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Equality and Human Rights Commission “facing collapse”

CONCERNS: Brent MP Dawn Butler

THE EQUALITIES and Human Rights Commission, the body responsible for the promotion and enforcement and UK equality and non discrimination laws is on the brink of collapse following severe budget cuts.

According to figures from the House of Commons Library, a body that provides impartial research briefings and research services for MPs and their staff in support of their parliamentary duties, the EHRC’s budget has been cut by 70 per cent.

CUTS

It is expected that further budget cuts are in the pipeline.

The figures came to light after Brent MP Dawn Butler asked the House of Commons Library to verify claims that 70 per cent of EHRC funding had been removed since 2010.

The Library calculated that the EHRC’s comprehensive net expenditure has fallen from £55.06 million in 2009/10 to £19.99 million in 2015/16 – a headline reduction of 64 per cent.

However when adjusted for inflation, the Library concluded that this equated to around a 70 per cent reduction in the Commission’s budget since the Conservatives came to power.

Earlier this year, the government revealed plans to cut the EHRC budget with the loss of up to 30 staff.

The Government Equalities Office told Disability News Service that it was still “in the process of agreeing budgets” with the Commission, even though the new financial year had already begun

INEQUALITY

Butler, the Shadow Minister for Diverse Communities, said: “At a time when inequality and disadvantage are increasing we need the EHRC more than ever. The savage cuts mean it is facing collapse. They will put the clock back on equality and erode a decade of progress. These cuts are a worrying trend by this government in dismissing equality legislation that makes our country fairer.

She added: “With the increase in tribunal fees and the abolition of Equality Impact Assessments there seems to be no checks and balances when it comes to policy and budgets. The sheer enormity of these cuts will destroy the regulator responsible for enforcing equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation or transgender status.”

Sarah Champion MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women & Equalities, also expressed her concerns.

VALUES

She said: “I urge the Government to halt further cuts to the EHRC which are severely hindering its ability to effectively act as the UK’s human rights and equalities watchdog. The work of the EHRC is more important now than ever.”

Champion continued: “We must all hold steadfast to the core values and principles of our country, which protect the rights and freedoms of all who live, work and visit here.”

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