Public sector duty assessment - the Department for Work and Pensions, through Jobcentre Plus
The Commission has completed its assessment of the extent to which the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), through Jobcentre Plus, is meeting the public sector equality duties in the development and implementation of its policies and practices. The report below contains our findings and recommendations.
Update: October 2011
In response to our assessment report and recommendations, Jobcentre Plus agreed an improvement plan with the Commission to address these recommendations and demonstrate improved compliance with the former duties on race, disability and gender. These were replaced by the new public sector equality duty, which came into force in April 2011.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provided the Commission with an interim report of progress against the improvement plan at six months, and a final report after 12 months. The Commission was satisfied with the reports it received and the commitments made by the DWP to ensure that the lessons learned from the report have been acted upon.
Jobcentre Plus is subject to the duties as it is part of the DWP which has overall legal responsibility for promoting equality and meeting the duties as a public authority and central government department.
This is one of the Commission's first statutory public sector duty assessments under section 31 of the Equality Act 2006. Assessments give the Commission the opportunity to assess and report formally on the extent to which a public authority is meeting its duties as well as the manner in which it is doing so.
The Commission aims to use this new power to assess public authorities' performance of the duties in an innovative and constructive way. This new tool allows us to identify areas of best practice in the performance of the duties, as well as areas for improvement. The Commission has a wide interest in understanding the role of departmental executive agencies in meeting the duties, given their substantial role in delivering public services and as an employer in their own right.
Our report on the DWP and Jobcentre Plus focuses on strengths and weaknesses rather than simply on whether or not the duties have been breached. The Commission believes this will assist Jobcentre Plus to alter its practices in order to achieve better compliance.