The absurdity of "Equalities Impact Assessments" has been chronicled at the Systems Thinking for Girls blog – by someone who used to write dozens of them.
Following the Prime Minister speech to the CBI, the Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has sent guidance to councils to scrap them.
Mr Lewis says:
The Government Equalities Office has given clear guidance to Whitehall departments that Equality Impact Assessments are not and have never been a legal requirement. Indeed, they can be resource intensive and take staff away from planning and delivering important public services.
This advice applies to other parts of the public sector. Local councils should be able to use their judgment to pay due regard to equality without resorting to time consuming, bureaucratic, tick-box exercises at the end of the decision-making process.
The key is to take a proportionate, timely approach to assessing equality and that this is properly considered from the outset with a simple audit trail.
This approach builds on our Best Value guidance released in September 2011 in which councils are asked to ensure that their policies and services are efficient, effective, appropriate and accessible to all – without resorting to unnecessary lifestyle or ‘diversity’ questionnaires of their local residents and suppliers.
Every bit of the public sector is seeking to reduce administrative costs; I hope this light-touch guidance will helpful in reducing statutory burdens on local government.
Any council contemplating cutting services for the vulnerable, or putting up the Council Tax on their hard pressed residents, should first ensure that the message from Mr Lewis is heeded. Intrusive monitoring forms asking about religion, sexual orientation or ethnic group are not required. Nor are fatuous Equalities Impact Assessments. That is where the axe should fall.