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Budget cuts may leave to all white management at EHRC

In 2007, The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was established to ensure all members of society were safe from discrimination in the work place. As the institution that is responsible for upholding equalities laws, a diverse workforce is essential. In a bid to meet the budget cuts imposed by the coalition government, the EHRC is being slashed to just over 40% of its original size, and many of those who are set to lose their jobs fall into the minority groups that the government body was set up to protect.

Women, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities represent a large portion of EHRC members who will lose their jobs this year. While many are due to receive generous redundancy packages after taking voluntary redundancy, there are concerns that the EHRC may be about to make further job cuts in the autumn. These cuts contradict the promises made by the coalition government to improve diversity in the workplace. With a lack of representation for ethnic minorities at a managerial level in the EHRC, the major concern is that the commission's existence has become somewhat redundant.

When it was initially established in 2007, the EHRC had a budget of £70 million. Following recent spending cuts, that budget has formally been reduced to £26 million, and it has recently emerged that those who run the government body have set a new annual budget of £18 million. Such cuts will allow for the EHRC to retain fewer representatives than the former commission for Racial Equality and Disability Rights.

One of the major criticisms of the staff reductions has been aimed at the all-white management that is set to come into place next month. As chairman Trevor Phillips is set to retire from his position next month, the new managerial team will consist purely of people who are white.

The cuts imposed on the EHRC have also caused concern with the United Nations (UN). Due to the lack of BAME representation within the body, the UN are now considering retracting its "A-Status". The UN have stated that the commission may now be too small to qualify for such status, and such a statement has acted as a formal recognition of its demise.

The number of commissioners representing the EHRC are now due to be reduced from 14 to eight. Those who currently hold commissioner positions have been warned that they should expect to re-apply for their positions, and the employment criteria has attracted criticism from equal rights campaigners. Rather than focusing on candidates who have a background in equality, the EHRC is placing emphasis on financial, legal, and business qualifications. This means that the focus of those who work at a managerial level in the EHRC could focus on business practicalities, rather than maintaining a sense of social inclusion across British workplaces.

As concerns about the EHRC's lack of BAME representation at managerial level continue, chief executive Mark Hammond has continued to defend the budget cuts. It remains to be seen whether the management of the commission will represent those it has been set up to represent at all.


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Comments for article #416
Max Thornton - Date Posted:12/10/2012

My questions have been answered. I used to call the EHRC for Equality related issues and concerns and overall was quite impressed with the assistance I received. A few days ago I telephoned the new set up and within a few minutes I learnt that the Advisor was clueless, I put the phoned down thinking it was just bad luck and called again. Quite simply the standards have fell drastically, they appear ignorant of equality issues and I ended up correcting them. I work witin the equality field so had some knowledge but they were hopeless. I really fear for the future of equality within the UK, fear that we're about to go back pre-macpherson (well did we ever move on from that anyway). Quite scary.

Jaquinta Snell - Date Posted:17/09/2012

Blighty is very racist place; all black and asian people loses jobs first when it comes to cuts. EHRC is just as racist as anywhere else, the BME managers that buck the trend and get to the top pattern the same behaviour and so no sustained progress occurs.

Madhu Limbachia - Date Posted:12/09/2012

I am saddened to hear Trevor Phillips is stepping dowm also all 8 appointed will be white. I feel this will give some people tp prejuduce more against Diversity people. It is so covert which is very difficult to identify

Social Vanguard - Date Posted:05/09/2012

The work of the Commission is now under threat. The government plans to slash its budget by 68% (compared to when it was set up in 2007). It is likely to; lose more than half its workforce reduce its legal enforcement ability close its Helpline to the public, business and the public sector lose its regional offices end its grants to charities or projects disability groups and community organisations that are often the first port of call for victims of discrimination and harassment. At a time of unprecedented cuts that will hit the most vulnerable in society hardest, far right politics scapegoating minority communities and a roadblock needed to restrict the worst excesses of an unregulated market, we must save the EHRC. Sign the Petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43944.html

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