The Equality Framework for Local Government
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 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
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:
- Proportional and relevant.
- Equality is an issue for us all.
- We don't all start from the same place.
- To create a fairer society we need to recognise different
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:
- Councillors and officers take direct and personal
responsibility for promoting greater equality and test themselves
on progress by the outcomes they achieve.
- It has undertaken equality mapping and has a good understanding
of its communities, including the extent of inequality and
disadvantage. It has used the information to inform corporate and
- It has set stretching equality priorities in consultation with
partners in the public, voluntary and community sectors and
these are reflected in its sustainable community and other relevant
strategies, local and multi-area agreements, and local
- It works with partners in the public, voluntary and
community sectors to develop joint equality strategies.
- It uses equality impact assessments (EqIAs) to review all major
corporate and service changes in policy and regularly conducts
service and employment EqIAs.
- It has set appropriate corporate and service and or unit
objectives to address persistent inequalities and to narrow the gap
related to race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age,
religion and or belief, or other areas of inequality for service
delivery based on impact assessments and consultation with internal
and external stakeholders and partners.
- It has set appropriate corporate and service and or unit
employment and pay-related objectives for race, gender, disability
and age, religion and or belief and sexual orientation.
- Equality objectives are integrated into the local authority’s
business and service planning processes.
- All relevant data on service access is monitored against the
- There are good practices of delivery in all the sections of the
council, with few adverse impacts found in impact assessments.
Where adverse impacts have been found these have been
- Key stakeholders and community members, including those who are
vulnerable and marginalised, are able to scrutinise and challenge
performance on equalities issues.
- It has developed information and monitoring systems that allow
it to disaggregate data where appropriate and to assess progress in
achieving objectives and targets. It reviews them in the light of
changing needs, when necessary.
An excellent authority has the following characteristics:
- Councillors and officers have a reputation for championing
equality issues and ensure that the equality issues relevant to
their communities are embedded in their sustainable community
strategy, strategic plans, local area agreements (LAAs) and
local delivery plans.
- It works with all strategic partners and the voluntary and
community sector, acting as an advocate to achieve defined equality
- It has good evidence of the equalities profile of the community
based on national and local data that is regularly reviewed.
- It is measuring progress on equality outcomes, is able to
disaggregate data on relevant performance indicators and can
demonstrate real outcomes that have improved equality in services
- It identifies the changing nature of its communities and their
expectations and then prioritises its activities and explains its
- It provides good customer care by ensuring that services are
provided by knowledgeable and well-trained staff who understand the
needs of their communities.
- It has improving satisfaction and perception indicators from
all sections of the community and staff.
- Equality groups are integrally involved in community engagement
- There are forums for all equality stakeholder to share
experiences and evaluate the authority’s progress.
- All parts of the authority can show tangible progress towards
achieving outcomes which address persistent inequalities and narrow
- It has implemented action for equal pay outcomes and
demonstrates progress on under-representation, flexible working,
access to training and development. It promotes an inclusive
working culture based on respect.
- It reviews its equality strategy and public duty equality
schemes every three years and seeks innovative improvement
- Through its achievements, it is an exemplar of good practice
for other local authorities and agencies and works with others to
share best practice.
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
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.