Equality Act 2010

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The new Equality Act (implemented in October 2010, with certain areas deferred to 2011) aims to streamline equality legislation by uniting the nine current pieces of legislation into one single piece which will cover all equality issues.  It also aims to expand the remit of equalities legislation, and promote action, by putting new duties for equality on public bodies, as well as extend the definition of discrimination to include ‘discrimination by association’.  This is part of a broader drive by the Government towards recognising diversity and super-diversity of the British population.

What are the implications?

  • New duties for public bodies an organisations; organisations will have to understand how and where individual and public protection lies
  • Potential ‘dumbing down’ of equality issues by uniting them in one piece of legislation
  • Better recognition for equality issues not covered by current legislation could improve support to vulnerable people
  • Potential loss of cultures of identity for equality groups
  • Potential improved inclusion as equality issues are no longer viewed as exclusive
  • Perceptions of discrimination may change
  • A potential decrease in the use of identity politics
  • Potentially weakened protection for single issues
  • Improvement in peoples’ understanding of identity as multi-faceted
  • Increased consultation between local authorities and equalities organisations
  • Increased collaborative working between different equality groups
  • Increased power and responsibilities for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in monitoring and evaluating organisations’ actions and plans regarding equality

Moving forwards

Local authorities and other public bodies will face new responsibilities and increased accountability of duties towards equalities. 

  • Do you understand how these duties will relate to your organisation?  Are there strategic changes needed in your organisation to fully comply with the Act?  Can your organisation offer a supporting role to others in understanding this?

The Act has different roles and responsibilities for organisations regarding equality issues. 

  • How can you ensure that you fully understand the act and how it relates to your organisation?  Can you support other organisations in understanding and utilising the act?

Some equality organisations may be concerned about the potential impact on their work and the people they support.

  • How can you ensure that your members needs are fully met in a single act?

Local authorities will be required to consult with different equalities groups, and to produce equalities plans annually. 

  • Do you know who and how to influence people in your local authority and other public bodies? How can you ensure that your organisation is included on consultations? 

With equalities being looked at as one whole, different groups might be required to work together in order to provide a strong voice. 

  • Is your organisation in a place to work collaboratively with other equalities strands?  How can you join up with other groups to provide a strong voice and make sure your users needs are met?

Further reading

Fairer Future: The Equality Bill and other action to make equality a reality

Published by: Government Equalities Office

Date: 2009

Format: PDF

What is it? Leaflet outlining the aims of the Equalities Act.

How useful is this?  The leaflet provides a useful introduction to the act, examining why it is needed and what it will achieve, both in general and for specific equality strands.  It outlines the new duties for public bodies, and examines the new areas which will be covered alongside the existing equality streams (breastfeeding mothers, carers, transsexuals amongst others). 

 

 

Last updated at 16:01 Wed 23/Feb/11.

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