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Agenda Item No

 

Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 10 March, 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Annual Equality Monitoring Report

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek approval of the Annual Equality Monitoring Report (Appendix A, a copy of which is provided on the Council's website and in the Members room). 

Recommendations

2.         That the Annual Equality Monitoring Report for 2012 / 2013 is approved for publication.

Reasons for the Recommendations

3.         So that progress towards meeting the public sector equality duty and the specific duties for Wales can be published and is available for scrutiny by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.    

Background

4.         The Equality Act 2010 includes a public sector equality duty (the 'general duty') as well as specific duties for Wales.  The specific duties include the requirement to publish an annual report by 31 March each year.  The annual report must set out:

·           the steps the council has taken to identify and collect relevant information;

·           how the council has used this information in meeting the three aims of the general duty;

·           any reasons for not collecting relevant information;

·           a statement on the effectiveness of the council's arrangements for identifying and collecting relevant information;

·           progress towards fulfilling each of the council's equality objectives;

·           a statement on the effectiveness of the steps that the council has taken to fulfil each of its equality objectives;

·           specified employment information, including information on training and pay (unless it has already published this information elsewhere).

The council may include in its annual reports any other matter it feels is relevant to meeting the general duty and specific duties.

5.         The council is required to produce and publish a report on progress with equality issues annually by 31 March. 

Relevant Issues and Option

Progress since the last report

 

6.         We are monitoring the protected characteristics of more services than we have previously.  We include information on an additional three services in the annual report - registration, council tax and social services.  We intend to continue to work with the services that are gathering data to improve what they are doing and to add additional services as others begin to survey users.

7.         Some services have been able to use data gathered to improve services or target support.  An example of this is the use of survey data to work out who would be affected by welfare reform and putting in place additional support and funds to help with shortfalls. 

Areas to address

8.         The extent to which data is analysed and used to improve services is variable.  This is for a variety of reasons including systems that do not support the analysis of information, gaps in staff knowledge, reluctance of service users to complete more forms and concern that a survey of users may not reflect a true picture.  We intend to arrange training to help people understand how to better analyse and use data.

9.         Progress has been made with equality objectives as described in the bullet points below.

·           We are doing more to collect data and monitor access to services as described above.  We have a corporate form so that there is a more consistent approach to gathering information and it is line with Welsh government guidance.  We collected information from staff during the summer of 2013 and this will be analysed. 

·           To improve access to public documents, we are reviewing the guidance we have and plan to promote its use.  In the meantime, we have produced some public documents in plain and simple language, such as the annual equality monitoring report itself.

·           We have been raising awareness of equality responsibilities and the needs of protected groups.  We are doing this through a training programme that includes short equality training sessions and e-learning modules.  We are monitoring who has participated so that we can liaise with managers to ensure that as many staff as possible have received at least basic awareness raising training.  We are also beginning the process of raising public awareness through posters, social media and participation in other appropriate events or campaigns.

·           To involve a diverse range of people in policy and service development, we have produced new guidance on engagement to ensure we have feedback that will help us understand the impact of our work.

·           To encourage more reporting of harassment and discrimination, we have reviewed our hate crime helpline and have provided training on hate crime.  We are planning on re-launching our hate crime helpline.

·           To increase awareness and confidence in using domestic abuse support services, we have maintained a strong relationship with Atal y Fro, the only provider of such a service in the Vale of Glamorgan.  We help to promote the service through our Safer Vale.  We have produced a domestic workplace policy and trained managers on this policy.

·           We have included actions to address the gender pay gap in our workforce plan and agreed with the unions to look at this issue in more detail.  We also have a job evaluation scheme in place.  

10.      Other highlights include:

·           renewal of the Two-ticks scheme;

·           deaf awareness and British Sign Language training;

·           Show Racism the Red Card workshops and the Race Equality First schools' calendar competition;

·           a new anti-discrimination service based in Barry rather than Cardiff;

·           a number of projects to assist people with autism, including an employment scheme;

·           taking the lead on the orange wallet scheme;

·           receiving the Ribbon award for providing inclusive sports opportunities;

·           adding 'Browse Aloud' to our website to improve access; and

·           assessing the impact of budget cuts on protected groups.

11.      Equality is gaining a higher profile as we progress the Strategic Equality Plan and work to ensure that we carry out equality impact assessments of the budget cuts.

12.      The council does not have comprehensive information on all the areas that it must report on but the report explains what we are doing to address this. 

13.      Schools are listed public authorities under the Public Sector Equality Duty specific duties in Wales.  As such, they are responsible for producing their own annual equality monitoring reports.  They have received guidance from the School Improvement Service and the Welsh Local Government Association.

14.      Systems and processes are being developed and implemented so that the council is in a better position to collect and analyse employment and equality information in the future.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

15.      Officer time is needed to collect, analyse and report on equality and employment information on a regular basis.  The benefit is a better understanding of how to target resources to deliver services which best meet the needs of users.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

16.      The equality duty contributes to the sustainable development principle of ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

17.      The Equality Act 2010 created a public sector duty, replacing the race, disability and gender equality duties. The duty came into force in April 2011. The duty covers age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. Under the general duty, public sector organisations must have due regard to the need to:

·           eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation;

·           advance equality of opportunity between different groups;

·           foster good relations between different groups.

18.      The duty to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination also covers marriage and civil partnership.

19.      The Equality Act gives Welsh Ministers the power to impose specific duties through regulations. The specific duties are legal requirements designed to help public bodies meet the general duty. These were published in April 2011. 

20.      The Equality and Human Rights Commission published guidance on the public sector equality duty for Wales on 8 June 2011.  It performs a regulatory role to ensure that listed bodies comply with the duty.  If the Equality and Human Rights Commission believes that the Council has not complied with a public sector equality duty, it has the power to seek compliance.

Crime and Disorder Implications

21.      The work reported upon in the Annual Equality Monitoring Report will assist in promoting community cohesion by meeting the diverse needs of local people and improving equality of opportunity.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

22.      The Annual Equality Monitoring Report sets out how the council has been working to meet the general duty and public sector equality duty for Wales. 

23.      The council is required to collect, use and publish equality and employment information to help understand how its policies, practices and decisions affect individuals who share one or more of the protected characteristics.  This process is essential if the council is to comply with the requirements of the public sector specific equality duties in Wales. The information is required to accurately inform the equality impact assessment process, the Strategic Equality Plan and equality objectives.

Corporate/Service Objectives

24.      It is a corporate priority, included in the draft Corporate Plan 2013 - 2017, to work with partners to promote good governance and ensure a coordinated approach to delivering the shared vision for the future of the Vale.  This plan and its objectives support each of the three associated improvement objectives:

·           to tackle those issues that matter most to local people, with customer focus at the heart of the council’s service delivery;

·           to provide leadership in representing and promoting the interests of the local community and engage effectively with citizens and stakeholders;

·           to promote through partnership working greater cooperation with other organisations that deliver services in the Vale, thereby improving the quality of life of its citizens.

25.      It is also a corporate priority to manage the council’s workforce, money, information and assets efficiently, effectively and securely.  This proposal supports each of the associated improvement objectives:

·           to provide effective corporate management and to improve the use of resources in meeting our strategic objectives;

·           to manage, support and develop our employees to enable them to deliver and maintain the council’s services to the highest possible standard;

·           to make best use of our assets and to procure good, sustainable services and facilities.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.      Not applicable.   

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Equality and Human Rights Commission Guidance: Annual reporting, publishing and Ministerial duties: A guide for listed public authorities in Wales

 

Stonewall's 'What's it got to do with you?' leaflet.

 

Welsh Government '2012 - Collecting Equality Data and Harmonised Standards Best Practice' guidance.

 

Equality and Human Rights Commission's Technical Guidance on the Public Sector Equality Duty Wales

 

Contact Officer

Nicola Hinton, Corporate Equalities Officer

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Corporate Policy and Communications

Head of Performance and Development

Head of Human Resources

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director

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