In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all) were agreed by world leaders at the United Nations. The UK strongly advocated for the inclusion of SDG 5; a commitment to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030. Continue reading “Women and Equalities Committee report: Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 5 in the UK”
The NHS published an interactive report in April 2017 on the potential differences in the treatment, health status, and outcomes of people with learning disabilities.
Citizens Advice has published Taking Control: the need for fundamental bailiff reform in March 2017. It detailed ongoing problems with bailiff behaviour, ineffective complaints mechanisms, the difficulty of suspending bailiff action and problems arising from the new bailiff fee structure.
Debt advice agencies and other charities have long raised concerns about the way bailiffs collect debt. The 2014 Taking Control of Goods reforms to bailiff law in England and Wales – which aimed to clean up the industry, ensure that bailiffs played by the rules and protect people from unfair practices – have had only limited success. For example, people contacting Citizens Advice still report widespread problems with bailiffs and the reforms have also created some new problems.
Based on the experiences of the people Citizens Advice has helped, the report makes recommendations for fundamental changes to protect people in financial difficulty and improve the practices of bailiffs.
Read full report.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and ICM conducted a major poll of over 1,000 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working adults, as part of a project to combat racism in the workplace in March 2017.
The poll found that:
- Over a third of BAME people had witnessed or experienced racial abuse in the seven months following the referendum vote;
- 2 in 5 people (38%) have seen racist material online; and
- 1 in 4 (27%) have seen racist graffiti, posters or leaflets.
The TUC called on the government to:
- Make private sector companies responsible for promoting equal treatment throughout their activities just as public sector organisations already are;
- Make sure the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has enough funding to take more legal cases and make sure the law reflects how contemporary racism plays out; and
- Develop a full race equality strategy, which includes tough action to crack down on harassment and discrimination at work, online and in everyday life.
The Parliament’s Education Service launched a March 2017 series of lesson plans that look at equality laws and change over time. The citizenship resource, which is aimed at young people aged 11-16, will enable students to:
- Identify an Act of Parliament that has helped make society more equal
- Describe how equalities legislation promotes and protects individuals and groups in society
- Explain the effect laws have on society
- Plan and take forward a simple action to address inequality in their school or wider community
The Scottish Human Rights Commission is recruiting a Legal Officer to join their Strategy and Legal team. This is a permanent, full time position (37 hours per week) based in Edinburgh.
The post-holder will deliver professional and effective legal advisory and support services to the Commission, as well as develop and lead the Commission’s work in relation to its statutory legal functions of interventions in civil proceedings and conducting of inquiries.
Applications close at 24 April 2017. Interviews: 11 May 2017.
Friends, Families and Travellers launched an online learning programme in April 2017, designed to address key themes and questions that arise in service providers. The course is designed for members of the statutory, voluntary or private sector who want to engage or work more effectively with Gypsies and Travellers – as well as develop knowledge of culture, traditions and history.
The course contains four modules:
- Gypsy and Traveller History and Culture;
- Challenges faced by Gypsies and Travellers;
- Positive Strategy – Accessing Services; and,
- Positive Strategy – Participation
The Young Women’s Trust (YWT) published the “What matters to young mums?” report in March 2017.
Between October 2016 and February 2017, the Young Women’s Trust conducted research with mothers aged under 25 to find out what was important to them, and what they thought about work, children and employment support.
The report found that:
- 61% of mothers aged 16-24 said that they were only just managing financially.
- A quarter (27%) of young mums currently used foodbanks or had used them in the past.
- Young mothers feel that they are judged negatively because of their age. They are criticised by members of public and feel alienated from mainstream mother and toddler groups.
- The 15 hours free childcare should be available year-round rather than 38 weeks in a year to enable young women on low pay to reap the benefits of work.
- YWT would like to see the National Living Wage extended so it applies to those under the age of 25.
- YWT recommends that the NHS review its practice and training about bias or discrimination related to young motherhood.
Download the full report.
The Joint Committee for Human Rights (JCHR) released the report Human Rights and Business 2017: Promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability in April 2017. The Committee called for stronger legislation, stronger enforcement, and clearer routes to justice.
- The National Action Plan is the UK’s statement of intent on human rights – it must be more ambitious and set specific targets by which to measure progress;
- The Government should introduce legislation to impose a duty on all companies to prevent human rights abuses, as well as a criminal offence of ‘failure to prevent human rights abuses’ similar to offences created for bribery in the Bribery Act 2010;
- The Government should introduce legislation to enable prosecution of a parent company where human rights abuses are found further down the supply chain;
- The Government’s proposed ‘Great Repeal Bill’ must replicate the human rights protections enshrined in EU law;
- The Government should support the proposals contained within theModern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill (requiring commercial businesses and public bodies to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual report and accounts); and,
- Human rights must be a key component of future trade deals.
- The Government should extend protections provided by theGangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority to other industries, such as construction;
- Government procurement must lead by example and exclude companies who do not undertake appropriate due diligence to ensure human rights standards are met; and,
- The Government should give local authorities the powers to close down business premises found to exploit workers (e.g. where there has been found to be underpayment of wages, lack of employment contracts or where there is a significant disregard of health and safety regulations).
Clearer Routes to Justice
- The UK National Contact Point (NCP) must be given the resources and government support to be an effective route to justice; and,
- Tribunal fees must be reduced to remove the disincentive for individuals to bring legitimate claims for discrimination and other abuses.
Chair Harriet Harman MP said:
“Article 50 has been triggered. We are removing ourselves from the oversight of EU law and looking to develop new trading opportunities around the world. Human rights protections must not be lost in the rush.”
The House of Commons Library published a report on the starting points of British and EU institutions at the beginning of the Article 50 process (Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to withdraw from the EU, and outlines the procedure for doing so) in March 2017.
The report included the following themes:
- British aims for Brexit
- EU guidelines
- Areas of agreement and potential disagreement
- The UK, Spain and Gibraltar: could Spain block agreement?
Download the full report.