Fair For All is our equality strategy and sets out a number of objectives that we have decided are equality priorities for the Council. These are set in consultation with stakeholders and by looking at equality information. The current strategy runs from April 2015 to March 2019.
Equality Impact Assessment
Impact assessment is a process of analysis which helps to assess the likely or actual impact a decision, policy, project or service has on different sections of the community (including employees). It helps to place fairness for all at the centre of decision making, policy and practice.
We have a specific legal duty to publish information about people affected by our policies and practices. We partly fulfil this duty by publishing impact assessments and equality information as described above, we also publish Annual Reports on equality.
Our new guidance, published September 2016, explains how and why we may collect personal information about people for the purposes of diversity monitoring and communicating with service users.
People and Groups:
- We have a group of external partners who represent many of the diverse interests within our communities. They are drawn from the voluntary and community sector and are known as the Equality Reference Group. Members advise and support our work on equality and diversity, providing ideas and challenging us on our performance.
- The Equality Reference Group hold Surgeries at least six times a year, providing us with an opportunity to consult on aspects of policy and service delivery, find out about issues affecting communities, and share performance information.
- The lead officer for equality is the Chief Executive, Phil Norrey.
- We have a full time Corporate Equality Officer who co-ordinates and monitors our plans and activities and is the Council’s principal advisor on equality and diversity matters.
- There are currently two groups that staff can join: The LGBT Staff Network and Excellence not Excuses (A Multi-Ethnic Forum which includes community representatives and advises on racial equality matters; this group is not a staff network).
- Across the organisation is a network of Impact Assessment Facilitators. The role of the facilitator is to support others in conducting assessments.
- Our elected member with the equality portfolio is Councillor Barry Parsons.
The Role of Impact Assessment in Effective Decision Making – Learning from Recent Judicial Reviews.
Between 2011 and 2012, Devon County Council was subjected to three Judicial Reviews which included challenges around the Public Sector Equality Duty and consultation. As a result an internal review was carried out to learn from these challenges and identify areas for improvement for the whole organisation. A series of workshops were held and eight learning points identified. As a result, a set of recommendations and a project plan have been established. The report, which captures the findings of the review and recommendations, published in September 2013, is being shared publicly so that other agencies can learn from our review.
Local Government Equality Framework
Devon County Council was confirmed at Level 3 of the old equality standard in October 2008 following a Diversity Peer Challenge. This means we are now at the Achieving Level of the Equality Framework for Local Government.
Audit Commission and ‘The Direction Of Travel’
In the Annual Audit and Inspection Letter March 2009, the Audit Commission writes:
“The Council has strengthened its approach to equalities and diversity and achieved level 3 of the local government equality standard in 2008. Successful initiatives include understanding the needs of gypsies, ravellers and migrants and the ‘narrowing the gap’ project in Ilfracombe, which aims to establish a sustainable model to make best use of the Council resources to support disadvantaged and vulnerable families to live longer, feel happier, be more resilient and more independent. There has been innovative engagement with specific groups, for example the senior council and youth council, who are producing outcomes such as better access to Tiverton School and providing feedback on the older people’s strategy. However, equality impact assessments are not yet producing outcomes for enough residents and the Council recognises it can improve systems to collect and use citizen feedback.”
The Audit Commission also carried out a comprehensive audit of our work on equality.