EHRC 2013/14 corporate plan

The EHRC logo.

On 5 June 2013, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published its corporate plan for 2013/14.

The work programme contained in the plan is based on a prioritisation of where the Commission can add most value to the protection and promotion of equality and human rights through the effective use of its unique powers and duties as a UN National Human Rights Institution.

EU-wide protection for victims of domestic violence

The European Commission emblem.

In May 2013, the European Parliament voted with an overwhelming majority (602 votes in favour, 23 against, 63 abstentions) to endorse the European Commission’s proposal for an EU-wide protection order. The new regulation will mean that citizens (in most cases women) who have suffered domestic violence can rely on a restraining order obtained in their home country wherever they are in the EU: the protection will travel with the citizens.

In practice, the EU law will benefit women in particular: around one in five women in Europe have suffered physical violence at least once in their life, according to surveys.

Click here for announcement

Open Public Services 2013 implementation update

Open Public Services

The second annual implementation update on the Open Public Services reform programme was published in May 2013.

The 2013 Update sets out the Government’s achievements in modernising education, health, local government and other public services. In particular the update shows how the Government is increasing choice and control for individuals, giving more decision making powers to local areas and communities, and delivering value for money for the tax payer.

The 2013 Update is published alongside the Government’s initial response to David Boyle’s Independent Review into barriers to choice in public services, three further Choice Frameworks – in health, early years and education – and a new Choice Charter.

The Open Public Services White Paper was published in July 2011 and set out the government’s vision for public services reform. These plans for modernising services are based on five principles:

  • Choice and control – Wherever possible we will increase choice.
  • Decentralisation – Power should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level.
  • Diversity – Public services should be open to a range of providers.
  • Fairness – We will ensure fair access to public services.
  • Accountability – Public services should be accountable to users and taxpayers.

These five principles are linked. Their combined effect is that for the majority of public services, power will be placed in the hands of individuals and local communities where appropriate. People will be able to choose what sort of service they want and find the best provider to meet their needs.

Click here for details on the Open Public Services website

Click here for Open Public Services 2013 full report

Click here for Choice Charter

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill receives Royal Assent

The House of Commons logo.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013, following the House of Lords vote against removal of the EHRC’s general duty and in favour of caste protection.

In a ping-pong session on 22 April 2013, the House of Lords voted against the repeal of Section 3 of the Equality Act 2006 (covering the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s general duty) and also voted in favour of making caste a protected characteristic (as an aspect of race) under equality legislation through a new clause in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.

On 23 April, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, tweeted that ‘Equalities Minister Jo Swinson has notified me that the Govt is u-turning on it move to repeal the EHRC’s general duty’.

The BBC reported that ‘Caste discrimination is to be outlawed in the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced in what is a U-turn on previous government policy’.

Click here for debate on Hansard (22 April)

Click here for link to Chuka Umunna’s tweet (23 April)

Click here for report on the BBC website (23 April)

Click here for announcement on the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills website (25 April)

Click here for further information about the Bill and links to EDF briefings

Government plans for reform of Judicial Review

New Ministry of Justice

On 23 April 2013, the Ministry of Justice published ‘Reform of Judicial Review: the Government response’, including details of the reforms it will be taking forward following the consultation that ran from 13 Dec 2012 to 24 Jan 2013.

The Government plans to:

  • reduce time limits for bringing a claim from three months to six weeks in planning cases and 30 days procurement cases;
  • introduce a new fee for an oral renewal hearing, where the claimant does not accept a refusal of permission on the papers, and asks for the decision to be reconsidered at a hearing (an “oral renewal”); and
  • remove the right to an oral renewal where the case is assessed as totally without merit on the papers.

Click here for details

Click here for link to EDF and other responses to the consultation

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – EDF letters to Parliamentarians

The EDF logo.

In April 2013, the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) wrote to Parliamentarians about tabled amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.

The Bill includes measures to:

  • Remove the Commission for Equality and Human Rights general duty,
  • Remove the Commission for Equality and Human Rights duty to promote good relations,
  • Remove provisions to protect people from third party harassment, and
  • Remove the formal procedure which enables applicants to ask questions of an alleged discriminator (the questionnaire procedure).

EDF has produced several briefings on the Bill for parliamentarians – details below.

On 19 April, the Equal Rights Trust (ERT) wrote to members of the House of Lords, urging them to oppose a narrower mandate for the Commission and to back amendments introducing protection from caste-based discrimination.

Click here for EDF’s open letter to Members of Parliament (15 April 2013)

Click here for ERT letter (19 April)

Click here for EDF briefing for the House of Lords for the report stage of the Bill (March 2013)

Click here for link to EDF briefing (November 2012)

Click here for link to EDF briefing (October 2012)

Click here for details of the Bill on the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills website

Click here for details of the Bill’s passage on the Parliament website

Please also see items on Government response to consultation on repeal of two enforcement provisions and Government response to consultation on employer liability for harassment on the EDF website.

Commission on the Status of Women: Agreement on violence against women and girls

The United Nations General Assembly logo.

The fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013. It culminated in the adoption of agreed conclusions for actions to end violence against women and girls in the following areas:

A. Strengthening the implementation of legal and policy frameworks and accountability

B. Addressing structural and underlying causes and risk factors so as to prevent violence against women and girls

C. Strengthening multisectoral services, programmes and responses to violence against women and girls

D. Improving the evidence-base

The UK Government welcomed the agreement.

Click here for details (including links to papers from the session)

Click here for agreement

Click here for UK Government response


Employment Law Review update


‘Employment Law 2013: Progress on Reform’ was published by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills in March 2013. The paper sets out the Government’s vision for Employment Law Reform, progress to date, and strategy for the remainder of Parliament.

The Employment Law Review was launched in May 2010.

Click here for paper