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Fawcett Society Accuse Government of Sabotaging Equality Duty

The Fawcett Society have this week accused the coalition government of reversing and dismantling some key measures that were designed to protect both women and minority groups.

Those campaigning for equality took part in a protest outside the Home Office to express their frustration about the possible removal of the public sector equality duty (PSED), legislation that is expected to be reviewed by the government in the next few weeks.

The PSED was set up to tackle inequalities in April 2011, having been introduced under the Equality Act 2010. Scrapping it gives rise to fears about weakening the state’s role in dealing with inequality.  

The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading campaigning organisation for women’s equality and rights. Chief Executive Ceri Goddard argues that although slow progress in equality laws has been made over the years, in only two years of our coalition government coming into power many equality laws have been reversed.

Home secretary Theresa May announced in May that there would be a review of the PSED. The argument is that the costs and benefits of the PSED should be looked into and any necessary changes would be made to "ensure better equality outcomes". The group who have been put in charge of the review consists mainly of former Tory politicians.

Supporters were shocked to find the PSED included in the “red tape challenge”, which is a review of unnecessary bureaucracy begun by the government two years ago, and with conservative MPs being the biggest supporters of the red tape challenge, there are fears of bias in favour of scrapping the duty.

The Fawcett Society's report “Red Tape, Red Lines” lists all the actions taken by the government since 2010 that they consider have already undermined the infrastructure that was built up to help reduce inequalities.

With the annual budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's being reduced from £70m in 2007 to only £17m, worrying times seem to lie ahead for equality campaigners.


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