Race Equality Statement
1. Equality Values, Principles and Standards
The Council's mission statement encompasses equality values at all levels of community in all aspects of service:
- "Broxtowe Borough Council strives to provide high quality services.
- Our aim is to improve the quality of life of local people by meeting their housing, environmental, economic and leisure needs.
- We will represent and promote the community at all levels.
- In doing so, we will build an innovative, modern authority through fair, open and responsive local government, making efficient use of available resources."
Within the Council's core values and corporate aims, the Council is committed to pursue the values of fairness and equality:
- "We aim to ensure that services are accessible to all customers by taking positive action to encourage disadvantaged groups and individuals and by increasing awareness".
And within the entire community:
- "We aim to promote greater community involvement in the delivery of services by ensuring open consultation and support for all sections of the community".
2. Equality Strategic Aims
The Council's corporate objectives include fairness and equality:
- We will ensure fairness in the treatment of customers and employees, and in the delivery of services.
- We will take positive action where necessary to ensure fair access for all.
- We will, in reviewing services, take action to tackle issues arising from poverty, social exclusion and disabilities.
And with its service priorities, social inclusion to:
- "Identify the causes of social exclusion and take action to ensure that services are accessible to all customers".
3. The New General Policy
The general duty says that the Council must "have due regard to the need" to:
- Tackle racial discrimination
- Promote equality of opportunity
- Promote good race relations
In practice this will mean the Council making sure that the duty is central to the way any function is carried out where race equality is relevant. Functions cover the whole range of the Council's powers and duties. In order for the Council to be satisfied that the duty is being met it will be necessary to:
- Identify which functions are relevant to equality issues
- Prioritise these functions
- Assess all relevant functions and policies for their impact on equality and
- Consider and make any necessary changes to policies to meet the general duty
- In the employment context, carry out an audit of all employees and revise any policy or practice that puts employees or job applicants at a disadvantage
4. The Specific Duties
Guidance for local authorities states that the specific duties introduced by the RRAA are to help authorities meet the general duty. The specific duties are:
- to prepare and publish an equality scheme by 31 May 2002
This is effectively a strategy and action plan. It will summarise the Councils approach to race equality and its corporate objectives. It will also say how each part of the duties will be met, including arrangements for assessing, consulting, monitoring and training.
- to set out, within the Race Equality Scheme, arrangements for training staff on the issues that are relevant to the general duty
Under this duty training should have a specific focus, and in particular, should be aimed at those employees who have specific responsibilities for managing and introducing the Equality Scheme. However it is acknowledged in the guidance that all employees will need training on equality issues to avoid unlawful discrimination within employment. The duty aims to make sure employees have the skills they need to ensure that an authority meets the general duty.
- to monitor, by reference to the racial groups to which they belong, the numbers of staff in post and applicants for employment, training and promotion.
Some other areas are included for monitoring where 150 or more full-time staff are employed. The information is to be used to see if there are differences between racial groups, investigate reasons for any differences and deal with unfairness, disadvantage or discrimination.
5. Action Plan and Timetable
In accordance with the general duty to overall equality, prepare and publish an equality scheme, the Council has prepared an action plan.
6. Review of the Action Plan and Timetable
The equality scheme needs to be regularly reviewed at least every three years. However, in accordance with the guidance, consideration should be given to an annual review of the policies and functions listed as prioritised and, to enable consideration of new policies and functions introduced during the year. Accordingly a flexible approach is preferred, with a full re-assessment (taking into account any interim changes) every third year.
7. Equality Performance Indicators and Equality Targets
The Council's Best Value Performance Plan 2001-2002 sets out performance indicators which, amongst other targets, relate to Racial Equality.
In relation to employees, the relevant performance indicators confirm:
- That the Council provides services equally to all recipients.
- The Council conforms to level 2 of the Commission for Racial Equalities 'Standards for Local Government', and follows the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Code of Practice on Employment and provision of services.
- Formal monitoring of recruitment of employees with respect to equal opportunities is carried out and for 2002/03. It is estimated that 0.6% of our employees are from the minority/ethnic community.
8. Dealing With Complaints
The Council has in place a well established corporate complaints procedure for dealing with any type of complaint from members of the public or outside bodies. This procedure already has experience of considering complaints involving suggestions of inequality. It is considered to be specialised enough to continue to deal with complaints following the coming into force of the new general and specific duties, but the Councils scheme will clarify as a high priority for training purposes specifically in relation to equality issues.
In relation to complaints from employees, the Council has built into the action plan, the establishment of a complaints procedure and the standardisation of a system for recording and monitoring.
9. Consultation of Employees and the Public
The Council will continue to consult and provide information to all its employees. Examples of effective communication networks include regular team meetings, working groups, Broxtowe Employee Newsletter, the Local Joint Consultative Committee and training and development through the Investors in People Standard.
The Council's Consultation Strategy strives towards "building better communities" and recognises that it cannot achieve this without engaging its citizens in the decisions that affect the quality of their lives.
The Council aims to build on its established consultation exercises which include customer surveys, working parties and focus groups, roadshows, meetings, tenant surveys and newsletters.
10. Informing the Community about the Council's Equality Progress
The Council's Best Value Performance Plan is published annually and includes targets in respect of equal opportunities. The plan is available for inspection at all Council Offices and at local libraries.