Disability Law Service is extremely disappointed at David Cameron’s announcement of the end of the use of Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) when devising Government policy.1
The aim of EIAs is not to prevent policies from being devised or introduced. It is to support policy makers by ensuring that they systematically consider the impact on different groups of people. Even if there is a greater impact on one group, the Government is not prevented from introducing a policy per se; rather they must consider that impact as part of the overall picture.
DLS feels that David Cameron’s comment that “smart people in Whitehall” are already thinking through equality issues when they devise the policy is particularly disappointing. No-one suggests EIAs are there because people in Whitehall are deliberately introducing policies that are discriminatory. Rather it is because the impact on different groups can be subtle and difficult to see without a systematic approach to thinking the impact through.
The shelving of Equality Impact Assessments taken in the context of government measures in the last 12 months represents a serious threat to the protection and enforcement of equality rights.
When the Equality Act 2010 came into force new concepts of discrimination and equality were introduced but have been shelved before they had seen the light of day, for example the socio-economic duty which would have required public authorities to have regard to equality when making strategic decisions.
Furthermore, imposing employment tribunal fees while cutting legal aid and the funding of advice agencies and limiting the key enforcement powers of the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) will result in far fewer instances of discrimination being challenged and without enforcement opportunities there are no rights at all.
Additionally The United Nations’ Convention on persons with Disabilities, article 4, requires the government to consider the effects of its policies and legislation upon those with disabilities. Does the end of the use of Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) suggest that David Cameron is pulling out of the United Nations Convention on Disabilities2?
DLS urges David Cameron to reconsider this position.
For futher comment please contact the DLS at email@example.com