Commission publishes 2012-15 Strategic plan

27 March 2012

The Commission today publishes its strategic plan for 2012 to 2015. The plan identifies how the Commission can add most value to the protection and promotion of equality and human rights through the effective use of its unique powers and its duties as the National Human Rights Institution.

The strategic plan was drawn up as the Commission faces a period of tremendous change and development. Like other public bodies, its resources are being reduced – with its budget due to fall very sharply by 2015. Much of this reduction will be accommodated in a significant change programme to be delivered in the first year of this strategic plan. This will result in staff numbers being reduced from 420 to between 150 and 180.

The UK Government carried out a consultation on the Commission’s powers and duties in 2011 the results of which are yet to be made public. The government has already decided to bring some of the frontline services the Commission provided in its first four years inside the Government Equalities Office in the Home Office. These include the helpline and grants programmes.

The Commission will refocus its activities from direct services to a more enabling role: using its expertise and influence to support the development of policies and services that promote equality of opportunity and safeguard fundamental human rights.

To maximise its value to the public, the Commission is committed to working better with others to avoid duplication and join forces wherever it can. There is a range of regulatory bodies with powers in their own sectors, whose influence could encourage change and improvement. The Commission will work with these bodies to help them fulfill their own obligations and achieve shared goals. This collaborative approach will cut out duplication, provide certainty for those being regulated, and build confidence and credibility in the regulatory system as a whole.

The Commission’s 2012/15 strategic plan is the result of widespread consultation with partners, stakeholders and the public. It identifies three strategic priorities for the country which were identified from the research carried out for its ‘How fair is Britain?’ reviews. These are:

  • To promote fairness and equality of opportunity in Britain’s future economy
    The Commission will be proportionate in dealing with the business sector, ensuring that equality and human rights are understood as key enablers of the economic recovery, rather than being seen as unnecessary ‘red tape’. At the same time, it will work to ensure that in a period of economic constraint, progress on issues like the pay gap, occupational segregation, board diversity and workplace discrimination does not stall. The Commission will encourage small and medium sized enterprises in particular to increase opportunities for employment for those who are protected by the equality acts.
  • To promote fair access to public services, and autonomy and dignity in service delivery
    The Commission’s contribution will be to ensure that fairness, dignity and respect are at the heart of designing and delivering effective public services, particularly as the private and voluntary sectors play a bigger role. Harnessing the power of transparency, the Commission will identify the best ways of delivering more personal, better value services to those that need them most; promote good practice; and help local people across Britain hold service providers to account.
  • To promote dignity and respect, and safeguard people’s safety
    The Commission’s contribution will be to ensure human rights provide a framework to shape how the state relates to its citizens, and when it justifiably constrains our fundamental rights and freedoms. The Commission will press for greater recognition of the positive duties on public bodies to prevent harm, as well as avoid inflicting it themselves.

Mark Hammond, Chief Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

'The Commission is working towards a Britain where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and we all have an equal chance to succeed. To help achieve this aim, we will focus on the role we can play in protecting and promoting equality and human rights as the economy recovers, and we see major changes to public services.

'We look forward to working with business, the public sector and all our partners to deliver on these aims. Our Strategic Plan sets out a clear and robust sense of direction so that the public, our partners and our staff know what to expect from us and hold us to account for the value we deliver.'

Ends

For more press information, case studies or interview requests contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818. For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.

Notes to editors

A copy of the Commission’s Strategic Plan can be found at: www.equalityhumanrights.com/strategicplan

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.