Doubts over single equality commission on eve of launch

Significant doubts exist over the potential of the new single equality watchdog to succeed, on the eve of its launch on 1 October.

The Commission for Equality and Human Rights will take responsibility for tackling inequality and discrimination in England, Scotland and Wales on issues of race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation and belief.

It replaces the Equal Opportunities Commission, Disability Rights Commission and Commission for Racial Equality. But all three organisations have doubts over the CEHR’s potential, given its funding, the way it has been established and the policy environment in which it will operate.

Key concerns include:

  • Government plans to reform duties on public bodies to promote race, gender and disability equality, which all three commissions claim will lead to equality issues being sidelined, weakening the CEHR’s enforcement powers.
  • The CEHR’s budget, which the EOC and CRE believe is too low at £70m a year.
  • The fact that the commission will not be fully staffed on 1 October. It is still recruiting directors to take operational leadership of its functions.

However, the CEHR itself says that its budget will be sufficient, that its cross-cutting remit will enable it to more effectively tackle inequality by pooling expertise and knowledge, and it will be more independent than the existing commissions.

Read the full story on the issue.

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