Government Review of the Public Sector Equality Duty
The Public Sector Equality Duty (‘PSED’) – in s149 Equality Act 2010 – requires all public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. This general duty replaced specific positive duties imposed in connection with race, gender and disability. The government is currently conducting a review of the effectiveness of this duty, despite it having been in force for a very short period of time.
JUSTICE raises a number of concerns about the government review, including that it is premature and limited in its scope. We urge the review team to consult more widely, particularly in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The general duty applies across the UK and any evidence-based review must incorporate the experiences of service users and legal practitioners in the devolved administrations. There is concern that the review is being used to gather evidence that the duty is little understood by public authorities; that it imposes an unnecessary burden on decision makers and produces little tangible impact on inequality. JUSTICE highlights the importance of the legal framework established around the PSED both in terms of clear guidance to public authorities on the promotion of equality and in giving individuals a route by which to enforce good practice and secure a remedy when decision makers get it wrong
JUSTICE is grateful to Catherine Casserley, Claire McCann and Declan O’Dempsey of Cloisters Chambers for their assistance in the preparation of our response.