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2007 Local Government Service Group Conference
23 February 2007
Carried as Amended

Conference welcomes the equality duties on race, disability and gender which require local authorities to promote equality of opportunity and eliminate discrimination for service users and staff, rather than wait for individuals to complain. Existing practices and any changes to employment or service delivery must be assessed to examine their impact – giving branches a new opportunity to negotiate and organise for equality.

However, Conference believes that it is imperative to learn from the introduction of the race equality duty and the failure of many local authorities to implement it. We must ensure that the three new duties are fully implemented and deliver the right outcomes in local government. Mainstreaming equality is the way forward.

The Equality Standard for England and Wales has been revised to include the new equality duties and anti discrimination and equal treatment for sexual orientation, religion, belief and age. The revised Standard has also strengthened the need for consultation with unions and introduced an independent assessment process.

Compliance with the Equality Standard is currently a Best Value Performance Indicator, so councils’ action or inaction can affect their Comprehensive Performance Assessment.

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill 2006 proposes to abolish Best Value reviews and introduce a risk assessment framework. The number of national performance indicators will be cut to 200. While this may be welcome, Conference believes that the Equality Standard will have more effect in mainstreaming equalities if compliance continues to be assessed.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1Work with the self-organised groups to ensure that branches receive guidance to enable them to negotiate implementation of the equality duties and ongoing compliance. This guidance should urge branches to give priority to collective bargaining to achieve equality.

2Lobby for the Equality Standard to be retained as a national target or set as a specific local improvement target through Local Area Agreements

3To work with the Commission for Equality and Human Rights on these issues