our clear commitment to equality and diversity
We believe that everyone should have fair and equal access to our services.
Contents Our vision for equality
What is the Equality Scheme?
How are we doing?
What happens next?
How will we progress to the next level of the Equality Standard?
Putting our plan into action
Reviewing and monitoring our progress
Responding to customer complaints
Our vision for equality South Ribble Borough Council has a clear commitment to equality and diversity. We believe that everyone should have fair and equal access to our services. The council serves a diverse borough so getting our services right for all of our residents is important. When we deliver services we must ensure that we do not discriminate in a way that is unfair, illegal or unjustified. Getting this right can mean that we need to tailor our services to ensure that everyone can access them â€“ providing assisted waste and recycling collections for residents who cannot move their bins is an example of how we are doing this. But we recognise that we must do more to challenge and address inequality. We think we can do this by listening and working with all sections of the community. We must be prepared to engage people, especially hard to reach groups, in a way which encourages greater participation and dialogue in the decision making process. We can then change what needs to be changed. A great deal of work is already being done and significant progress has been made, but there is much more to do. Our skills and experience will be crucial to this effort, so itâ€™s important that we promote the same commitment to equality when recruiting, training and retaining our employees and councillors. The Equality Scheme and wider diversity agenda is quite clearly a difficult challenge, but it is one that we are happy to accept if we are to be successful in providing equal opportunities to every community in South Ribble.
What is the Equality Scheme? South Ribble Borough Council is committed to ensuring that it provides services and employment opportunities that are accessible to all. The Corporate Equality Scheme is the councilâ€™s principal planning document for meeting equality-related issues in service delivery and employment. The Scheme focuses specifically on race, gender, disability, age, religion and sexual orientation. There are specific legal requirements in relation to equality. The council has general and specific duties under the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and The Equality Act 2006 to promote equality in relation to race, disability and gender. The council has a legal duty to: Race a. Eliminate unlawful racial discrimination b. Promote equality of opportunity c. Promote good relations between persons of different groups Disability a. Eliminate unlawful discrimination b. Promote equal opportunities c. Eliminate disability related harassment d. Promote positive attitudes towards disabled people e. Encourage participation by disabled persons in public life f. Take steps to take account of disabilities, even where that involves treating disabled people more favourably than others Gender a. To eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment b. To promote equality of opportunity between men and women Religion, Age and Sexual Orientation Although there are no specific legal requirements to promote equality in relation to religion, age and sexual orientation, the council has decided to include them within the remit of this Scheme. To this end the council is committed to: a. Eliminating unlawful discrimination on the grounds of religion, age and sexual orientation b. Promoting equality of opportunity on the grounds of religion, age and sexual orientation c. Promoting positive attitudes towards people in relation to their religion, age and sexual orientation The Scheme will explain how we will fulfil our statutory legal obligations under the equality legislation. The full document including more detailed information is available at www.southribble.gov.uk
How are we doing? What is the Equality Standard? In October 2001 the Employers Association published common standards for equality in Local Government. The Equality Standard encourages councils to take a comprehensive approach to dealing with equality issues across every department and service. Local authorities use the Standard to assess their progress on equality against five levels, which are illustrated in the table below. We have now achieved Level 2 of the Equality Standard for Local Government. This means we have the right systems in place to assess equality-related issues. For example, we have engaged in an equality action planning process for employment, pay and service delivery.
The Equality Standard for Local Government Level 1
Commitment to a comprehensive equality policy
Level 2 Assessment and consultation Level 3
Setting equality objectives and targets
Information systems and monitoring against targets
Achieving and reviewing outcomes
What happens next? The next step is to make the necessary changes to the way we plan and deliver services so that we can progress to Level 3 by March 2008. In the future, we want to progress even further to Level 4 and 5. But first, in order to achieve Level 3 of the Standard we will need to set equality objectives and targets. This means we will need to demonstrate the following, • We have completed a full and systematic consultation process with community, staff and stakeholder groups • We have set equality objectives for employment, pay and service delivery based on impact and needs/requirements assessment and consultation • Equality objectives have been translated into action plans with specific targets • We are developing information and monitoring systems that allow us to assess progress in achieving targets • Action on achieving targets has started
How will we progress to the next level of the Equality Standard? Equality Impact Assessments The council carries out Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs). This is a way of systematically and thoroughly assessing the effects of a proposed policy or project on different groups within the borough. An Equality Impact Assessment will enable the council to: Take account of the needs, circumstances, and experiences of those who intend to benefit from a policy or project Identify actual and potential inequalities in outcomes Consider other ways of achieving the aims of policies and projects Increase stakeholder confidence in the fairness of policies and projects Develop better policies and projects
The Councilâ€™s Equality Targets The councilâ€™s workforce should be representative of the community it serves. To work towards achieving this objective, the council has set the following targets for 2008/09 in respect of equality in employment. 2007/08 Target
Disabled people as a % of the workforce
Top 5% of earners that have a disability
Women in senior posts
Percentage of racial, gender or disability incidents that result in further action
Group Ethnic minorities as a % of the workforce Top 5% of earners that are from ethnic minorities
These targets are aspirational and will not be used as measure of performance. Each appointment is always made on merit and the council does not practice any form of affirmative action with regard to recruitment.
Putting our plan into action
The Corporate Equality Action Plan The Equality Scheme sets out a number of Corporate Equality Objectives which must be achieved across the council. These are, • Consulting and engaging with the community • Communicating our work • Training and developing our employees and councillors • Peformance Management The Corporate Equality Objectives apply to every section of the council. This means that both employees and members of the public will experience the same level of service whenever or wherever they are dealing with the council. The Corporate Equality Action plan seeks to link equality objectives to the Corporate Plan and new priorities arising from legislation and national policy.
1. Consulting and involving the public in the decision making process The council believes that it is imperative to consult and involve communities in the decisions that affect them. This is why the council’s engagement with local people, especially hard to reach groups and grass-roots organisations, has been so important. The council will continue to develop this work and build on past achievements such as, • Working with younger people and older people to seek their views on improving their quality of life. The findings from ‘U and the Q’ - A review of the quality of life for young people in South Ribble and the South Ribble Older People’s Action Plan have been incorporated into this Equality Scheme. • Producing a ‘Guide to Consulting with Hard to Reach Groups’. This guidance was reviewed and updated in 2006 to reflect the new equality legislation. • Helping to produce a guide to services, specifically designed to meet the needs of migrant workers, in conjunction with our partners on the South Ribble Partnership.
2. Communicating our work We will keep employees, councillors and members of the public informed about the council’s plans and activities. There is a requirement under the Codes of Practice for employees to be kept informed on the Council’s plans and activities in relation to this work.
In achieving this objective the council will continue to, • Hold regular briefings and training sessions for staff and councillors on equality matters. The council is using best practice to embed equality-related issues across the council. • Review the provision of all Service Literature to ensure that all employees and members of the Public are aware that literature is available in different languages and formats. Details of the council’s progress in respect of equality will be published in the council’s Best Value Performance Plan, in our community newspaper ‘Forward’, in the local media and on the council’s website.
3. Training and Development In achieving this objective the council will continue to develop and implement training and development programmes which meet the needs of councillors and employees on, • Equality Awareness Training • Training for senior managers on their responsibilities under current legislation • Equal opportunities in recruitment and selection • Equality Impact Assessment Training
4. Performance Management In achieving this objective we will. • Monitor and review the implementation of the council’s Equality Scheme and Equality, Diversity & Community Cohesion Action Plan, including reports to Cabinet and the relevent Overview and Scrutiny Committees with amended actions, if appropriate. • Introduce equality objectives for all members of staff.
Reviewing and monitoring progress The Equality Scheme will be reviewed in the light of new policies, revised legislation, experience and any evidence of unfair or potential for unfair discrimination coming to light that had not been initially identified. Actions in the councilâ€™s Equality, Diversity and Community Cohesion Strategy are included in the relevant Service Plans and progress against them will be monitored in accordance with the councilâ€™s Performance Management Framework.
Responding to customer complaints The council has a formal Complaints Procedure for dealing with complaints made by members of the public. The council will, as part of the procedure, collect data on complaints, analysed by equality target groups of those complaining and the nature of the complaint. Complaints concerning equality and diversity related issues raised by employees will be dealt with through the councilâ€™s grievance and harassment procedures. The method used to resolve a specific complaint will be determined by the nature of the complaint. This Scheme can be made available in large print, Braille and other languages. Requests for other formats, comments or complaints about the Equality Scheme should be addressed to: Policy and Performance South Ribble Borough Council Civic Centre West Paddock Leyland PR25 1DH Tel: 01772 625546 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Text: 07776 176981
our clear commitment to equality and diversity
This leaflet can be made available in large print, Braille and other languages on request.