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The Equalities Review

The Equalities Review

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Background information on the Equalities Review

A root and branch review to investigate the causes of persistent discrimination and inequality in British society was announced by the then Equality Minister Jacqui Smith and the then Minister for the Cabinet Office David Miliband on 25 February 2005.

Announcing the Review, Jacqui Smith, said:

'Discrimination simply has no place in our society.

'We can only tackle poverty, ensure access to the best public services and enable people to make the most of their talents, whatever their background, if we have equality of opportunity and fairness for all.

'We need to look to the future and question why deep-seated patterns of disadvantage remain so that we can improve opportunities and help the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights make a strong impact from the start.'

David Miliband, joint Ministerial sponsor for the Review said:

'A dynamic economy relies on using the talents of all. We have made significant progress in improving opportunities for disadvantaged groups since the Labour Government introduced the first groundbreaking anti-discrimination legislation in 1965. This review will give us the strategic understanding we need in order to understand the barriers that still unjustly stop people achieving their potential.'

Working in parallel to the Equalities Review, the Department of Trade and Industry will begin new work informed by the Equalities Review on the development of a simpler, fairer legal framework. Involving several government departments, the Discrimination Law Review will assess how our anti-discrimination legislation can be modernised to fit the needs of Britain in the 21st century. This work will consider the approaches that are effective in eradicating remaining discrimination but avoid imposing unnecessary, bureaucratic burdens on business and public services.

The Equalities Review will take into account existing work to address the barriers faced by specific groups, such as the Government's Community Cohesion and Race Equality Strategy, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit's reports on 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People' and 'Ethnic Minorities and the Labour Market' and the current Women and Work Commission.

It will build on these findings to develop a better understanding of the long-term and underlying barriers to opportunity that face many individuals and groups in society, based on evidence of what works at home and abroad. It will improve the Government's ability to tackle issues such as hate crime, the pay gap between different groups and the disproportionate risk that some groups face of living in poverty or having a below average chance of educational success.

Welcoming his role in the Review, its Chair Trevor Phillips said:

'I am delighted to be asked to chair this vital review in a personal capacity and I am confident that this will be an important contribution towards embedding equality in government policy and towards achieving greater equality in the UK.

'This exercise is not a parallel or separate process to the CEHR. As the Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality I welcome the Government's response to the CRE comments on the CEHR and recognise the changes and improvements that have been made to plans for the new commission. The CRE intends to work wholeheartedly with our sister commissions and new strands as we move towards a unified commission that we can all support.'

The Government announced its intention to legislate to establish a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) in the Queen's speech in November 2004. The new commission which will bring together expertise from the current equality commissions (the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission) and make provide support for the first time for the new equality areas of age, religion and belief and sexual orientation. The CEHR will also promote human rights and will have a flexible suite of powers to enforce legislation and promote equality in relation to all disadvantaged groups.