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Government Intensifies Efforts on Changing Equalities Legislation

A special Spotlight has been launched on the governments ’Red Tape Challenge’ website debating the Equality Act 2010.  Key aspects of the legislation are now open for review. The Spotlight will be facilitated by Equalities champion Caroline Waters, Head of HR, at BT. The move has come as a surprise to many who thought the coalition were fully behind the Act within its present form.

Following initial inclusion of the Equality Act 2010 on the “Red Tape Challenge” website the government moved quickly to stress their commitment to keeping the legislation after it was rumoured that the Act would be scrapped. Minister of Equalities Theresa May reassuring stakeholders in a press release this week that the presence of Equality Act did not mean the government was considering scrapping it. Over 5000 responses were received when the Act first appeared on the Red tape Challenge, the majority of which questioned the Governments judgement for putting it on the website in the first place.
 
However undeterred the government’s has made the Act a bigger focus. A spotlight is now running to examine every fundamental aspect of the Equality Act 2010. The government describes the objective of the Spotlight as exploring ways in which it can achieve equality goals in a different way, focusing on reducing any burdens and bureaucracies associated with the Act and its implementation. The consultation asks questions such whether equality objectives can be achieved by a voluntary code, if provisions with the Act should be scrapped all together. The first major proposal to come from the Spotlight is a simplification of age restriction rules on retail products.
 
Many Equality and Diversity Practitioners are left questioning if the government is dismantling or watering down perfectly affective regulation. The Equality Act 2010 has already undergone several consultations with the support and backing of Britain’s leading equalities charities, some arguing that the Act could have gone further. 
 
Speaking about the consultation Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

"The Equality Act is here to stay. Fairness and opportunity for all remain at the heart of government. But there is always more we can do to ensure that business is not being strangled by red tape. This government is committed to economic prosperity and reducing unnecessary rules and regulations. We want to hear from individuals, businesses, public sector organisations and voluntary and community organisations about how the Act is working in practice. We want to know whether the Act could be simplified, better implemented, or if certain provisions should be dropped or amended, or whether it should be kept exactly as it is."
 
Respondents can contribute to the debate until 30 June 2011 by clicking  here.

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