Update on the Review of the Public Sector Equality Duty: March 2013

Leander Neckles, of Necko Consultancy, is a free lance equalities consultant and a Board member of Equanomics-UK.

This article provides a  timetable for the review of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and informs readers about opportunities to submit evidence and participate in planned engagement activities. Information is also provided on possible sources of advice and guidance for those interested in making a written submission. Organisations and individuals with an interest in, or practical experience of the current public sector equality duties or the previous public sector equality duties, are encouraged to participate in this review.
The timetable for the review of the PSED and engagement
The GEO has now indicated that the aim is to ‘produce a report by June 2013.’ In December 2012, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister responded to Mrs Lawrence and Dr Richard Stone and their letter which raised concerns about the review. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said that:

  • ‘we can assure you we will involve a wide range of organizations from the Voluntary and community sector as well as public bodies’;
  • this Government ‘ is committed to supporting transparency and accountability to parliament and we will be engaging with interested parliamentarians throughout the course of the review’;
  • we will be writing to the Chairs of relevant Select Committees, upon its [the Review’s] conclusion, to draw their attention to the key findings and recommendations’.

 To date, there has been limited consultation and engagement with the voluntary and community sector and there also appears to have been little engagement by the Government Equalities Office with interested parliamentarians. There must be proper engagement with parliamentarians before the Government makes a decision on the Review.
The review of the Public Sector Equality (PSED)– call for evidence  
Last month, it was reported that the review of the Public Sector Equality Duty was finally underway but information on how it would be conducted was still being awaited.  This month, on 11th March, the Government Equalities Office issued the call for evidence but the deadline for submitting evidence is very tight - 12th April 2013. The call specifically seeks evidence on:

  • how well understood is the equality duty and guidance;
  •  what are the costs and benefits of the equality duty;
  • how organisations are managing legal risk and ensuring compliance with the equality duty;
  • what changes, if any, would ensure better equality outcomes (e.g. legislative, administrative and/or enforcement changes).

Additionally, the call for evidence states ‘The Chair of the steering group is particularly interested in looking at equalities paperwork and policies related to PSED (particularly in relation to public sector procurement processes) and the collection, retention and use of diversity data by public bodies, for example, in relation to goods, facilities and services.’ Details of this call for evidence can be located on the gov.uk website.
Apart from a small number of round table meetings with public bodies, equalities stakeholder and others and the separate NHS roundtables, this looks like one of the few opportunities to inform this review. Do make a submission if you feel strongly about the Public Sector Equality Duty and have something to say.
Roundtables on the PSED Review by the NHS Employers
On 4th March 2013, the NHS Employers announced, on behalf of the Department of Health, that to feed into the PSED Review, it would ‘gather and evaluate evidence and information (including best practice) from organisations across the NHS.’  The website states that the NHS Employers ‘would like to invite NHS and local government colleagues to attend these sessions, which will be held at the NHS Confederation offices in St James’ Park, London.’ Although no reference is made to voluntary and community organisations, the website does refer to tapping into a range of networks and forums. 
The dates of the roundtables are:

  • Friday 5th April - 10:00 to 12:00
  • Tuesday 9th April - 10:00 to 12:00
  • Friday 19th April - 10:00 to 12:00
  • Friday 19th April - 13:00 to 15:00

Queries about these round tables can be directed to Paul Deemer at NHS Employers (Paul.deemer@nhsemployers.org) or to book visit the NHS Employers website.
Sources of advice for those interested in submitting evidence to the Review of the PSED
For organisations and individuals interested in making a written submission, you may find it helpful to use the guidance, template and briefing information provided by the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF). The briefing information explains that background to the review and the template provides helpful guidance that could assist you to make a submission. 
Race equality focused organisations may also find the information provided by Voice4Change England helpful.