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Equality and diversity

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Council are working closely  to effectively promote access to services for all its communities and support community cohesion to improve the quality of lives of its residents.

Recognising our diverse communities, we  work closely with partners to ensure that our residents are treated fairly through the delivery of our services and in our community leadership role.

Both Councils are working to meet their obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 and three specific duties:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
  • Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

Policies and key actions and decisions are taken in consideration of the wider community (nine protected characteristic groups) which include the following:

  • Age
  • Being or becoming a transsexual person
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Disability
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Socially excluded

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney have added a tenth equality group (socially excluded) based on the socio-demographics and pockets of deprivation that exist, particularly in rural communities.

A joint approach

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney have adopted a broad approach to meeting their equality duty and to promote access to services for all of their communities, as follows:

Services for All Group - a single Equality and Diversity group represented by service areas and councillors working across both Councils to drive equality improvements through a progressive action plan and provision of training and development.

Human Resources - the aim of the Human Resources Team is to drive the transformation and organisational development of both Councils, while at the same time ensuring the Councils are meeting their ethical and legal responsibilities in respect of all employment and workforce matters including the equality duty.

The HR team ensures that both Councils have the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time to deliver our vision and objectives. They do this by providing services, advice and guidance on people management matters and by leading on organisational development and the People strategy. This work ensures that both Councils have a productive and skilled workforce, enables the Corporate Management Team to plan in the medium to long term what staff it will need, engages and supports staff in organisational change and has effective policies in place which support diversity and good people management.

Training and development provision - regular training workshops are provided across both Councils to Councillors and officers including equality and diversity duties and responsibilities, equality impact analysis, safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults, community mapping. Staff maintains up-to-date awareness through attendance at equality and diversity training, seminars and workshops and working closely with minority groups, voluntary sector and community organisations and with partners. An equality element forms part of the Council’s induction programme for new recruits to the Council. 

Equality impact analysis (EqIA) - both Councils carry out equality impact analysis where appropriate to promote access to services for their wider communities, eliminate discrimination and advance equality in the actions, policies and decisions that both Councils take. The EqIA form serves as a useful prompt when considering the wider community and to record the positive actions, decisions and outcomes taken through the analysis process.

Single equality scheme - the Councils have adopted a single equality scheme.

Community mapping - Councillors and officers are informed and updated of their community make-up, demographic changes and key community issues on an annual basis, through workshops, state of the district reports and through links to other data sources, Suffolk Observatory for example. This information and knowledge is used to inform the EqIA process, prioritising and key decision making.

Consultation and engagement

The East Suffolk Partnership (ESP) is a non statutory, non executive organisation that brings together organisations from the public, business, community and voluntary sectors to support each other and work together to achieve common priorities. The ESP operates at a level which enables strategic decisions that affect East Suffolk and also drive delivery of projects and initiatives at a relatively local level. The ESP is aligned with the district boundaries of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney.

The ESP has identified the following five key areas that represent their primary business although many of the underlying issues are interconnected and demand a collaborative approach to address them successfully:

  • Build on economic prosperity, growth and infrastructure development
  • Ensure people have the skills to meet employment opportunities
  • Encourage a growing, ageing population to live well
  • Build strong communities and reduce inequalities in health, housing, and crime
  • Improve lives through environmental action

East Suffolk Resource Network (ESRN) is a network of voluntary sector infrastructure organisations and public sector partners who have signed a partnership agreement to work towards a set of agreed objectives. Network members have a shared vision of improving the quality of peoples lives and communities, especially for the most disadvantaged, through the provision of a network of robust infrastructure services to frontline Voluntary and Community Organisations in East Suffolk. Partners aim to improve the provision of high quality, accessible and relevant ‘frontline’ services to local Voluntary and Community Sector groups by working together. 

The key objectives for ESRN are to:

  • Facilitate and support community led planning
  • Develop the community and voluntary sector to deliver key services
  • Co-ordinate the support for the community and voluntary sector from key agencies
  • Increase the participation of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney citizens in informal and formal volunteering

Further direct engagement

Both Councils  are working to ensure that communities have a ‘voice’ and a say in service provision and Council issues. This is achieved through the engagement and close working and support of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, older people groups, Suffolk Coastal Disability Forum, Waveney Disability Forum, Optua and the Local Access Forum.

We are working closely with partners in the East Suffolk Resource Network to promote the enabling Communities ethos and to support initiatives including community led planning across both district towns and parishes, to facilitate wider community engagement and responsibility.

Use of existing consultation feedback

Consultation reports and links to other reliable sources of information are also used to inform service design, prioritising and decision making, reducing ‘consultation overload’ and promoting efficiency. Sources include the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transsexual (LGB&T) survey, Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), PCC Police and Crime Plan, Suffolk Needs Assessment and the Suffolk Observatory.

Equality monitoring

We will continue to conduct internal and external equality monitoring to inform our policies and ensure that we are  meeting our commitment to equal opportunity for all staff and our communities.

To meet this commitment, we will on occasion request information relating to the ‘protected characteristics’. We understand that some people will be reluctant to provide personal information relating for example to their age or sexuality and we will respect their decision. We will treat the information that is provided with discretion and appropriate confidentiality and data controls. The information will be used to ensure that we are providing employment and services in a fair, accessible and equitable manner.

A number of our front facing services are in regular contact, engagement and discussion with customers and use the feedback and information received from them to inform their particular service provision.

Equality objectives

Both Councils take their  equality duties and responsibilities seriously and through the  Services for All group will drive the continuous improvement in access to services for all of the district’ communities. To this end, the group has delivered its current action plan and will be progressing a new action plan through consultation, to improve its policies and improvements and to drive our equality objectives. This will ensure  both  Councils meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities and our statutory Equality Duty.

Our equality objectives include promoting access to services for all our communities, a focus on young people, and improving Councillors and officer awareness of the needs, values and cultures of the wider community across the district.

The Council will keep the objectives and action plan under continuous review and will update from time to time as required.

Objectives will be further informed through the district mapping exercise, state of the district report and feedback received from our customers and communities.

We will continually review and update our equality information and this website as we continue to make progress in meeting our equality duty.