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One in five local authorities failing BME communities by ignoring equality legislation

02 March 2012

Freedom of Information Act request attracts over 75 per cent response

The interim findings of a new campaign, which suggest that one in five local authorities is failing in its equality duty to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities when planning cuts, will be launched at the House of Commons on Monday 5 March 2012.

Led by The Afiya Trust, and supported by Carers UK, the Living in the Margins campaign’s provisional findings are based on the responses of 118 local authorities to a Freedom of Information Act request from November 2011 to February 2012. 

A key driver was to establish how many adult social services departments conducted Equality Impact Assessments as part of the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.

Despite a response rate of over 75 per cent, the preliminary findings indicate that one in five adult social services departments do not collect data on the funding allocated to BME voluntary and community sector organisations or conduct Equality Impact Assessments.

Patrick Vernon, The Afiya Trust’s Chief Executive, said:

“There is clear evidence that many local authorities are not delivering on their legal requirement as of part of the public sector equality duty to conduct Equality Impact Assessments when making funding cuts that affect BME communities. This comes at a time when BME communities are experiencing one of the largest increases in health inequalities and one of the largest reductions in social mobility since the 1940s. Yet, from our initial findings, they are bearing a significant brunt of the cuts.”

Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Equalities, who is supporting the campaign, said:

“This new interim research from The Afiya Trust shows a worrying picture of the real impact of spending cuts on social care services for people from BME communities. Some ethnic groups already suffer considerable health inequalities so cutting back on social care services they rely on, including culturally competent services and those delivered by grassroots BME groups, will make the situation worse. Local and national government need to urgently respond to the research findings.”

Richard West, who has learning disabilities and was a long term carer to his partner, added:

“It has always been a struggle to get the professional support for myself and for me as a carer. Now the little support I had has been taken away. The constant battle to get the right services led to a difficult home life and increased stress. As a result my partner is moving back into residential care. Left without any support I can’t manage my money, find it difficult to eat well or understand what my GP or diabetic nurse tells me. Without a preventative approach, we are leaving a larger problem for everyone in the future.”

A full report, based on the Freedom of Information Act request to all 153 local authorities, including a league table and case studies, will be published in the summer.

 

-ENDS-

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Afiya Trust (www.afiyatrust.org.uk) is a national charity that works to reduce inequalities in health and social care provision for people from racialised communities. The Afiya Trust generates, supports and maintains national and local networks concerned with the promotion of BME health and social care equality issues, including the National BME Mental Health Network. The charity produces research and disseminates information to the health, social care and BME health sectors, and also liaises with central government departments to ensure that BME issues are addressed at policy level. 


2. Living in the Margins is a six month social media influenced campaign, led by The Afiya Trust, to alleviate health and social care inequalities for black and minority ethnic (BME) families and community organisations in a climate of cuts.

3. The Living in the Margins campaign and ‘Interim report on the impact of local government social care budget cuts on BME communities’ will be launched on Monday 5th March 2012 in Committee Room 5, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA from 4pm to 5pm. For more information on the Living in the Margins campaign, visit http://www.livinginthemargins.org, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Twitter: @litm_campaign.

4. ‘Living in the Margins, was commissioned by The Afiya Trust and written by Leander Neckles to determine whether the public sector cuts are impacting disproportionately on BME communities and voluntary and community groups. The interim findings are based on the responses to four of the 12 questions fielded. The four questions relate primarily to the BME voluntary and community sector.


5. Under the Public Sector Equality Duty1 in the Equality Act 2010, all listed public bodies must give due regard to the elimination of discrimination, the advancement of equality and fostering good relations. Public bodies had a legal duty to conduct what are called Equality Impact Assessments until April 2011. Equality Impact Assessments were designed to assess the impact of policies, practices or other action or activities on the promotion of equality of opportunity2.  In April 2011, the new Public Sector Equality Duty replaced the old duties and was extended to cover six new areas of equality in addition to race, disability and gender equality. The Race Equality Duty was in force for 2010/11. The new Public Sector Equality Duty came into force in April 2011. In September 2011, the new specific equality duties came into force and require public bodies to publish information by 31st January 2012 and then annually to demonstrate that they are complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty. Like many other organisations, The Afiya Trust believes that Equality Impact Assessments remain an important tool for demonstrating that due regard is being paid to equality of opportunity as required by the Public Sector Equality Duty.

MEDIA CONTACT

To attend the launch, arrange media interviews, request pictures or for additional information, contact Joy Francis.

T: 020 7288 6255  

M: 0771 382 7372

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

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