Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Government ignores Equality Act - from Operation Black Vote

 Government ignores Equality Act?  [1.3461538461538]

A coalition of BME organisations -BARAC- are challenging the Government as to whether or not they have contravened Public sector Equality Law. Over the past three months more than 2000 individuals have turned up to the groups meetings around the county.
This is an extract from a piece written by the organisation's chair, Lee Jasper.

The Governments budget decisions announced in the autumn last year have been consistently challenged by a range of equality groups who believe that the Treasury has failed in its legal duty to conduct a comprehensive equality impact assessment as required under the Equality Act 2010.

The Treasury has published an assessment outlining its expert view that there would be little if any disproportionate impact on black communities.
However there is widespread anger and growing concern among black groups about emerging evidence of the disproportionate impact on black communities of Government budget cuts.

The consensus view is that Government has failed to adequately assess the potential discriminatory impact of spending cuts on black communities.
Such was the concern that the Equality Human Rights Commission (EHRC)announced in November last year that it was to launch a formal and comprehensive equality investigation into the Treasury budget setting process.

In addition the 1990 Trust on behalf of the black anti cuts campaign Black Activist Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC) wrote a series of letters to the Treasury under the Freedom of Information Act beginning in November last year requesting a series of policy and research documents that the Treasury cites as informing their equality assessments.

The Government has so far refused to respond to their request and has exceeded the lawful time period to provide such a response. The Treasury has surprisingly cited its intention to apply a blanket exemption designating the requested information as restricted under the Public Interest Immunity Act.

The 1990 Trust and BARAC have appealed this decision leaving the Treasury 21 days to respond. Their next step, if the ministers refuse to provide this information is to appeal the Governments non-disclosure to the Information Commissioner and to refer the matter to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. There are additional concerns that many local authorities may have also failed to comply with the Equalities Act in setting their budgets.

The Government have 21 days to formally respond to this appeal and provide the information as requested.

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Operation Black Vote is the first and only initiative to focus exclusively on the Black democratic deficit in the UK