The Equality Framework for Local Government

Background

In 2004 Cabinet adopted the Equality Standard  for Local Government (the Standard) – a tool to make  mainstreaming equalities into service delivery and employment an issue for all aspects of the County Council's work.

 The Standard offered a level by level approach with key processes under each of the five levels for building equalities into all aspects of policy making, service delivery and employment. To achieve each level it was necessary for an assessment to be carried out by assessors from other authorities.

This process is called a Diversity Peer Challenge. In November 2008 Worcestershire County Council was assessed to be at level 3 of the Standard.

The New Framework

In April 2009 a new performance framework, the Equality Framework for Local Government (the Framework) was introduced by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to replace the Standard. The Framework builds on and recognises the work that councils have already undertaken under the old Standard, but contains many new features. It aspires to be: The new Framework uses a wider definition of equality based on the idea of equal life chances: "An equal society protects and promotes equal, real freedom and opportunity to live in the way people value and would choose, so that everyone can flourish. An equal society recognises people's different needs, situations and goals, and removes the barriers that limit what people can do and be." This definition is more aspirational than the formal legal definitions of equality. It is about what we can do to create a fairer society and recognises that:

The 3 Levels of Performance

Instead of five achievement levels, the Framework now assesses local authorities on three levels of achievement; developing, achieving and excellent. Having been assessed as being at level 3 of the Standard, this translates to the achieving level of the new Framework.

To be assessed as an achieving authority, the County Council demonstrated the following characteristics:

An excellent authority has the following characteristics:

The County Council has Achieved Level Three of the Equality Standard for Local Government.

Staff throughout the council have been thanked for their efforts towards our equality and diversity work, and for taking part in the Peer Assessment that brought the good news.

The Equality Standard is a national approach to measuring an authority’s achievements in equality and diversity.

Our Peer Assessment, which saw experts from other organisations analysing our work, considered high-profile initiatives such as the Community Fairs and the bespoke Race Equality Conference. It also highlighted our organisational strengths such as two Scrutiny reviews and strong partnership working. We submitted a narrative (PDF 330 KB) which described the Council's work in this area.

Other examples of positive work included the Being Different Together partnership project, the inclusion of accessibility rules in our corporate identity guidance, ‘mystery shopping’ research and the publication of our Accessible Formats Directory.

I’m delighted that our hard work has been recognised,” said our Corporate Diversity Manager, Rukhsana Koser.“ Achieving Level Three shows just how far we’ve come. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed, not only to the Peer Assessment itself but to all of the excellent work that’s helped us to achieve Level Three.

We still have a long way to go to reach levels four and five, but we have some very strong plans in place to move forward and many dedicated people to make them happen. We can build on this success and make more improvements.” The peer reviewers final report (PDF 63 KB) confirms our strengths and gives us a focus to improve for the future.

If you are interested to find out more about the Equality Framework and our progress please contact Sandy Bannister, Equality and Diversity Manager on 01905 766225 or email Equality@worcestershire.gov.uk.