Campaigners critical of single body plan

Plans by the government to implement European
anti-discrimination laws have met a mixed response from the the
Disability Rights Commission (DRC).

The government has begun consulting on a
European directive that will outlaw discrimination in employment on
the grounds of sexual orientation, disability, religion and belief,
and age.

To implement the directive the government
proposes establishing a single equality body. But the DRC has
raised doubts that one all-encompassing body could adequately meet
the needs of disabled people.

A spokesperson for the DRC said: “In the next
few years, once a lot of work has been done to address the issues
that disabled people face, we would advocate a single equality
commission. But we feel it would be harmful at the moment because
we have only just got a disability commission and begun to address
the discrimination that disabled people face. To merge disability
with race, and age, for example, could mean disabled people’s needs
are not met.”

Overall, however, the directive has been
welcomed. Chief executive of the DRC Bert Massie, said: “The
commission thoroughly welcomes the fact that this new EU Directive
will mean all employers, apart from the armed forces, will come
under the Disability Discrimination Act by 2004 – including smaller
firms, which employ 15 or less staff and are currently exempt.”

The DRC is now calling for any new
arrangements to ensure that there is no reduction in the resources
available to tackle disability.

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