RADAR is pleased to announce the publication of "Doing the Duty - The Disability Equality Duty - impact so far and legal enforcement", the report of the 'Doing the Duty' conference hosted by RADAR on 7th January 2009 to mark the second anniversary of the Disability Equality Duty (DED). The report can be downloaded from here.
The conference supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Office for Disability Issues and the Improvement and Development Agency, was a great success, with a range of speakers including Richard Timm, Deputy Director of the Office for Disability Issues, Patrick Diamond Director of Policy and Strategy at the Equality & Human Rights Commission, Angela Mason who leads the work on equality at the Improvement & Development Agency and leading lawyers such as Cathy Casserley from Cloisters Chambers.
The audience comprised over 150 invited delegates, of whom just under half were from public authorities. A significant number of these were from local authorities from around the country; there were also representatives from housing, education, regulatory bodies and government departments/agencies. There was equal representation from disabled people, including individual disabled campaigners and activists(many of whom have been involved in developing Disability Equality Schemes) and national disability organisations. We also had representatives from legal firms and media organisations.
Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of RADAR and Conference Chair said:
"What has impressed RADAR is how much of a difference the Disability Equality Duty is making two years on, as the involvement of disabled people is fed through into public service reform and real outcomes."
"With a new Single Equality Duty scheduled to replace the DED, it is of the utmost importance to disabled people that the strengths of the DED are retained and its weaknesses, where they still exist, are remedied. Having witnessed the potential of the DED to change public services for the better, disabled people will not be fobbed off with a diluted and weakened alternative, and RADAR will be pressing the Government to ensure that this does not happen."
1. RADAR, founded in 1977, is the UK's largest disability campaigning network with over 900 individual and organisational members. RADAR stands for the Royal Association of Disability and Rehabilitation.
2. RADAR is a charity run by and for disabled people that depends on the financial and voluntary support of others including public donations. To find out more please visit our web site http://www.radar.org.uk or call 020 7250 3222 / minicom 020 7250 4119 or email email@example.com
3. Key messages from the Conference were:
- The Disability Equality Duty is having a significant impact with identifiable outcomes across the public sector. It has further potential to secure very significant outcomes and improvements in a range of areas from social care to transport.
- The Disability Equality Duty has huge strengths - the requirement to involve disabled people, the policy changes arising from impact assessments and the actions coming out of Disability Equality Schemes-all of these have the potential to transform public services.
- While there is evidence of the DED changing the culture of many public authorities and of the benefits of involving disabled people, there are still unacceptable levels of complacency. Strong enforcement and transparent monitoring by the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be key, as will activism by disabled people.
- Public authorities need support around training in equality impact assessments; successfully involving disabled people and linking the DED in with their performance framework; if they do not this will cost them dearly.
- Recent legal cases under the DED and the Race Equality Duty demonstrate the seriousness with which the courts view non-compliance with the Duty and failure to carry out proper disability equality impact assessments.
- Disabled people and their organisations are ready and willing to enforce the Duty themselves. To maximise this they need greater resources to get and stay involved, to monitor performance and challenge authorities who do not do the duty.
- A Single Equality Duty could pose a real threat to disability equality unless the DED is strengthened and built on. The benefits we have already seen could so easily be lost and the potential for further outcomes could be diminished. The key elements of the DED must be maintained and extended.