Launch of ‘What Works’ evidence centres

On 4 March 2013, the Government announced a new network of ‘what works’ evidence centres at an event hosted at Nesta with ESRC, BIG Lottery, Cabinet Office and others.

The What Works Network, a key action in the Civil Service reform plan, will consist of two existing centres of excellence – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Educational Endowment Foundation – plus four new independent institutions responsible for gathering, assessing and sharing the most robust evidence to inform policy and service delivery in tackling crime, promoting active and independent ageing, effective early intervention, and fostering local economic growth. A What Works National Adviser will chair the Network.

Click here for the Government press release

Click here for details on Nesta’s website

 

Ministerial statement on caste discrimination

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) logo.

On 1 March 2013, Helen Grant, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, announced that the Government has no current plans to add caste to the definition of race in the Equality Act 2010 and is instead to run an educational programme to raise awareness of caste discrimination among affected groups, including employers.

The Government Equalities Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government have appointed Talk for a Change to engage with the affected communities to run an educational programme to help tackle this complex and sensitive issue.

Click here for the full written ministerial statement

Click here for comment by Mark Hammond, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (1 March 2013)

 

 

The Mental Health (Discrimination) Act

The House of Commons logo.

On 28 February 2013, the Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013 became law.

The Act removes the last significant forms of discrimination in law from our society. This is a big step towards breaking down the prejudice surrounding mental health and supporting people with mental health problems.

Click here for link to the Act

Click here for statement by the Equality and Human Rights Commission

 

Judicial Review of abolition of the Independent Living Fund

The EHRC logo.

On 13 March 2013, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) intervened in a Judicial Review at the High Court into the abolition of the Independent Living Fund, a move which affects  20,000 disabled people.

The closure of the Fund, which provides money to enable disabled people to live in the community, will mean them becoming entirely dependent on local authority services.  Stuart Bracking and other claimants argue they will lose their independence as a result, forcing many to live in hospitals or residential care.

Click here for more details.

European Parliament resolution on homophobic and transphobic hate speech

The European Commission emblem.

On 14 March 2013 the European Parliament called for a ban on homophobic and transphobic hate crime/speech.

In its resolution the European Parliament called for  homophobic and transphobic hate crime and speech to be criminalised across the European Union (EU).

Currently EU law criminalises only racist and xenophobic speech and crime in the 2008 Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia.

Click here for resolution

Click here for ILGA Europe’s media release

 

BIS: consultation on early conciliation and measures on workplace disputes

BIS

On 17 January 2013, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) launched a consultation titled ‘Early conciliation: consultation on proposals for implementation’.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson also announced plans to reduce the number of workplace disputes that end up at Employment Tribunal.

The following detail of the consultation is provided:

We announced, in the government response to the Resolving workplace disputes consultation, our intention to introduce an early conciliation process. This process would make it a requirement for most prospective claimants to send the details of their claim to Acas before they are able to lodge the claim with the employment tribunal. This proposal has received broad support from all stakeholders. It will enable Acas to offer the parties the opportunity to resolve their dispute without the need for tribunal involvement. We are taking the necessary primary powers to introduce early conciliation in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.

The implementation of early conciliation requires secondary legislation and the development of the necessary administrative process. This consultation sets out how we intend that early conciliation should operate, together with a draft set of rules of procedure, and some questions on which we would welcome views.

This consultation closed on 15 February 2013.

Click here for details of consulation

Click here for announcement by Jo Swinson

European Court judgement in the case of Eweida and others

On 15 January 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruling on the case of Eweida and Others v. United Kingdom was published.

The Court found that the rights of Nadia Eweida had been violated under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, however, in the case of the three other claimants, the Court concluded that the interference with their freedom to manifest their religion was legitimate and proportionate.

The case originated in four applications (nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10) against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by four British nationals, Ms Nadia Eweida, Ms Shirley Chaplin, Ms Lillian Ladele and Mr Gary McFarlane (“the applicants”), on 10 August 2010, 29 September 2010, 3 September 2010 and 24 June 2010 respectively.

The applicants complained that domestic law failed adequately to protect their right to manifest their religion. Ms Eweida and Ms Chaplin complain specifically about restrictions placed by their employers on their wearing of a cross visibly around their necks. Ms Ladele and Mr McFarlane complained specifically about sanctions taken against them by their employers as a result of their concerns about performing services which they considered to condone homosexual union. Ms Eweida, Ms Chaplin and Mr McFarlane invoked Article 9 of the Convention, taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14, while Ms Ladele complained only under Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 9.

Welcoming the judgment, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that it would be working with employers and religious groups to help them interpret the ruling.

Click here for judgment

Click here for press release summarising judgment and details of the case

Click here for EHRC response and click here for details of EHRC intervention in the case and related consultation

Click here for British Humanist Association response

Click here for ILGA Europe response

Click here for Liberty response

Click here for response from the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Click here for report on the BBC website

Click here for article in Personnel Today (15 January 2013)

Click here for article in Local Government Lawyer (15 January 2013)

 

Equality and Human Rights Commission appointments and budget

The EHRC logo.

On 14 January 2013, the new board for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was announced by the Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller.

At the same time, Mrs Miller announced the Commission’s indicative budget for the next two years.

The new board includes:

  • Deputy Chair: Caroline Waters OBE
  • Disability Commissioner: Chris Holmes MBE

Commissioners are:

  • Evelyn Asante-Mensah OBE
  • Laura Carstensen
  • Professor Swaran Singh
  • Sarah Veale CBE

Click here for announcement on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website

Click here for full list of Commission members on the EHRC website

Click here for Comprehensive Review of the EHRC’s budget

White Paper: ‘The single-tier pension: a simple foundation for saving’

On 14 January 2013, the Government published a White Paper outlining proposals to reform the State Pension into a single-tier State Pension.

The White Paper also includes proposals for a regular and structured mechanism with which to consider changes to the State Pension age in the future.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith said:

This reform is good news for women who for too long have been effectively punished by the current system. The Single Tier will mean that more women can get a full state pension in their own right, and stop this shameful situation where they are let down by the system when it comes to retirement because they have taken time out to care for their family.

Click here for details

Click here for Age UK Briefing on the White Paper