Government changes to equality laws set to spark debate

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David Cameron has announced plans to axe standard assessments used to measure how policies affect different social groups as part of a drive to get rid of the “bureaucratic rubbish” that gets in the way of British business.

In a speech to the CBI, the Prime Minister presented his intentions to get rid of pointless checks, consultations and reviews that he says hold up Government decision-making.

Outlining his plans to axe equality impact assessments, Cameron said:

“Take the Equality Act. It’s not a bad piece of legislation.

“But in government we have taken the letter of this law and gone way beyond it, with equality impact assessments for every decision we make.

“I care about making sure we treat people equally. But let’s have the courage to say it: caring about these things does not have to mean churning out reams of bureaucratic nonsense.

“We don’t need all this extra tick-box stuff. So I can tell you today we are calling time on equality impact assessments.

“You no longer have to do them if these issues have been properly considered.”

In response to the announcement, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

“The Prime Minister says he is committed to clamping down on discrimination in the workplace but at the same time is removing an essential measure for monitoring it.

“Equality impact assessments are not burdensome ‘red tape’. They have proved invaluable in highlighting how proposed legislation could affect women and vulnerable workers.

“In the transport sector the axing of this requirement would allow staffing levels at stations to be changed without any regard to the impact this would have on female passengers’ safety.”

Barber conlcuded:

“This move smacks of a desperate attempt to placate the business lobby, which like the TUC, is deeply concerned at our economy’s anaemic growth. But scrapping equality impact assessments would be reckless and is not the way to get our country moving again.”

The Prime Minster also promised to help businesses find the “bright, skilled workers” that employers are looking for.

Cameron said:

“We inherited a system where just 15% of pupils got good GCSEs in English, Maths, Science, a language and a humanity.

“This is crazy. Employers like you are crying out for these skills.

“And all this isn’t about looking back to the 1950s, it’s about looking forward to help our children compete in this world. We’ll do whatever it takes to help them do that and help you get the bright, skilled workers you need.”

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