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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 01/03/2005
Adoption of the Equality Standard for Local Government



Summary & Purpose
This report seeks the agreement of the Executive to the formal adoption of the Equality Standard for Local Government. This is to support the Council’s commitments to equality of opportunity as set out in its aims and objectives as well as its policies in respect of equality of opportunity in employment, equality of opportunity in service delivery and its Race Equality Scheme.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX D
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 1ST MARCH 2005

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Title:
Adoption of the Equality Standard for Local Government

[Wards Affected: N/A]
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Summary and purpose:

This report seeks the agreement of the Executive to the formal adoption of the Equality Standard for Local Government. This is to support the Council’s commitments to equality of opportunity as set out in its aims and objectives as well as its policies in respect of equality of opportunity in employment, equality of opportunity in service delivery and its Race Equality Scheme.

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Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

The report addresses equality in employment and service delivery across all Waverley services.

The scope of the impact of the adoption of the Equality Standard would be to ensure protection from unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, disability, nationality, gender, sexuality, age, class, religion or belief, marital status, responsibility for dependents, unrelated criminal activity, or other characteristic which causes person to be treated with injustice.

In connection with disability, the Government has published a Disability Discrimination Bill that, if enacted as drafted, would amongst other things, extend protection from discrimination, under the Disability Discrimination Act, to people with long term, progressive conditions such as cancer, HIV and Multiple Sclerosis.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-Government implications arising directly from this report, although use will be made of new technology, where appropriate, to support progress towards achievement of all the levels in the Equality Standard.

Resource and legal implications:

Except in respect of capital budgets for adaptations to ensure that the Council meets statutory requirements in relation to accessibility to its properties, the Council has not identified a (general fund) budget specifically for the purpose of progressing equality of opportunity. Any expenditure for this purpose has been met from within existing budgets, mainly those held corporately within the Personnel function. Also, no specific staffing resources have been allocated for this purpose, although a number of members of staff have, voluntarily, supported this work in addition to their normal duties.

This report does not propose increases in resources but it is recognised that, at a point in time, in order to move Waverley up the various levels of the Equality Standard, staffing and financial resources may need to be targeted at this work.

Adoption of and progress towards achieving the Equality Standard will help the Council meet its statutory obligations under existing and future anti-discrimination legislation.

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Explanation of the Equality Standard (the Standard) for Local Government

1. The Standard is a nationally recognised framework which has been designed to help local authorities to ‘mainstream’ equalities into all aspects of service and employment. It will support the principles behind already adopted equality policies within Waverley in that it aims to ensure fair treatment and equal access to services and employment for local residents and current and prospective employees. It will help identify any, potentially discriminatory, barriers to equality of opportunity and enable actions to be taken to eliminate those barriers.

2. There are five levels of achievement in the Standard against which a local authority can assess its progress. They are: -

Commitment to a comprehensive equality policy; Assessment and consultation; Setting equality objectives and targets; Information systems and monitoring against targets Achieving and reviewing outcomes

3. The Standard requires best practice in the following thematic areas:

Leadership and corporate commitment;
Consultation, community development and scrutiny;
Service delivery and customer care; and
Employment and training

4. Achieving the Standard will require an effective partnership between the Council and the community that it serves. Specifically, successful implementation will depend upon and involve: -

Councillors to:Provide leadership and support
Ensure resources are available
Engage with the local community
Provide a scrutiny role
Managers, Staff and Trade Unions toWork towards speedy implementation
Organise and participate in training
Challenge existing cultures and traditions
Engage with the community
Community and the voluntary sector toWork with the equality planning process

5. Attached, as Annexe I to this report, is a summary of the Equality Standard for Local Government as endorsed by the bodies that have participated in its development.

The Standard as a National ‘Best Value’ Performance Indicator

6. Achievement of the Standard is now a national Performance Indicator. It replaced the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) standard in 2003/04 as the measure of a local authority’s progress towards equality of opportunity. Under the CRE standard, Waverley had assessed itself as being at Level 1. Although aspects of the Standard at levels 3 and 4 were in place, the Council could not progress beyond level 1 without an effective approach to consulting the local community.

7. The initial assessment against this wider Equality Standard indicates that Level 1 had been achieved – see below. However, the scope for consultation, which has been limited under the CRE standard given the low representation of black and minority ethnic people in the Waverley community, would become more open.

Equality in Waverley

8. The Council has in place appropriate equality policy statements: -

Equal Employment Opportunities (since 1992) Equal Opportunity in Service Delivery (since 1997) Race Equality Statement (adopted in July 2003)

and (some) practices and procedures for implementing those policies.

9. Waverley has, therefore, accepted the need to have these policies in place and has demonstrated its support for the principles behind these policies by making the public commitment, through its Vision, Aims and Objectives, to ensure equal opportunities through every aspect of Council activity.

10. However, no formal decisions have yet been taken to direct resources specifically towards the achievement of that objective.

11. The approach, so far, has been to drive the equality agenda from an officer group, The Equality Advisory Group. This Group advises the Chief Officer Group which, in turn, advises the Executive and the Council. Officers who make up the Group take on this activity voluntarily and in addition to their normal duties. They are committed to this work and make progress but the pace of progress is constrained by the amount of time that the Group members can afford to give to this work. The Group does have a chief officer champion.

12. For further information, Waverley officers participate as active members of the Surrey Equality Partnership. This was set up by Surrey County Council and membership is open to public sector bodies within the County.

Conclusions

13. The adoption of the Standard would require a shift in emphasis given to equality work. It is proposed that the Equality Advisory Group should continue to do the preparatory work but that its terms of reference should be redrafted to reflect the requirements arising out of adopting the Standard.

14. In addition, your officers consider it important that there should also be a Member champion. The most obvious and credible way of doing that would be for a member of the Executive to have equality (and diversity) added to their portfolio.

Recommendation

It is recommended that: -

1. The Equality Standard for Local Government be formally adopted by Waverley Borough Council;

2. Equality/Diversity be added to the portfolio of a Member of the Executive; and

3. Officers review the functions of the Equality Advisory Group with a view to reinforcing the officer support for the equality agenda.

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Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Richard Wood Telephone: 01483 523387

E-mail: rwood@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2004/2005/433