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The Equalities Review

The Equalities Review

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Final Report of The Equalities Review sets out why Equality is not a 'minorities-only' zone  

The Equalities Review's Final Report, Fairness and Freedom, published on 28 February 2007, warns that despite the significant progress achieved over the past 60 years, some kinds of inequality are set to remain at intolerable levels, and calls for a new approach to tackling discrimination and disadvantage. 

The Phillips' report proposes a ten-step programme to help make Britain a fairer, more equal country at ease with its diversity and ready to face the challenges of the 21st century.

The report warns that unless efforts are drastically stepped up, even the great-great-grandchildren of current legislators will not enjoy the sight of a Parliament with equal numbers of men and women or substantial numbers of ethnic minority MPs. At the current rate it could take until 2085 to close the pay gap between men and women; until 2045 for Black Caribbean 11 year olds to close the attainment gap in English and Maths; and on current trends the employment penalty facing disabled people may never be eliminated.

The Chair of the Equalities Review Panel, Trevor Phillips, said:

"This Report is entirely about one of the - if not the - most cherished aspirations of the British people: to live in a society that is fair and free, and which provides for each individual to realise his or her potential to the fullest. At root, this is what we should mean by an equal society.

"Today, we report that greater equality would benefit the whole of society.  But we also warn that inequality still scars our entire society and holds back too many individuals from realising their potential. If we do not create a new framework to tackle existing, entrenched and emerging inequalities we risk losing the momentum built up by three generations.

"The last few years have seen inequality reduced in many ways. But as the tide of disadvantage recedes, the rocks of persistent inequality have been revealed.  People face inequality in many forms - not only on the grounds of race, gender or disability but also sexual orientation, age, gender identity, and religion or belief. They struggle because of outdated attitudes and systemic failures. It will take many years to remove the remaining barriers to equality. In some cases, unless we accelerate progress, it is unlikely that disadvantage will ever be overcome. We have to act now." 

The report proposes a new working definition for equality, centred on the freedom people have to flourish, that takes factors beyond income and wealth into account. According to the report’s Equality Scorecard, any modern measure of equality needs to take account of important areas such as family and social life, education, safety, quality of life, and freedom of belief and religion. Outcomes in these areas remain unequal for many groups across society.

The Phillips' report recommends ten steps to greater equality, including:

Conclusions were based substantial new research and meetings and consultations with hundreds of people across England, Scotland and Wales.

The Review recommends that the CEHR, which will become operational in October 2007, should report on progress against the ten steps to greater equality within its triennial State of the Nation report.

Notes to editors

The Equalities Review Panel is independent from Government, and was asked by the Prime Minister to carry out an investigation into the causes of persistent discrimination and inequality in British society. Focusing on the four key areas of public life in which it found evidence of the most persistent inequalities - early years and education, employment, health, and crime and criminal justice - the Review has carried out detailed analysis of existing and new research in order to assess the extent to which certain individuals/groups are disadvantaged. It examines some of the reasons why this appears to be the case and illustrates the consequences these inequalities are having.

The Panel consisted of Trevor Phillips (Chair), Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas and Sir Robert Kerslake.

A separate review, the Discrimination Law Review, is being carried out by Communities and Local Government to assess how anti-discrimination legislation can be modernised and simplified. For more information visit
A wide Reference Group of stakeholders and experts from across the equality strands, human rights, business and the public sectors, co-chaired by Sir Bert Massie, Chair of the Disability Rights Commission, and Jenny Watson, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, provided independent advice and input to the Equalities Review.

The Final Report of the Equalities Review  [PDF 1.3Mb] was launched at 1100 on Wednesday 28 February at the DTI Conference Centre, 1 Victoria Street.