Equality and diversity
Our councillors and staff work together to actively promote equality and diversity of access to services for all East Suffolk residents and for council staff.
We are working to meet our obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 through the three specific public sector 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.
New and updated policies and key decisions about services should take into consideration the specific needs of the nine protected characteristic groups, identified within the Equality Act, plus socio-economic disadvantage which has also been identified as a priority in East Suffolk:
- Being or becoming a transsexual person
- Being married or in a civil partnership
- Being pregnant or on maternity leave
- Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
- Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
- Sexual Orientation
- Socio-economic disadvantages (we have added a tenth characteristic - socio economic disadvantage, which includes the pockets of deprivation that exist, particularly in our rural communities)
East Suffolk Equality and Diversity Policy
We work closely with partners to ensure that our residents are treated fairly through the delivery of our services and development of our policies and strategies.
The East Suffolk Equality and Diversity Policy focusses on a range of things we do to try to ensure that we promote equality including:
- Accessible buildings from which services are delivered.
- Charges for services that take into account income deprivation where possible.
- Engaging with individuals and communities when developing new services.
- Providing information about our services in a range of formats.
- Interacting with the public in appropriate ways.
- Striving to meet people’s individual needs when delivering services wherever possible.
- Monitoring take up of our services to ensure equity.
- Being transparent about the basis upon which we make decisions.
- Training frontline staff to understand and meet the specific needs of customers.
We have recently undertaken a self-assessment against the Equality Framework for Local Government (EFLG). The EFLG was developed by the Local Government Association (LGA) to support local councils to meet their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 including the Public Sector Equality Duties (PSED)
We have used this to define a set of priorities for the coming 12 months:
Equality and diversity priorities 2022
- Increase data collection, collation and analysis on the basis of the ten protected characteristic groups.
- Use this data to inform our equality objectives, commissioning and service planning.
- Review our Equality Objectives, ensure that they are SMARTer and embedded in other corporate plans and service plans.
- Produce an Annual Equality Report.
- Improve monitoring and review against equality priorities, including inequality and health inequality (both our own and commissioned services).
- Use this monitoring to influence the refresh of objectives in the Strategic Plan. Integrate equality objectives, outcomes and analysis into other corporate plans.
- As part of the review of the Scrutiny Committee, consider their role in relation to monitoring Equality and Diversity.
- Gather information from Ward Councillors and front-line staff, including about community relations/tensions, in a more systematic way.
- Identify additional ways to involve underrepresented groups, including in participation in public life and decision making.
- Continue our work to promote community relations and tackle community tensions.
- .Increase staff confidence in delivering services to diverse customers, ensuring an understanding of the needs of all customers.
- Maintain Councillor and CMT commitment to equalities and our approach to challenging inequalities.
- Consider cumulative impacts – across services - on specific protected characteristic groups.
- Agree how to demonstrate improved outcomes for people with one or more protected characteristics.
Equality and diversity tools
We use various tools to meet the Equality Duty and promote equality of access to services for all of our communities:
- Services for All Group - an equality and diversity group, including representatives from different service areas, to drive equality improvements through a progressive action plan and the planning of training and development.
- Human Resources - our Human Resources (HR) team drives the transformation and organisational development of the council, while at the same time ensuring that we are meeting our ethical and legal responsibilities in respect of all employment and workforce matters, including the equality duty.
- People Strategy – the HR team ensures that we have the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time to deliver our vision and objectives. This ensures that we have a productive and skilled workforce and effective policies in place which support diversity and good people management.
- Training and development provision - regular training workshops are provided to councillors and officers including equality and diversity duties and responsibilities, equality impact analysis, safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk and community mapping. A session on equalities forms part of our induction programme for all new recruits to the council.
- We work closely with minority groups, voluntary sector and community organisations, including through the two Disability Forums, the Youth Council, Youth Voice and local faith groups.
- We commission our three Citizens Advice and Disability Advice Service/Disability Advice North East Suffolk to support specific protected characteristic groups.
Measuring equality impact
We carry out equality impact analysis (EqIA) wherever appropriate to promote access to services for all members of our communities, eliminate discrimination and advance equality in the actions, policies and decisions that we take.
Equality Impact Analysis ensures that staff and councillors consider the whole East Suffolk community when making decisions about policy, strategy and services. Recording these enables us to capture the positive actions, decisions and outcomes that result from the equality analysis process.
All Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee reports relating to changes in policy and service delivery are required to include consideration of the outcomes of an EqIA.
Community mapping - Councillors and officers are regularly updated about the make up of the East Suffolk community through workshops, State of Suffolk/East Suffolk reports and through links to other data sources including Suffolk Observatory. This information and knowledge is used to inform the EqIA process and key decision making.
Where appropriate, we 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 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 both 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 the provision of their service.