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Agenda Item No

 

Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 9 February, 2015

Report of the Leader

Annual Equality Monitoring Report

Purpose of the Report

1. To seek approval of the Annual Equality Monitoring Report (Appendix A). 

Recommendations

1. That the Annual Equality Monitoring Report for 2013 - 14 is approved for publication.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. 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 and others.   

Background

2. 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).

 

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

 

4. 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 

5. We are monitoring the protected characteristics of more services than we have previously.   We include information on complaints in this report for the first time.  There is also more detail provided by some of the services than in previous years.  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.

 

6. Some services have been able to use data gathered to improve services or target support.  An example of this is the use of housing data to inform the Local Commissioning Plan.  The information is used to think about how people use services, what they need and the most appropriate way of obtaining this. 

 

7. There is an established reporting system for employment data.  There is also an action plan which commits to making improvements to this system so that we can report more comprehensively in the future.  For example, we plan to report on applications by staff for new jobs within the Council and applications for training.  There are areas that we are required to report on.

 

8. We arranged training to help people understand how to better analyse and use data.  The Data Unit provided this training in June 2014.  We targeted those services already collecting data do that they could build on what they have achieved so far.  

Areas to address

9. The extent to which data is analysed and used to improve services continues to be 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. 

 

10. 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 has been used in the analysis of employment information. 

• To improve access to public documents, we have reviewed 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 running an ongoing training programme for staff, tailored where necessary to the needs of particular teams.  This is supplemented by the availability of 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 provided staff training to raise awareness of the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as deaf awareness training.  We also raise public awareness through a notice board in the Civic Office reception area, use of social media and participation in other appropriate events or campaigns.  This work continues.  

• 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. We will need to monitor the effectiveness of this.

• To encourage more reporting of harassment and discrimination, we have re-launched our hate crime helpline.  We are using Victim Support's helpline number.  The Welsh Government has funded Victim Support to provide a hate crime service across Wales.  It will provide us with information on hate crime incidents and crimes in our local authority area.  We have worked with Race Equality First to design a poster to raise awareness of the helpline and encourage people to report hate crime.  We have distributed these posters widely with the assistance of Race Equality First.  We continue with this work.

• 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 Safer Vale.  We have produced a domestic workplace policy and trained managers on this policy.  We continue with this work.

• 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.  The employment information section of the report shows that the gender pay gap is less than it was in 2011.  We will continue to monitor this.

 

11. Highlights for 2013 - 14 include:

• opening an extra care scheme for older people;

• launching a new website by the Vale 50+ Forum;

• signing the Dublin Declaration for Age Friendly Communities;

• training dementia champions;

• training digital champions;

• working with adults with dementia and looked after children through the 'Being Creatively Active' arts project;

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

• projects to assist people with autism, including swimming lessons for young people and a pilot project to develop job skills; and

• work towards the bronze level of the Ribbon Insport Award -  we have already been accredited for providing inclusive sports opportunities.

 

12. Equality maintains a high profile as we progress the Strategic Equality Plan and work to ensure that we carry out equality impact assessments of the budget cuts and the 'reshaping services' agenda.

 

13. 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. 

 

14. 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.

 

15. 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)

16. 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

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

18. 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.

 

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

 

20. 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. 

 

21. 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

22. 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)

23. 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. 

 

24. 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

25. 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.

 

26. 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

27. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

28. Not applicable.  

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29. 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

Head of Performance and Development

Corporate Management Team 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director

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