Secretary of State Duty

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 placed a general duty on public authorities to promote disability equality known as the disability equality duty.  The duty places specific requirements on certain Secretaries of State to publish a report every 3 years, setting out the current position of disability equality across their policy sector, and proposals for coordinated action.  In Scotland, Ministers must also publish reports every 3 years.

The duty on Secretaries of State is a significant opportunity for Government to collectively review progress towards disability equality in their policy sectors and to propose coordinated action to improve performance.  In Wales, the First Minister has the duty to report on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government on how public authorities in devolved areas are promoting disability equality.

The First Secretary of State Reports

The Office for Disability Issues has produced a summary document 'Secretary of State Reports on Disability Equality - Overview'. You can access this summary document and all of the 2008 Secretary of State reports at the Office of Disability website.

The report from the Welsh Assembly Government can be found at the Equality and Diversity section of their website.

The Assessment of Secretary of State Reports

In line with the Commission's regulatory role for the public sector duties, the Commission assessed the very first Secretary of State Reports for Whitehall Departments.  The Commission's key priorities were that there were no major gaps in the scope of each sector's coverage; that progress and gaps in data were identified; and that coordinated action was proposed to deal with this. In order to help inform our assessments, the Commission ran a series of roundtable events to gather the views of disabled people.  Disabled people also submitted their views on the reports to the Commission through email.

The Commission then wrote to each Secretary of State outlining the findings from our assessments.  We asked each Secretary of State to respond to our letters. These can all be found below.

The Rt. Hon Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS)

Letter sent to BIS  | Response from BIS 

The Rt. Hon John Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG)

Letter sent to CLG   | Response from CLG

The Rt. Hon Benjamin Bradshaw MP, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)

Letter sent to DCMS   | Response from DCMS  | Annex to DCMS response

The Rt. Hon Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)

Letter sent to DCSF | Response from DCSF

The Rt. Hon Hiliary Benn MP, Secretary of State for Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Letter sent to DEFRA  | Response from DEFRA 

The Rt. Hon Lord Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, Department for Transport (DfT)

Letter sent to DfT | Response from DfT

The Rt. Hon Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Health, Department of Health (DH)

Letter sent to DH | Response from DH | Annex to DH response

The Rt. Hon Yvette Cooper MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Letter sent to DWP | Response from DWP | Annex to DWP repsonse

The Rt. Hon Alan Johnson, Home Secretary, Home Office

Letter sent to the Home Office | Response from Home Office

The Rt. Hon Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Ministry of Justice (MoJ)

Letter sent to MoJ | Response from MoJ | Annex to MoJ response

Involving disabled people

In order to help inform our assessments, in March 2009, the Commission undertook a series of roundtable events with disabled people to gather their views on the progress Secretaries of State had made. The roundtable events were facilitated by independent disability experts who also wrote up a report on the views they gathered from the involvement exercise.  You can read the report here.

These reports offer us all the first real cross government baseline on progress towards disability equality across all the sectors.  They are a useful tool to help the general public and public authorities gain a better picture on disability equality in each sector and learn about the latest government initiatives to progress this agenda further.  The assessments from the Commission will also show where the Commission and disability stakeholders believe progress has been positive as well as setting out where we believe Departments and their sectors need to concentrate their efforts.

The information will also be used by the Commission to help inform our Triennial Review on equality and human rights and future policy work. 

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