|Karen Chouhan: improvements
Trade minister Jacqui Smith will publish the new Equality Bill tomorrow morning, introducing a Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR).
Karen Chouhan, chief executive of The 1990 Trust, has led criticism of the proposals, but now believes ministers have gone some way to improving their plans.
The Equality Bill improves CEHR's enforcement powers, and recognises that the new body needs to support individual victims of discrimination rather than just test cases.
There are also improvements to the internal structure of the new body, recognising that different equalities subjects need individually-tailored approaches.
|Government has recognised that different types of discrimination need tailor-made strategies. But they have not moved far enough.
Chouhan remains concerned at the lack of a guarantee over resources, and is calling for the need to ring-fence a race equality budget and black representation on the CEHR board.
She said: “The Equality Bill is a massive improvement on the White Paper proposals.
“But we still require reassurances that race equality will not suffer a reduction in powers and resources.
“We are pleased the government has listened to our criticisms and those of Black communities. As government proposals have changed so much since the White Paper, we hope the government will now give Black communities a new opportunity to comment on the Bill.
“The government has moved some way to recognising that different types of discrimination need tailor-made strategies for tackling the problem. But it has not moved far enough. We want to a CEHR race committee and a black person represented on the board.”
This is a recognition of our ‘stranding’ proposals. The 1990 Trust were highly critical of the White Paper approach lumping seven equalities into one big ‘equalities mush’.
The 1990 Trust believe that the need for a equalities law to underpin the CEHR is stronger than ever, and is pleased that the government has now formally recognised the need for such a law.
Black communities responded to the governments' White Paper 'fairness for all' in record numbers. The 1990 Trust organised a series of regional consultation events attended by over 400 black organisations across Britain.
Most opposed the proposals. The 1990 Trust believes black communities now need to have their say on the new Equality Bill in order for the new single equalities body to have grassroots credibility.
Chouhan warned that without adequate resources any gains are worthless, and are calling for the government to guarantee a minimum level of funding for the new body.
She said the proposed enforcement powers for equalities laws should encompass the private sector as well as public sector.
Chouhan welcomed proposals to extend individual casework beyond a tiny number of test cases, but believe that if the CEHR is to effectively help victims of discrimination it needs adequate resources.