Hampshire County Council
Policy and Resources Scrutiny and Select Committee
11 April 2005
Covering Report for the Outcomes of the Equality and Diversity Best Value Review
Report of the Chief Executive
Contact: Jenny Heath, Corporate Performance Manager, ext 7402
This covering report is intended to provide an `at-a-glance' summary for Members and leads into the outcome report which has been written by the core review team
1.1 The scope of this review has been to carry out an authority wide assessment against the national standards that will enable the County Council to move towards level three of the standard.
1.2 The review team have developed the following vision for equality and diversity:
Hampshire County Council positively values diversity and expects others to do the same, respects individual rights and encourages personal responsibility. As a result the people of Hampshire believe that the Council acts in the best interest of the whole community and these communities are more socially cohesive and self-sufficient.
2.1 The statutory basis for activity related to equality and diversity includes:
· The Race Relations (Amendment) Act
· The Disability Discrimination Act
· The Sex Discrimination Act
· The Equal Pay Act
· Employment regulations on religion and belief
· Employment regulations on sexual orientation.
The best value review programme is a key element in supporting Corporate Strategy aim 5; `Improving services, with particular reference to the theme of improving our performance'. This review tackles an area which underpins the whole of the Corporate Strategy, while particular objectives in aim 5 relate to ensuring buildings are accessible and improving fair access to services, with a specific target of achieving level 3 of the Equality Standard for Local Government by 2004/05.
4.1 The Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) Corporate Report carried out in 2002 resulted in a specific recommendation to improve the Council's performance in relation to equality and diversity:
In order to progress its aspirations for corporate crosscutting priorities (such as equalities and crime and disorder), the Council should ensure that these issues are given the corporate attention and central resources necessary to help the Council meet its targets.
4.2 The review team has concluded that the current arrangements will not enable the Council to meet its own target for achieving level three of the equality standard. Of greater concern is that current arrangements are not sufficiently robust to meet the rigorous duty of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act and similar legislation on disability and gender planned for 2006. This places the Council at serious risk of a compliance notice.
5.1 The review identified four strategic outcomes which will provide evidence that the vision for equality and diversity in Hampshire is being achieved:
· The staff and elected members at all levels reflect the diversity of the community and the Council is seen as a role model promoting an inclusive society
· The diverse customer groups of the Council perceive that services are provided in a way that is sensitive and responsive to the different needs of the community, making fair and equitable use of the available resources
· Fair and equal access to services and employment has been achieved by providing clear information in a variety of ways and engaging with individuals to establish their particular requirements
· Communities and individuals are actively engaged with the decision making processes of the Council in a variety of flexible and responsive ways that actively reach out to socially excluded people
5.2 Implementation of the improvement plan will establish the specific processes and actions to deliver these strategic outcomes and so enable the Council to achieve level three of the equality standard.
5.3 The review team considered three options to deliver these outcomes and based on the presentation to this committee on 14 February 2005 have prepared an improvement plan on the second option - to revise the current structure.
5.4 The review team has also concluded that there is a need to identify funding to support projects which are essential to achieving improvement in the Council's approach to equality and diversity. A key element in the improvement plan is action to identify the scope of the projects and the resources required to deliver them.
6.1 The following members participated in the review, allocating a total of 12 hours:
· Cllr Pat West
· Cllr Ludlow
· Cllr Wheeler
7.1 It was estimated that the direct costs of this review would be £7,000 The actual costs were £1,406.
7.2 The review took 54 officer days to complete at a cost of £7740.
1 The attached outcome report and improvement plan be agreed as representing the views of this Scrutiny and Select Committee
2 Cabinet are advised of the outcome of the Best Value review so that they can implement the improvement plan
3 Arrangements are made for this committee to receive annual progress reports until the improvement plan is completed
4 A summary of the review is prepared in the standard format for inclusion in the Performance Plan.
5 The Scrutiny and Select Committee nominates Member(s) who will be involved in overseeing the implementation of the Improvement Plan
Section 100D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers
The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
Equality and Diversity Best Value Review Working File
Held by the Equality and Diversity Manager
N.B. The list excludes:
1. Published works
2. Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.