to deliver this, the Government carried out a major review of public bodies last year. Following that review, the decision was taken to retain the commission but substantially reform it to focus it on the areas where it alone can add value, and to increase its accountability to Government, Parliament and the public.

We want the Equality and Human Rights Commission to become a valued and respected national institution. To achieve this aim, we have today set out our proposals for legislative and non-legislative reform in three key areas:

Clarifying the EHRC<'s remit-the Government will amend the legislation that established the EHRC, the Equality Act 2006, to clarify the commission's core functions. This will allow the EHRC to focus on the work that really matters, where it alone can add value. At present, vagueness in the Equality Act, for example, the duty to "promote understanding of the importance of equality and diversity", has led to the EHRC undertaking a wide range of activities that are not regulatory in nature, including running summer camps for young people.

Stopping non-core activities-one of the causes of the commission's difficulties was the breadth of its remit, extending beyond its core role to, for example, operating a helpline and grants programme. The commission has struggled to do these things well in the past, so we have decided that we should not fund it to do them in the future. The evidence suggests that this work could be done better or more cost-effectively by others.

Improving transparency and value for money-problems with financial controls mean that each set of the EHRC's accounts have been qualified since its creation, and it has struggled to deliver value for money. Today's proposals include a legal requirement for the EHRC to publish an annual business plan in Parliament, and comply with the same rules as all other public bodies when spending money. Where the commission fails to show that it has spent taxpayers' money wisely, financial penalties will apply.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the House Library and can also be found on the Government Equalities' Office website at the following link www.equalities.gov.uk<.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wms/?id=2011-03-22a.52WS.3<

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kevin
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EHRC first response to consultation on its powers and duties

On 20 May 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published its first response to the Government’s consultation on the Commission’s powers and duties.

Click here< for press release

Click here< for response

http://www.edf.org.uk/blog/?p=11540<

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anonymous (not verified)
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The Government consultation on reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission closed on 15 June 2011. The Equality and Diversity Forum and other organisations submitted responses.

Click here< for details of consultation

Click here< for Equality and Diversity Forum response

Click here< for Equality and Human Rights Commission interim response

Click here< for response by the Home Affairs Select Committee

Click here< for ‘A Briefing on Building a fairer Britain: Reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission: What does it mean for human rights?’ by the British Institute of Human Rights

http://www.edf.org.uk/blog/?p=10504<

anonymous (not verified)
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Commission issues response to government consultation on its powers and duties

The Equality and Human Rights Commission today issues its full response to the government’s consultation on the Commission's powers and duties.

The Commission's response can be viewed here<.

Ends

Notes to editors

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2011/june/commission-issues-resp...<

John
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Introduction

The Commission has launched the first of three phases of consultation to develop our next strategic plan.

The plan will cover our plans and priorities from April 2012 to March 2015 and is due to be laid before Parliament in April 2012.

We have designed a strategic planning process at the heart of which is consulting and involving all those interested in our work from start to finish.

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