A study carried out by researchers at the University of Brighton challenges the assumption that good progress is being made on equalities.
Between 2014 and 2016 only 10 percent of local authorities in England were found to have improved in their compliance with the specific duties of the Equality Act 2010 and associated government guidance, whilst 40 percent had declined. Over half of local authorities were failing to demonstrate compliance in 2016.
The study was carried out as part of the Liveable Lives project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which explores what makes life ‘liveable’ for LGBTQ people.
The study’s findings also show that between 2014 and 2016, whilst there was an increase in the number of councils providing information on same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, there was a decrease in the number fulfilling the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. One third of those councils fully promoting same-sex marriage were found to be doing either no, or very little, LGBT equality work.
Overall, the research found that by August 2016 of the 353 local authorities in England:
♦ 42 percent (150 councils) demonstrated compliance, although around one-third of these had missed a key statutory deadline for publishing information and are therefore not fully compliant
♦ 4 percent (15 councils) were demonstrating weak compliance (defined as doing the ‘bare minimum’ in their Equality Objectives)
♦ 50 percent (178 councils) were not demonstrating observance
♦ 3 percent (10 councils) were displaying complete lack of awareness of the legislation
Other key findings include:
♦ Only 20 councils (6 percent of the total) had Equality Objectives specifically aimed at LGBT people in 2014/15
♦ Only one council had set an Equality Objective specifically with regard to trans people
♦ In relation to the duty to publish information relating to employees and LGBT equalities, there was a decrease in the monitoring of LGBT council employees between 2014 and 2016
Professor Kath Browne, Principal Investigator for the research project, said: “It is clear that there are issues with local authorities’ compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and it is a cause for concern that compliance with this legislation appears to have declined.
“Whilst some local authorities noted that austerity has been a contributory factor, with budget cuts having an impact on equalities work, others seem to be more focused on justifying what they are not required to do under the legislation. Despite this, 10 percent of local councils were able to be more compliant.
“Many local authorities are doing good work in relation to LGBT equality – including, ironically, some who do not demonstrate observance with the legislation. But it is clear that those councils who do demonstrate compliance are doing more meaningful things.
“It is particularly interesting to see that more local authorities promote same-sex marriage – even though there is no legal obligation to do so – than undertake LGBT-specific equality work.”
For more information about Liveable Lives, click here: