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2012 National Black Members' Conference
21 September 2011

Conference on 2 September 2011 Eric Pickles, the Secretary for Communities and Local Government new guidance called ‘A fair deal for the community and voluntary sector.’ The guidance states councils should not carry out equality questionnaires and use the money saved to fund the community and voluntary sector. They claim that the questions asked about disability, ethnicity and sexual orientation duplicate information collected in the Census. Pickles himself said: “Local residents shouldn’t be asked to reveal detailed personal information just because they’ve enquired about getting their bins emptied or how to join their local library. Clamping down on such town hall activity will save taxpayers’ money and protect the privacy of residents of all backgrounds.”

Although Councils have a statutory duty to collect information on how their policies affect protected groups, Pickles says equality questionnaires are not necessary. This clearly comes from a man who has never suffered from prejudice or discrimination.

Councils point out that equality monitoring forms are voluntary and are used to make sure they are properly serving all part of the population. It is important to know whether service users reflect the makeup of the population so that services can be targeted effectively. Equality monitoring helps councils make effective use of very limited resources. It is based on the basic principle of knowing know your customer.

Conference notes that many organisations have already fail to take on the full value of monitoring. ‘Ethnic’ monitoring in isolation keeps the emphasis on ‘ethnic’ minorities rather than institutions as a source for change. Sometimes the sole purpose of monitoring is a way of ‘record keeping’ rather collecting evidence to implement positive action.

Changes to recruitment procedures may have made some difference to employment of minorities but a disproportionately high amount of Black and minority workers are still in the lowest paid 5% of employees. Black and minority people are also less likely to use services such as Adult Social Care and leisure facilities.

As the Tory led Coalition continues to cut regulation and Eric Pickles encourages councils to stop equality monitoring in employment and service provision we need to make sure employers and service providers are aware of the benefits of carrying out equality monitoring.

This conference calls on the National Black Members Committee to work with the NEC to:

1.Launch a campaign for the continuation of monitoring in employment and in service provision and, where necessary, other areas;

2.Produce guidance for branches and regions in promoting the benefits of equality monitoring; and

3.Lobby government and councils to maintain equality monitoring.