Equalities & Inclusion

Suffolk County Council is committed to bringing people and services together in Suffolk by providing services that are fair and accessible for everyone.

The new laws require us to take an even more pro-active approach to equalities & inclusion. We also have a responsibility to ensure that our partners, companies and organisations we commission, to provide services on our behalf, take the same positive approach to equality.

How we deliver Equalities and Inclusion (PDF, 568Kb)

The Equality Act 2010

Most of the provisions of the new Equality Act came in to force in October 2010. The new public equality duty in section 149 of the Act was brought into effect on 6 April 2011. Other provisions will be coming in at later dates to allow people and organisations time to prepare for the changes. It will bring about a single legal framework, providing clearer, streamlined law that is more effective at tackling disadvantage and discrimination.

Further Guidance is available on what you need to know about the Equality Act.

Protected Characteristics

  • Discrimination law protects us from being treated less favourably because of certain characteristics. These are known as protected characteristics:
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief
  • Sexual Orientation

The Act specifies the circumstances in which each of the relevant protected characteristics apply.

Public Sector Equality Duty

The Council is covered by the general equality duty that requires public bodies in the exercise of its functions to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The Act further explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves:

  • Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics.
  • Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.
  • Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.

The Act also states that meeting different needs involves taking steps to take account of disabled people’s disabilities. It describes fostering good relations as tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people from different groups. It states that compliance with the duty may involve treating some people more favourably than others.

Government expects public bodies to be held to account through greater transparency and challenge from the public for the equality improvements they deliver, not the processes they go through. Specific duties are being developed which will set out a range of information required to be published to show how the Council meets the general duty.

Impact Assessments

This is the process whereby a proposed or existing policy or strategy is analysed to identify what effect, or likely effect, will follow for different groups in the community.

Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) aim to ensure that as far as possible any negative consequences for a particular group or sector of the community are identified and eliminated, minimised or counterbalanced by other measures. In brief, EIAs are helping us to:

  • achieve better results generally;
  • identify actual and potential inequalities; and
  • respond appropriately to these inequalities.

We undertake EIAs at the planning stage of new policies and procedures, and when they are reviewed or changed. Our EIAs must be accessible to the public so you can use the advanced search of our Policies and Procedures database to search for relevant EIA's 

What is in the section

Equalities & Inclusion: Our commitment to you

We are committed to ensuring that our staff and communities are treated fairly and have access to all the services that we provide.

Continue reading Equalities & Inclusion: Our commitment to you…