Shropshire Council is required to publish an Equality Objectives Action Plan at a minimum of four yearly intervals, in order to demonstrate continuing compliance with its Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). This Duty set out in the Equality Act 2010. There have been two such Plans produced to date, with the third one, covering the period 2020 to 2024, approved by Cabinet on 6 July 2020.
The requirement provides an opportunity to not only set out our proposed actions for the next four year period, but also reflect upon progress made over the course of the four year period 2016 to 2020, in terms of equality, diversity and social inclusion.
Progress against these previously agreed actions was presented in a separate document and is available via these pages, along with the Action Plan for 2020 to 2024.
Over the course of the four year period 2016 to 2020, progress was charted using three strands of activity:
- Publish equality and diversity information more visibly;
- Collect and analyse equality and diversity data more proactively;
- Work jointly with partner organisations on equality-related issues.
It is the policy intention to continue to work at weaving together a number of actions across these three main activity strands.
Emphasis placed by the Council upon such actions, and visible commitment shown by the Council in so doing, aids the Council to meet its general equality duty under the PSED. This may be described as the duty on a public authority, when carrying out its functions, to have what is called due regard to three national equality aims.
The national equality aims are:
- Eliminating discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
- Advancing equality of opportunity;
- Fostering good relations.
Publication of the approved Equality Objectives Action Plan 2020 to 2024 will enable up to date positioning of the Council to assist in efforts to meet its PSED, seek to demonstrate and develop good practice in so doing, and facilitate timely links with other local and national policy and strategy development in the arena of equality, diversity, and social inclusion.
By way of illustration, national evidence to date with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic has identified a disproportionate impact for groupings including Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) communities, faith communities, younger people, older people, people with disabilities, and those for whom there is a gendered economic impact. These groupings all fall within the Protected Characteristic groupings under the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Objectives Action Plan accordingly includes actions for joint work to identify and seek to address the inequalities emerging to date across a range of groupings and communities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This should then facilitate tie in with national actions in response to a range of groupings affected, as well as to the recommendations made in the Public Health England report “Beyond the data; understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups”; PHE, June 2020
Publication also assists us to further collaborate with communities and partners at a local level, with stakeholders at a local and sub-regional level, and with Government at a national level, in order to maximise the opportunities to meet the three national equality aims.