The Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability was set up on 11 June 2015, primarily with the task of conducting post-legislative scrutiny of that Act. Its remit however is narrower: it is “to consider and report on the impact on people with disabilities of the Equality Act 2010”. The Committee will therefore be looking at the Act, to see whether it is satisfactorily governing the matters which Parliament intended it to, but only in relation to people with disabilities. In doing so the Committee will be looking at the provisions of the Act but also at its implementation. The Committee has to report by 23 March 2016.
This is a public call for written evidence to be submitted to the Committee. The deadline is 4 September 2015.
This call for evidence will also be available in an Easy Read version on the Committee website at the link below. If you require other adjustments to enable you to respond please contact the Committee team: details also below.
It is helpful if opinions are supported by factual evidence where appropriate.
The Equality Act 2010 was intended to “harmonise discrimination law and strengthen the law to support progress on equality.” It brought together a number of pieces of equality legislation into one Act, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It protects against discrimination on the grounds of the ‘protected characteristics’ of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation, and requires reasonable adjustments to avoid putting disabled people at a “substantial” disadvantage.
These provisions apply to both the public and private sectors in respect of employment, education, housing, goods and services, public services and transport. The Act also contains a duty on public authorities to “have due regard” to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality, and foster good relations: ‘the public sector equality duty’.
The Committee would welcome general views on whether the Act has achieved these objects for people with disabilities. It would in particular welcome views on the following issues. You need not address all these questions.
(1)Has the Equality Act 2010 achieved the aim of strengthening and harmonising disability discrimination law? What has been the effect of disability now being one of nine protected characteristics?
(2)Are there gaps in the law on disability and equality not covered by the Equality Act 2010 or other legislation?
(3)Are the reasonable adjustment duties known and understood by disabled people, employers, service providers and others who have duties under them? How does this apply in the specific cases of public transport, taxis, education and access to sports grounds?
(4)Should the law be more explicit on what constitutes a reasonable adjustment? If so, in what way?
(5)How effective has the public sector equality duty been in practice? How do you assess its contribution to the aims of the Equality Act 2010?
(6)What has been the impact of the different approaches in England, Wales and Scotland to the specific duties designed to support the general public sector equality duty? Have the specific duties supported implementation for disabled people?
(7)Does the division of responsibilities between Ministers and government departments affect the effective implementation of the Equality Act 2010 in respect of disability?
(8)How effective has the Equality and Human Rights Commission been in exercising its regulation and enforcement powers, and what contribution has this made to the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on people with disabilities?
(9)Could other regulatory bodies with a role in the effective implementation of the Equality Act 2010, such as inspectorates and ombudsmen, play a more significant part?
(10)Are the current enforcement mechanisms available to private individuals (through Employment Tribunals, County Courts and, in Scotland, Sheriff Courts) accessible and effective for people with disabilities, employers and providers of goods, facilities and services?
(11)Are there other legislative or non-legislative measures that would improve implementation of the Equality Act 2010 in respect of disability?