Localism Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Equality and Diversity Forum (L 15)

About the Equality and Diversity Forum

The Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) is a network of national NGOs committed to equal opportunities, social justice, good community relations, respect for human rights and an end to discrimination based on age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation.


The Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) broadly welcomes the Government’s proposals for the creation of the Big Society and the decentralisation of power. This bill is intended to shift power from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils. We consider that, in principle, services can be more appropriately tailored to meet the needs of the local community if local people and those most directly affected have a greater role in the planning and running of these services. However, protection for minority groups as provided for in the Equality Act 2010 needs to be retained, even when such groups are unpopular within the local community.

We are therefore very concerned about the far reaching powers set out in clause 5 that permit the Minister by order to ‘amend, repeal, revoke or disapply’ any statutory provision that he thinks ‘prevents or restricts local authorities from exercising the general power’. In our view this extensive power is dangerously broad and could be used to revoke or repeal a number of important statutory provisions, such as the Public Sector Equality Duty created by the 2010 Equality Act, with minimal parliamentary scrutiny. We think there is a substantial problem of principle in ministers seeking such powers. If the Government has concerns about the impact of any statutory provisions on the operation of local government then these should be dealt with by formally amending the statutory provision in question not by curtailing parliamentary scrutiny and public engagement. We call for this provision to be removed from the Bill.

January 2011