Government sparks anger after weakening Equality Act duties

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Government sparks anger after weakening Equality Act duties

Proposed changes would make it harder for disabled people to challenge policies and decisions.

28/03/2011

New government proposals would weaken the law on how public bodies must implement the equality duty. The changes would make it harder for disabled people to challenge policies and decisions.

In a new ‘policy review paper’, the government says it wants to lighten what it claims is the bureaucratic ‘burden’ on public bodies by removing some of the ‘specific duties’ they have to meet to comply with the Equality Act’s equality duty.

The equality duty says public bodies must have ‘due regard’ to eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity, and promoting good relations when making decisions.

However, the changes the government is proposing could mean that councils, health trusts and government departments would no longer have to publish important information. This could include the details of how they consulted disabled people and other groups in drawing up their policies and equality objectives. The changes could weaken the impact of the equality duties in the public sector.

The government has also announced that it will not implement the parts of the Equality Act that would have tackled dual discrimination. In his Budget speech, George Osborne criticised the proposal as costly for business.