The Disability Rights Commission has launched a scathing attack on government proposals to tackle discrimination and inequality published yesterday.
The DRC said proposals in the green paper would “dilute” duties on public bodies to promote equality for disabled people, women and people from black and minority ethnic communities, and do nothing to tackle “serial non-compliance by many businesses and employers” with existing anti-discrimination laws.
The green paper proposes rolling the existing duties on public bodies to promote disability, gender and race equality into a single equality duty and give authorities greater flexibility on how they fulfil it. This would include removing existing requirements to publish equality schemes for each duty, and enabling bodies to set their own objectives.
The approach mirrors the creation of a Commission for Equality and Human Rights which will take over the functions of the DRC, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission in October, including the enforcement of equality duties.
The government says a single duty will yield efficiency gains, help tackle multiple discrimination and enable public bodies to respond to their local circumstances. The green paper also suggests extending the duty to age, sexual orientation and belief in the future.
However, DRC chief executive Bob Niven said the proposals amounted to “watering down” the existing duties, while removing the requirement to produce equality schemes would weaken enforcement.
The DRC has threatened nine public bodies with court action over their apparent failure to produce equality schemes.
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