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Government to get rid of equality impact assessments

CONCERNS ARE being raised about plans by the government to axe equality impact assessments, which are often used to determine how legislation and policies affect different groups including ethnic minorities.

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference earlier today (Nov 19) in central London, Prime Minister David Cameron said the government was scrapping assessments and three month public consultations on future government policy proposals. He claimed such "bureaucratic nonsense" is not necessary to ensure that officials uphold the rights of different races, genders and faiths.

Cameron, who also plans to cut back on judicial reviews, used by many to get justice, told attendees: "Take the Equality Act. It's not a bad piece of legislation.

"But in government we have taken the letter of this law and gone way beyond it, with equality impact assessments for every decision we make."

Cameron said he cared about "making sure we treat people equally. But let's have the courage to say it: caring about these things does not have to mean churning out reams of bureaucratic nonsense."

PLANS: Prime Minister David Cameron at the CBI Conference. Pic:PA

He said: "We don't need all this extra tick-box stuff."

The prime minister continued: "So I can tell you today we are calling time on equality impact assessments. You no longer have to do them if these issues have been properly considered."

But a stream of criticism has come for Cameron with some critics calling today a bad day for equality and for groups vulnerable to discrimination.

On Twitter, one user wrote: "Tell that to the deaf children whose services are protected because of it" while another, @Janey_uk asked, "How will he ensure equality faster, better, etc?! (Sic)".

Others said many people have already lost out because some agencies are already deciding not to do assessments.

Unions have also reacted strongly, with umbrella group, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Brendan Barber, stating: “The Prime Minister says he is committed to clamping down on discrimination in the workplace but at the same time is removing an essential measure for monitoring it.

“Equality impact assessments are not burdensome ‘red tape’. They have proved invaluable in highlighting how proposed legislation could affect women and vulnerable workers.

“In the transport sector the axing of this requirement would allow staffing levels at stations to be changed without any regard to the impact this would have on female passengers’ safety.

“This move smacks of a desperate attempt to placate the business lobby, which like the TUC, is deeply concerned at our economy’s anaemic growth. But scrapping equality impact assessments would be reckless and is not the way to get our country moving again.”

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