The Government has published a new policy review paper aimed at simplifying the public sector equality duty.

In a written ministerial statement, Home Secretary, Theresa May, wrote:

“We have considered the draft regulations further in the light of our policy objective of ensuring that public bodies consider equality when carrying out their functions without imposing unnecessary burdens and bureaucracy.

“As a result, we think there is room to do more to strip out unnecessary process requirements. Today we are publishing a policy review paper seeking views on new draft specific duties regulations. Our proposals are designed to deliver a clear focus on transparency, freeing up public bodies to take responsibility for their own performance in delivering equality improvements and to publish the right information so that the public can hold them to account. This approach will be better for equality because it will focus on the delivery of results, not the performance of bureaucratic processes.”

The new general Equality Duty will come into force on 5 April. For the period from 5 April until the new specific duties are in place, public bodies will still need to comply with the general Equality Duty.

TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, commented on the news:

“We welcome confirmation that the new public sector equality duty will be implemented from 5 April this year.

“But it is frustrating to hear that the Regulations setting out what public bodies need to do to comply with it are being reviewed, consulted on and rewritten again at such short notice.

“Organisations like the EHRC had already published guidance to help public bodies prepare for the new duty and much of this cannot now be relied upon and will have to be revised.

“As well as wasting public money, such last minute changes create significant uncertainty for those trying to implement and enforce the duty.”