Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Equality Act (Specific Duties) Regulations

An important legal development took place earlier this month, and I've not had chance to mention it before now (and you may well not have even realised it had happened).  The Equality Act (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on 10 September, requiring public bodies to publish data as to how they are meeting the 'equality duty' (in force under s149 of the Equality Act 2010 since 5 April 2011).  The government stated that:

'The Government believes that public bodies should be accountable to their service users. Publishing information about decision-making and the equality data which underpins those decisions will open public bodies up to informed public scrutiny. It will give the public the information they need to challenge public bodies and hold them to account for their performance on equality. Moreover, knowing that such information will be published will help to focus the minds of decision-makers on giving proper consideration to equality issues.'

As such, the regulations are a quiet but important step in transforming the relationship between minorities and public bodies.  The 'equality duty' is itself significant, requiring public bodies in the words of Government,  'to consider all individuals when carrying out their day to day work – in shaping policy, in delivering services and in relation to their own employees. It requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities.'

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