Equality information on our services and use of our legal and regulatory powers

The Commission routinely collates information disaggregated by protected characteristic about our services and our use of our legal powers. This includes equality information relating to:

  • Information, advice and guidance provided through our helpline, specialist legal helpline and website.
  • Our grant funding programme.
  • Legal casework, mediation/conciliation and interventions.
  • Enforcement and compliance action.

We collate equality information in relation to service access and usage (and satisfaction) including complaints as well as the success rates and outcomes of the legal cases we support and enforcement action we take.

We use this information to:

  • Establish who is accessing our services to identify whether there is any under-representation for people with the different protected characteristics.
  • Understand the needs of our service users and whether there is any disadvantage faced by people with the different protected characteristics.
  • Benchmark our performance against organisations providing similar services to identify areas for improvement.

We also use equality information about our services when making decisions regarding any potential changes to them. This information is used as part of the consideration of the impact these changes may have on the different protected groups.

We are currently in the process of strengthening our equality monitoring in relation to the equality profile of service users to improve declaration rates.

This information is published in our annual equality reports, together with our equality priorities and improvement actions. See our annual equality progress reports.

The activities that underpin the delivery of the improvement actions are also included in our annual business plan.

Our next annual equality report covering 2011/12 will be published in September 2012. We have therefore published  equality information relating to our services covering the period up to November 2011 in an interim 2011/12 equality progress report.

This information will be used to inform the development of our equality objectives to be published in April on our equality priorities page.

Helpline service

We have conducted a number of equality impact assessments relating to changes to our helpline service and the findings of these assessments can be viewed on our equality impact assessments page.

Following the 2011 Government Equalities Office’s (GEO) review of information, advice, and support on equality and human rights issues the government have decided to replace our helpline service with a new Equality Advisory and Support service. The Government Equalities Office Policy Equality Statement and supporting equality information relating to this decision can be viewed on the Home Office website.

Strategic funding programme

There has been a number of equality impact assessments completed on our strategic funding programme and the findings on our equality impact assessments page.

In 2012 the government announced its intention to cease funding for our strategic and legal grants programme. The Government Equalities Office Policy Equality Statement relating to this decision can be viewed on the Home Office website.

The Commission has a unique set of legal powers to enforce equality laws, eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality, promote good relations and protect human rights. We only use our legal powers where other approaches are not effective, and normally in support of strategic objectives with wider impacts than individual cases.

The criteria we use to determine whether to provide assistance to individuals, support or intervene in legal proceedings or take enforcement action, is set out in our legal strategy and our enforcement and compliance policy.

These are currently being updated to reflect the priority areas for action identified within our 2012-15 strategic plan and will be published at: (Link not live yet)

We collate equality monitoring information in relation to the legal assistance we provide on both the equality profile of the individuals being supported as well as the protected characteristic the matter relates to. We also collate information on the outcomes of the cases and whether our objectives for providing assistance were met.

A summary of the equality information relating to the use of our legal powers is published in our annual equality and diversity report and within our business plan equality impact assessment.

More detailed information is provided in the regular legal enforcement updates published on our website: legal enforcement updates.

We have published the equality information relating to our legal actions in 2011/12 covering the period April to November 2011 in our interim equalities progress report 2011/12.

We recognise the need to strengthen our equality information in relation to the use of our legal powers around success rates and outcomes.

Regulatory decisions

The Commission's regulatory functions and powers are set out in the Equality Act 2006.

For us, the purpose of regulation is to change behaviour in society and to prevent and stop unlawful actions through working with individuals and organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors. We do this to improve equality, human rights and good relations in society. Regulation does not just mean legal enforcement action such as inquiries and investigations. It also means providing advice, raising awareness and understanding, transferring expertise and supporting organisations in their efforts to comply with the law.

In short, we have a range of tools we can use, and we will always choose the method that will work best in each circumstance. We base our actions on evidence and an assessment of what is in the public interest. In so doing, we are bound by the Hampton Code of Practice for Regulators, which outlines five principles of good regulation: proportionality, accountability, consistency, transparency and targeting. Our regulatory principles are set out in our business plan.

In Autumn 2011 we piloted a new regulatory decision-making pathway. This was designed to ensure that all our regulatory decisions are systematically subjected to public-interest/public value considerations and to increase the transparency of the decision-making.

Equality monitoring was undertaken as an integral part of the pilot to enable us to identify if any action was required to widen the sources that result in an issue being considered for regulatory interventions and then ensure that the outcomes are fair across the different protected characteristics.

Equality information from our pilot regulatory decisions pathways can be viewed in our interim equalities progress report 2011/12.
 

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