EHRC report: ‘Protecting Information Privacy’

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In August 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commision published ‘Protecting Information Privacy’.

This report examines the threats to information privacy that have emerged in recent years, focusing on the activities of the state. It shows that current privacy law is failing to stop breaches of personal data privacy and is not keeping pace with the rapid growth in personal data collection.

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Government guidance on cuts to voluntary sector funding

Department for Communities and Local Government

On 2 September 2011, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles published guidance to local authorities on how to protect voluntary and community groups from disproportionate cuts to their funding.

The guidance confirms the need to consult voluntary and community organisations. It also states that – in the interests of economy and efficiency – authorities are not obliged to undertake diversity questionnaires.

The guidance states:

‘Authorities should seek to avoid passing on disproportionate reductions – by not passing on larger reductions to the voluntary and community sector and small businesses as a whole, than they take on themselves – and in particular:

  • An authority intending to reduce or end funding (where ‘funding’ means both grant funding and any fixed term contract) or other support to a voluntary and community organisation or small business should give at least three months’ notice of the actual reduction to both the organisation involved and the public/service users.
  • An authority should actively engage the organisation and service users as early as possible before making a decision on: the future of the service; any knock-on effect on assets used to provide this service; and the wider impact on the local community.
  • Authorities should make provision for the organisation, service users, and wider community to put forward options on how to reshape the service or project. Local authorities should assist this by making available all appropriate information, in line with the government’s transparency agenda.’

The guidance also states:

‘To achieve the right balance – and before deciding how to fulfil their Best Value Duty – authorities are under a Duty to Consult representatives of a wide range of local persons; this is not optional. Authorities must consult representatives of council tax payers, those who use or are likely to use services provided by the authority, and those appearing to the authority to have an interest in any area within which the authority carries out functions. Authorities should include local voluntary and community organisations and small businesses in such consultation. This should apply at all stages of the commissioning cycle, including when considering the decommissioning of services. In the interests of economy and efficiency, it is not necessary for authorities to undertake lifestyle or diversity questionnaires of suppliers or residents.’

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EHRC work on the Convention for the Rights of Disabled People

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In August 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a briefing document on the activities it is carrying out  across Britain to fulfil its role as one of the designated independent bodies which promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention in the UK.

The United Nations Convention for the Rights of Disabled People (UNCRPD) is an international human rights agreement to protect and promote the human rights of disabled people throughout the world. The UK Government ratified the Convention in June 2009. This means that the UK Government (including the devolved Governments) must take concrete action to comply with the legal rights and obligations contained in the Convention.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission together with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland are the four designated independent bodies to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention in the UK. Collectively, the Commissions are the UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM) for the Convention.

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