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Could they scrap the Equality Act?

Tell them the Equality Act isn't just a load of "Red Tape"

The government is committed to abolishing unnecessary rules and regulations. If you think that the new Equality Act (which is the successor to the Disability Discrimination Act) is something that we actually need, you should add your voice on a new government website.

The Coalition Government thinks that there are a lot of unneeded laws and rules. In particular there are things which, though they might have some benefits, get in the way of business and enterprise. They have set up a new website - the Red Tape Challenge - where they are asking for public comments on many existing regulations, so that they can decide which of the rules need getting rid of or changing.

Under their General Regulations part of the site they have listed the Equality Act (2010). (You'll find an introduction to this Act by clicking here).

The Act replaced the Disability Discrimination Acts, and brought together the laws about discrimination which protect a number of groups - disabled people, but also women; people from minority ethnic groups; lesbians and gay men; older people; and others.

For all its shortcomings, the Equality Act represents a culmination of years over which laws to prevent discrimination against disabled people have been gradually strengthened. The Act itself was developed after much consultation with disabled people, and after long Parliamentary discussion. And not every part of the Act is even in operation yet.

The Red Tape Challenge site says:

"Tell us what you think should happen to this Act and why, being specific where possible:

  • Should they be scrapped altogether?
  • Can they be merged with existing regulations?
  • Can we simplify them – or reduce the bureaucracy associated with them?
  • Have you got any ideas to make these regulations better?
  • Do you think they should be left as they are?"

We encourage you to go to the website and write something to show your support for the Act, either on your own behalf  or for the group that you represent. 

In eleven months the government has scrapped only ten regulations in total out of the whole range of laws and other regulation that are included in the legal system. So the whole Red Tape Challenge may be more about public relations than a serious threat to the Act. Perhaps no real changes are planned. 

You can be sure that there will be a lot of organisations that want to get rid of some of the costs of making changes to what they do. For example,  welcoming the Red Tape Challenge, the head of the Institute of Directors says that

"There will always be some interest group that will be hurt by the removal of regulations but for the sake of creating jobs and economic growth let’s start sacrificing some legislation for the greater good .... the Government has got to be braver and put employment and economic growth ahead of other concerns" (see the full institute of Directors article here)

Tthe Red Tape Challenge site says that:

" ...the default presumption will be that burdensome regulations will go. If Ministers want to keep them, they have to make a very good case for them to stay"

So let's not risk being silent.

  • Other comments on the Red Tape Challenge from Scope, and the Disability Law Association 
  • It is not clear if there is a cut-off date for these comments: the Disability Law Association statement suggested that they might be only possible until April 20th - but this now looks as if it was a misunderstanding of the process