Example 1: Eliminating discrimination
EIA leads to changes in taxi licensing services, increased driver safety, and better relations with drivers.
A review of feedback and complaints to the taxi and private hire licensing service of Bristol City Council identified a number of complaints from drivers who felt that they were not being treated fairly by the Council. The majority of drivers were from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. It became clear there was a need for better communication with BAME drivers and awareness-raising among drivers about the regulatory framework governing the trade.
An analysis of the data revealed that there had been significant changes over the years in those applying for licenses: from white working class men to BAME drivers, many of whom speak English as a second language. Officers realised they needed to be pro-active in explaining the rules and regulations regarding taxi/private hire licensing, recognising that BAME drivers, in particular, were less likely to have access to this information through family/trade connections.
Enforcement action against drivers brought before the Public Protection Committee negatively affected the drivers’ perception of the Council, yet drivers needed to understand why the breaches had occurred and what their individual responsibilities were.
The policy was revised as a result of the equality impact assessment to emphasise promotion and prevention. This led to the following actions:
- Accessible information was produced on rules and regulations
- Equality and diversity training was delivered for the Public Protection Committee members and enforcement officers.
- Ethnic monitoring of drivers was introduced.
- Improved support was provided for drivers who experienced racial harassment.
The service now reports fewer enforcement actions and there is increased trust from drivers. If they do come before the Committee, most drivers now accept that it is on the basis of sound evidence.
Example 2: Promoting equality of opportunity
EIA helps fire service encourage applications from across the local community.
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service recruits fire fighters once a year. The recruitment process has a number of stages – a written application, psychometric tests, physical tests, a medical, and an interview – and it can take up to six months.
The service carried out equality monitoring to identify patterns of progress through the recruitment process. This enabled the service to identify barriers to progress at each stage and to explore what can be done to redress them. For example, women disproportionately fail on upper body strength, and Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) recruits disproportionately fail on written tests.
As a result of this review, the service now holds ‘positive action days’ before recruitment starts. On these days, potential recruits can test their strength and use simulators to experience working at height and in confined spaces. They have a chance to see and try out some of the written work that is involved. The focus of the day is to inspire and encourage applications. Some candidates will go away determined to build up strength to apply at a later date; others will be less stressed by the required written work after having had a chance to see what is involved. Others will understand that the service is not for them. These actions are constantly under review to ensure improved diversity amongst fire fighters in the service.
Example 3: Fostering good relations
Metropolitan Police use equality impact assessments to improve community relations during sensitive operations.
While considering its response to growing knife crime, the Met carried out an equality impact assessment which identified a high probable impact on Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities of any action they might take. It was also aware that members of these communities were keen to see action taken. The impact assessment led to the development of an improved strategy to manage relations between officers and the community. This included:
- Increased community engagement and involvement in operational activities.
- Members of the local community being part of street operations, leafleting, listening to local people, explaining police procedures.
- Specific training for operational staff to improve the experience of stop and search for all concerned.
It was particularly important to ensure those questioned felt they were being treated with respect and also that they understood the reasons for the police action.
Example 4: Wider range of meals means more happy eaters
One local authority found a recipe for success over its meals on wheels service.
The authority was concerned that the food it was serving up wasn’t to everybody’s taste. So it used an equality impact assessment to find out why.
The authority discovered that in certain ethnic minority communities, only a few people were tucking in. The authority decided to change the menu to ensure that these diners had a range of different types of meals more likely to appeal to choose from.
Soon there were many more ‘happy eaters’ among these communities, while ‘white British’ users were also delighted at the improved choice and quality of the food. In this way the authority not only improved its service but saved money as well.
Example 5: Job losses reveal imbalance
Redundancies were on the cards when the London Probation Service held a major organisational review.
EIAs early on looked at equality in relation to senior, administrative, and corporate centre staff. Both assessments concluded there might be a negative impact on women, Black, and older people.
Fewer jobs would be available, particularly at senior management level. Many older staff had been in post for a number of years and had no recent experience of job applications and interview.
A programme of support for all staff focused on briefings about the assessment centre process as well as job application and interview techniques.
Those who weren’t successful received further help on developing CVs and careers advice.
A review of the recruitment process for senior staff following the restructure revealed an increase in Black senior managers. There was also no negative impact on women or disabled staff.
A more equal balance had been achieved between women and men within the admin ranks. The assessment process has given the service a deeper understanding of the workforce, and this will be monitored regularly.
The assessment found potential disadvantages, but these were reduced or removed through training. The service continued with its policy and reacted proportionately in reducing disadvantage.
UNISON Case Examples
Case 1: EIA leads to a change in policy
An authority proposed to reduce its waiting list for social housing by writing to everyone on the list and asking them to confirm that they still needed housing. Anyone who did not reply within a set time frame would be removed from the list. The EIA highlighted that people with learning difficulties, people with some mental health problems, and people who did not have English as a first language might not be able to respond to the letter in time and the policy was amended.
Case 2: Impact of a limited EIA
A local authority was proposing to cut funding to a women’s organisation to provide English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. The EIA argued that there were other organisations providing classes that the women could attend. There was no evidence of consultation with women accessing the service. This would have revealed that some women would only attend women-only sessions for religious and cultural reasons. In addition the women’s organisation also provided childcare on site, which other organisations did not offer. The impact assessment failed to recognise that this meant a significant number of women would not be able to access ESOL classes at all.
Case 3: Public Sector Equality Duty in action: R (Rahman) v Birmingham City Council
The courts found that Birmingham City Council had failed to have due regard to equality when ending funding for legal advice services delivered by three voluntary sector organisations. Although an impact assessment had been carried out this was not included in the documents sent to councillors who were making the final decision. After a legal challenge against the decision was lodged, councillors were presented with the impact assessment and repeated their decision to cut funding. However courts ruled that the impact assessment was flawed because it did not focus on the disadvantage to users if the service was cut and was not based on proper consultation. Councillors could not rely on a flawed EIA as evidence that they had due regard to equality.