Overall aim of today’s session:To bring delegates up to date with recent developments inthe discrimination advice sector.Session Objectives:By the end of this 1.5hr session, delegates will:Become informed of developments in discriminationadvice provision;Be able to analyse the impact of the developments fortheir advice service and clients;Develop plans to meet gaps as relevant to their service
Order of sessionContext and backgroundCurrent situation - includingsignificant developmentsThe future?
Context & BackgroundPreviously, discrimination advice was funded through:EHRC - legal grants & S28 for strategic cases – over 70agencies funded across UKLegal Aid – General help & casework onlyLocal Authority – some level of availability London Councils – Employment contractsTrusts and charitable sector funding
The current situationChange in govt has resulted in new proposals and approaches –ideological shift. Wider reforms and Red tape. Reduction.Equality Act 2010 – repeals and changes to ActEHRC powers reduced and budget significantly reducedQuestionnaire procedure to go?EHRC grants ceased march 2012LASPOA 2012 was passed with very minor amendments from theoriginal proposalsLondon Councils – consultation presently ongoingLocal Authority – reduced level of fundingBig Lottery – Advice Services Fund
The Future?From Sept 2012, GEO national discrimination helplineservice – replaces EHRC helplineNon legal enquiries onlyMove away from litigation towards conciliation,arbitration and negotiation to resolve disc issuesTemplates of legal documents made available on GEOwebsite for self litigantsLCF will co-ordinate referrals for casework andrepresentation from the helpline service
Other relevant developmentsBusiness & Enterprise Regulatory Reform Bill –Main proposals include:Introduction of tribunal feesRemoval of tribunal powers to make widerrecommendationsJudges only sitting on EAT cases
The FutureLegal Aid & discrimination fromApril 2013Employment out of scopeCompulsory telephone gatewayDiscrimination will be low volume
The FutureLondon CouncilsConsultation currently taking placeon criteria – priorities identified asHomelessness, Domestic violence and2nd tier support.
ImplicationsFor advice services:Better referral and signposting for discriminationUp to date information services for legal advice andrepresentationPick up discrimination through other subject areasUse European and Human Rights Law where possibleLook to international sources of funding such as EUMonitor and keep track of unmet needsIncrease awareness raising and PLE
Increase our knowledge and understanding of Public Sector Equality Duties so that we may use them more effectively at a tool, at the early stage of decision making rather than in challenging decisions once they have been taken by the public body.
Implications for clientsIncreased awareness of discriminationand legal rights – to better challenge atsourceCompetence and skills to effectively useexisting complaints proceduresRaise awareness of others
Flora WilliamsEquality & Diversity Manager Law Centres Network 020 7842 0735 or 0759 0050 898 Flora@lawcentres.org.uk