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Single equalities body a 'dead duck' as disabilities group say no to merger

by Lester Holloway
25/9/2004

GOVERNMENT PLANS to merge all equalities subjects together into one body looked dead in the water as the Disability Rights Commission rejected the proposals. The move comes after Trevor Phillips had earlier given it the thumbs down

Quicksand: DRC chairman Bert Massie
Quicksand: DRC chairman Bert Massie

Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) said he was prepared to “do a Trevor” and walk away from the single equalities body.

The shock move followed the decision of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and its' chair Trevor Phillips to 'unequivocally reject’ plans to merge race with sexual orientation, age, gender, human rights, religion, and disabilities.

Massie's comments present a new headache for trade secretary Patricia Hewitt, who is watching one of her key policies crumble as one group after another walk away. Critics are now urging the government to scrap their plans and start again.

Massie said: “They are building this new body on quicksand. It should not go ahead in its' present form because it will not work unless disabled people are able to have maximum input into determining their own agenda.”

 - quote - So many parts are falling off this vehicle it's time the government took this banger to the scrapyard. We're not going to buy it!  - unquote -
Karen Chouhan – The 1990 Trust

In July Phillips described proposals for a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) as “the wrong proposal at the wrong time.”

soft-focus

A government source said: “This would never have happened if the process had been handled by the Home Office rather than the DTI.

“There would have been a sensitivity about respecting the experiences and history of different equalities groups.”

The single equalities body plans have been hit by a number of major criticisms. Critics said the lack of 'stranding' meant all seven equalities subjects would come together in one “equalities mush” without seperate departments or committees for different areas.

Sign language: Trevor Phillips is joined by the Massie in the 'no' corner
Sign language: Trevor Phillips is joined by the Massie in the 'no' corner

Criticism has centred on the failure of the government to offer any 'value added' to enhance existing anti-discrimination laws.

There is also disquiet about the emphasis on soft-focus promotion of community cohesion at the exclusion of enforcement, and that the DTI's Fairness for All White Paper actually proposes reductions in enforcement powers.

It is rumoured that Hewitt has not been able to secure any additional cash for the project from the Treasury, and that the single equalities body would have a budget of £40m, a figure currently shared between the existing CRE, DRC and Equal Opportunities Commission (EoC).

Speaking to The Times, Massie said: “One thing that disabled people have fought for since the 1970's is to control our own affairs – nothing about us, without us. We experience the discrimination, we know what needs doing. We are not keen on handling over to a group of people who don't know anything about us or about disability.”

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Resources:

Teeth and their use

Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: One year On

The Zahid Mubarek Inquiry

pdf Dept. for Communities & Local Government Citizenship Survey

Responses to the Equalities Review Interim Report

The 1990 Trust Response to The Equalities Review Interim Report

Equalities Review Interim Report Briefing – Addressing Race Equality

pdf Our Rights, Our Future

pdf Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: The Government's race strategy

CRE response to DTI Statement on Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Equality and Diversity Forum welcomes the progress on a Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Summary of Changes to the CEHR

The 1990 Trust’s response to the CEHR White Paper

pdf Delivering equality and human rights for black and minority ethnic communities

Flush the academic racism in Blunkett’s office down the pan

Jacqui Smith answers questions on the Single Equalities Body

How to Contact your MP

Links:

Race and Faith and Communities

Election Memory

Catalyst Magazine

UNITE TO PROTECT OUR RIGHTS: sign the statement against the erosion of civil liberties and human rights by new anti-terrorism proposals A Black Manifesto No 2 ID FREE FAROUQ PDP ASSOCIATES Power to the People

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