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Background to 'How fair is Britain?' review


The Triennial Review project which has given rise to 'How fair is Britain?' has its roots in the Equality Act 2006

With the assent of the Equality Act in 2006, Section 12 of the Act endowed the newly-formed Equality and Human Rights Commission with a responsibility to monitor the progress that society makes  towards becoming one that is more equal, where every individual has the opportunity to achieve their potential, and where people treat each other with dignity and respect. This progress must be reported on every 3 years. Incorporated into our 2009-2012 Strategic Plan under Priority 5, 'Building an authoritative and responsive organisation' the Commission began the process of compiling this Review, to meet our obligations under the Equality Act.

The Triennial Review project formally begun in July 2009, with the aim of utilising the Equality Measurement Framework (EMF) indicators as a starting point on which to build our Review. The EMF operated as a skeleton which allowed the Triennial Review team to conduct some initial data-scoping exercises in relation to the EMF indicators, and identify any gaps in data that could be filled by external research contractors. By Christmas 2009 seven research institutions had been commissioned to conduct gap-filling research and analysis for the Triennial Review, focusing on secondary analysis of existing data, identifying small-scale and qualitative research projects, and gauging the performance of the protected equality groups against the indicators in the EMF.

The key areas that these research projects focused on were:

  • Life and Health: Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Access to Housing and Standard of Living: Centre for Housing Policy, University of York
  • Financial Exclusion: Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Civic Life: Institute for Social Change, University of Manchester
  • Employment: Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster
  • Education and Learning: School of Education, University of Southampton
  • Legal and Criminal Justice: UNESCO Chair in Gender Research Group, Lancaster University
  • Wellbeing: The Young Foundation 

Alongside this, the Commission also invited stakeholders to submit their experiences of inequality and unfairness via our Call for Evidence between October 2009 and January 2010. We received submissions from 113 different sources, which included  face-to-face/telephone discussions as well as email/postal and online contributions. These submissions, some from organisations presenting information and data relating to their own stakeholders, and others from individuals and concerned members of society who felt that Britain is not a society free from discrimination, helped to develop our thinking around the Triennial Review, tying the lived experiences of stakeholders, to the data that we were amassing. A number of the submissions were confidential, but we have been able to publish 87 of the Call for Evidence submissions here on our website.

Through the early months of 2010, alongside the ongoing drafting of the chapters, the Triennial Review team sought to produce early 'initial analyses' drafts for each of the equality strands - collating the information received from stakeholders, internal desk research, as well as the research being conducted by the commissioned institutions (above). These documents were prepared in anticipation of seven strand-based roundtables (as well as a roundtable focusing on Human Rights, and one on the Private Sector), at which we spoke with 97 different stakeholders about our initial research and findings, and welcomed comments and feedback on our early work. These sessions proved to be incredibly helpful, validating some of our analysis and challenging other findings as well as directing us towards further areas and issues for consideration..

In June 2010, the commissioned research was received by the Triennial Review team, and was incorporated into Part II of the draft Review. At this point, the draft chapters were sent to Government departments. ¹  for fact-checking to ensure that our research was incorporating the most up-to-date data, and that the data were being contextualised appropriately. Alongside this, the Commission began to look at what conclusions could be drawn from the vast swathes of data and analysis, developing the content of Part III of the Review.

By August 2010 this process was completed. On 1st October 2010, the same the day that the Equality Act 2010 came into force, the Triennial Review: How Fair is Britain? was laid before Parliament. The public launch of the Triennial Review took place on 11 October  2010.

What it took to produce the Triennial Review

  • 176,388 words
  • 16,000 hours of labour by the Social Analysis team
  • 1542 footnotes
  • 823 stakeholders directly invited to partake in our Call for Evidence
  • 652 pages
  • 113 stakeholder submissions to help inform our research and contribute towards our thinking
  • 97 stakeholders partook in feedback roundtables on our initial analysis
  • 117 significant findings
  • 40 indicators against which society was measured
  • 17 chapters, comprising of 9 core evidence chapters
  • 15 equality challenges that modern society faces
  • 5 major objectives

Read a summary of the How fair is Britain report

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Department of Communities and Local Government, Department for Education, Department of Health, Department for Transport, Department for Work and Pensions, Government Equalities Office, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government)

Last updated: 06 Nov 2017