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Equality Framework

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:
  • Simpler.
  • Smarter.
  • Proportional and relevant.
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:
  • 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 needs.

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 service priorities.
  • 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 targets.
  • 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 equality strands.
  • 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 mitigated.
  • 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 outcomes.
  • 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 and employment.
  • It identifies the changing nature of its communities and their expectations and then prioritises its activities and explains its decisions.
  • 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 programmes.
  • 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 the gaps.
  • 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 challenges.
  • 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 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.

Further Information

In this section

More Information

See also in our website

External websites

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission
    Works to eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality, protect human rights and to build good relations, ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to participate in society.
  • Plain English
    A website of an organisation who have been fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979.
  • Worcestershire Racial Equality Council (WREC)
    The WREC assists people who believe they have been discriminated against, or who experience difficulty in using mainstream services because of language and cultural differences.
  • BBC Interfaith Calendar
    Interfaith holy days and festivals Calendar.

We are not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more

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This page was last reviewed 29 May 2013 at 15:01.
The page is next due for review 25 November 2014.