Procurement and Equalities

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2002 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
31 July 2002

Conference notes that the Audit Commission recently raised concerns on the performance of local authorities in respect of equalities, particularly in service delivery.

Conference therefore welcomes the amendment to the Local Government Act 1988 part II powers, which removes the restriction preventing equality considerations from being taken into account in the awarding of contracts when tendering out services.

Conference further welcomes Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 which incorporates a positive duty on public authorities to promote equality on grounds including sexual orientation. Conference notes that this duty extends to the procurement of services and has resulted in provision of some services being won back by in-house tenders after a period of private provision.

Conference is disappointed that this remains a discretion in England and Wales and believes that pubic bodies should be under a similar duty to ensure that equalities remain an integral requirement of any tendering process. This should apply to both employment practice and service delivery.

Conference welcomes ILGA-Europe’s position paper proposing the adoption by the European Union of a directive to prohibit discrimination in areas outside employment.

Conference is concerned by attempts through the European Union (EU) to restrict or remove social clauses in domestic legislation on public procurement, on the grounds of promoting ‘open competition’ within the EU.

Conference instructs the National Lesbian and Gay Committee to: with the service groups for the negotiation of guidance from the employers to ensure that equalities issues, including lesbian and gay issues, are an integral part of all public services, including those put out to tender; with the Affiliate Political Fund (APF) and National Executive Council (NEC) to campaign for a legal duty, rather than a power, to incorporate equalities issues into the tendering process;

3.Work with the APF, NEC and the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-Europe) to lobby the Government and MEPs for the strongest wording on equality issues in any European legislation on procurement;

4.Work with the APF, NEC and ILGA-Europe in support of a directive on discrimination in areas outside employment;

5.Work with other parts of the union to launch a campaign, including development of bargaining guidance highlighting the issues;

6.Raise the issues with all relevant organisations at every opportunity.