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Creating a Comprehensive Library Service - Getting the Equality Duty Right (Sept 2013)

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Creating a Comprehensive Library Service - Getting the Equality Duty Right (Sept 2013)

  1. 1. Creating a comprehensive library service – getting the equality duty right SUE CHARTERIS for Local Government Association SEPTEMBER 2013
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. A service in transition  Core purpose of service recently restated by ACE  Role of libraries in building a strong local economy  Financial pressures :‘comprehensive and efficient’  Communities adjusting to digital world – at differing paces  Local solutions with some common patterns emerging  Service integration, commissioning, community partnering, some mutuals/commercial providers  Service changes under critical gaze  Staff concerns re risks of job substitution
  4. 4. Some common questions:  Do we have to consult specifically on changes to the library service if we have already done a comprehensive budget consultation?  Given localism, what is the role of the Secretary of State in determining what is a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ public library service’?  If we decide to work more closely with potential community providers do we have to spell out what we think is our statutory duty and what is discretionary?  If we externalise the service whose responsibility is it to consult communities on any future service changes?
  5. 5. Navigating the hybrid legal framework  Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964  The Best Value Duty- 2011 guidance  Localism Act 2011  Equality Act 2010 – S.149 Public Sector Equality Duty  Judicial Reviews:  Courts understand council’s obligations to make savings to balance the books. But, getting both the equality duty and best value duties right are proving key to sound decisions
  6. 6. Click to edit Master title style  Click to edit Master text styles  Second level  Third level  Fourth level  Fifth level
  7. 7. Learning from Judicial reviews 1:  The courts will examine the process you have gone through  Clearly document all factors in your considerations  The equality duty requires you to ‘have regard to the needs of protected groups’(which may be different)…’ so,this will require a thorough needs assessment  Duty needs to be addressed throughout, and be ‘embedded in the process’- with substance and rigour  Lawyers describe this as ‘ directing the mind’ to … It’s not enough to act on your experience, inherent local knowledge and ‘nous’
  8. 8. Learning from Judicial reviews 2:  Do a thorough analysis of local need- do not ‘assume’ Consultation needs to be:  ‘At a time when proposals are still at a formative stage  The proposer must give sufficient reasons for any proposal to enable intelligent consideration and response  Adequate time must be given for consideration and response  The product of consultation must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising any proposals’ Brent LBC ex parte Gunning (1985) 84 LGR 168
  9. 9. In applying the equality duty 1  Consider the potential impact of changes on all protected groups, but not to the point of being over – literal ( Brent judgement) Worked Example:  Lambeth Council’s Libraries Commission was provided with evidence on:  Usage analysed by race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation per catchment area  The council used this data and an analysis of borough wide needs to do an analysis of comparative geographic need to best ‘ understand the implications of any relocation of library facilities on vulnerable communities within Lambeth
  10. 10. In applying the equality duty 2  The 9 data sets used by Lambeth were:  GCSE attainment  Indices of multiple deprivation, heath domain data etc aggregated to ward level  IMD crime data  Perception data including satisfaction with the local area as a place to live and percentage of people getting on well with one another  Unemployment rates at ward level  Free school meals  Accessibility of the ward- analysed by public transport Clearly in many areas rurality and broadband coverage would be big considerations
  11. 11. Practical learning from councils’ experience 1  Develop a library strategy that includes  A clear vision for your library service  What you want the service to achieve  How you propose to deliver? taking into account:  How well it meets local needs, both now and in the future, drawing on documented evidence you hold locally*, as well as members and officers’ local knowledge,  Equality impact assess your proposals and the impact on all ‘protected groups’ specified in the Act and also use this combined evidence to think about:
  12. 12. Click to edit Master title style  Click to edit Master text styles  Second level  Third level  Fourth level  Fifth level
  13. 13. Practical learning from councils’ experience 2  Whether there may be better ways of meeting local needs, including those in your most disadvantaged communities, bearing in mind the £ and staff capacity available, then,  Having considered what you need to do to meet your statutory requirements;  Inform communities and consult widely on options and on specific opportunities  Give time for communities to generate (alternative or complementary)proposals  Involve staff and trades unions in generating options
  14. 14. Practical learning from councils’ experience 3  Stay on the front foot in communicating – being prepared to adapt your proposals in the light of feedback is key to securing genuine consultation and involvement  Build this into your timescale for change, recognising the need for a period of transition.
  15. 15. Thank you! suecharteris@equalvalue.org
  16. 16. Sources of information  ACE: Envisioning the Future of the Library Service  http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/pdf/The_library_of _the_future_May_2013.pdf  ACE: Community Libraries  http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/pdf/Community_li braries_research_2013_guiding_principles.pdf  LGA: Local Solutions for Public Libraries Services  http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/publications/- /journal_content/56/10171/3639438/PUBLICATIONTEMPLATE  Public Libraries News:http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com
  17. 17. Reading and sources of support  Envisioning the Future of the Libraries Service  Community Libraries  LGA Practice site  LGA document 2011?

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