The Equality Act
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010.
The Equality Bill was introduced by the Government in April 2009 with the aim of simplifying existing discrimination legislation. This is achieved in the Act by grouping all strands together and listing each of them as a ‘protected characteristic’.
The Equality Act replaces the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) so it's important that the rights that disabled people enjoyed under the DDA are replicated, and expanded, in the Equality Act.
What are we focusing on?
During the passage of the Act, Scope worked with other disability organisations to ensure that the protection afforded to disabled people under the DDA is not watered down and, more specifically, that:
- the asymmetric nature of disability discrimination law is retained, which means that treating disabled people more favourably doesn't constitute discrimination against other people
- the duty to make reasonable adjustments is retained, acknowledging that more favourable treatment is required to afford disabled people equality of opportunity
- the ‘long-term’ requirement is removed from the definition of disability, as it creates a barrier for disabled people with fluctuating conditions in challenging discrimination
Our priority now is to ensure that the rights in the Equality Act are enforceable and work in practice for disabled people. A key provision in the Act is the public sector Equality Duty which comes into force on April 6. This is a positive duty that will help public bodies to deliver better outcomes for disabled people. The Government has been recently consulting on its proposals for the specific duties which describe how public bodies should work to eliminate discrimination against disabled people and put additional requirements on them to demonstrate how they are promoting equality.
When the Government first published their draft duties, Scope, in partnership with other disability organisations, raised significant concerns that the duties were significantly weaker than the current legal duty on public bodies. The Government has since published a policy review that makes further changes to the revised specific duties. We will be engaging with Ministers and responding to the review to ensure that there is no watering down on the level of protection disabled people currently enjoy.
Want to know more?
Read the Equality Act.
Read the DCC response (Word document, 187KB) on the specific equality duties consultation