by Marcial Boo
Published: 20 Jul 2022
Today the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published its annual report and accounts for 2021-22. It reports our many achievements over the past year and how we have spent public money to make Britain fairer.
During the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, we remained firm in our obligation to promote and enforce equality and human rights law across Britain. Our achievements include:
- £250,000 allocated to a landmark fund to tackle race discrimination and help victims seek justice. We have already supported eight cases, including a footballer, Rico Quitongo, taking action against his former club, Airdrieonians, for alleged race discrimination.
- An inquiry in decision-making in adult social care in England and Wales following reports of reduced care and needs not being met during the pandemic, with the report to be published later in 2022.
- A legally-binding agreement with Network Rail’s North West route after it failed to complete a Disability Impact Assessment and make reasonable adjustments for disabled users during a refurbishment.
- Making the new public operator of the ScotRail franchise subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty when it launched in April 2022, and getting the Scottish government to strengthen the new Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland.
- A legally-binding agreement with Pontins to prevent racial discrimination, after we became aware of an ‘undesirable guest list’ being used to exclude Gypsies and Travellers. We ended the agreement in February 2022 as we were not satisfied with the steps taken and have now launched a formal investigation to decide if Pontins have broken the law.
- A legal agreement with Jaguar Land Rover to improve its equality and diversity policies and practices after a gender reassignment case brought against it raised concerns about its existing policies.
- We intervened in an appeal against an Employment Tribunal decision relating to Maya Forstater who alleged that she had been discriminated against because of her belief. The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed that her belief is protected by the Equality Act, thereby providing important clarification that only the most extreme beliefs (such as Nazism) are not worthy of respect in a democratic society.
These are just some examples of the hugely impactful work we have carried out in all parts of the Commission, ranging from providing expert, authoritative advice to Parliament and Government as they debate equality and human rights issues, to issuing guidance, promoting good practice and taking legal action where we have concerns that equality law may have been broken. Much of this work happens below public radar. But rest assured that, whether we are making public statements or influencing behind the scenes, we are completely focused on enforcing Britain’s strong equality law, ensuring organisations uphold human rights standards, and working tirelessly to make Britain a fairer country to live and work.
Our work of the past year and its success fuels our commitment to making further progress in the year ahead. 2021-22 had many challenges for us too. We will make sure that we learn from how we tackled these, and continue to work collaboratively with our stakeholders in civil society, in government, in companies and elsewhere, to fulfil our statutory remit as effectively as possible in the coming year.
The EHRC is Britain’s equality regulator, enforcing the law so that we all live in a society that is fair, and where we are not discriminated against or prejudiced because of our age, disability, gender, marital or parental status, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. We will continue to hold ourselves to the highest standards too, act with independence, authority and integrity to foster good relations between individuals and groups across Britain.