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Equality Commissionís Future Under Review Leaked Memo Reveals

According to a leaked document seen by the Daily Telegraph, 177 government Quangos are to be abolished. An additional 94 tax funded bodies including the Equality and Human Commission Rights (EHRC) are being considered for the scrap the document reveals. The BBC reports seeing a similar list and significantly government officials have been unable to deny the alleged plans.

The EHRC which employs 541 staff had already been ordered to slash its budget by 12% this year. A further 200’000 was removed from its budget when it failed to produce a guide for the Single Equality Act 2010 on time. Scrapping the organisation all together would potentially save the tax payer 52 Million, making the coalition the first government without an independently funded advisory body on equalities since 1976.
 
Could an equality framework exist without the EHRC? The Commission has a number of important statutory functions such as intervening where public sector equalities duties are breached, investigating matters of discrimination, enforcement and championing legal cases that may strengthen or clarify equality laws. If the organisation was to go would the government equalities office be able to take this on? Could the government investigate itself and challenge its own laws on equality?
 
During the election the government promised a “bonfire of the Quangos” as part of its deficit reduction programme. The cost of the independent government funded bodies are thought to currently cost the tax payer 65 billion a year. Like the EHRC all the organisations at risk will need to prove their value to the taxpayer before the budget review in October or face the prospect of abolition should they fail.
 
Speaking on the BBC's Politics Show cabinet minister Erik Pickles said the list was 'a bit dated'. “We did say we were going to reduce the number of quangos. We will be making an announcement in due course. It's a bit dated, that document. I think things may have moved on.” It seems like the most uncertain times have arrived for the EHRC and for those who work with Equality and Diversity.

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