What is an Equality Scheme?
Most public authorities operating in Northern Ireland are required to submit an equality scheme to the Equality Commission. This is a statement of the public authority’s commitment to fulfilling its Section 75 statutory duties, setting out how they are going to ensure that equality and good relations are promoted in everything they do. This should include procedures for measuring performance.
Each equality scheme must outline the public authority’s arrangements for:
- assessing its compliance with Section 75 statutory duties
- assessing and consulting on the likely impact of internal policies (relating to people who work for the organisation), as well as external policies (relating to those who are, or could be, served by the organisation)
- monitoring any adverse impact of policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity and how they will consult with those likely to be affected by them (known as screening)
- publishing the results of such assessments
- ensuring and assessing public access to information and services provided by the public authority
The Commission recommends that public authorities should include a commitment to conducting an annual review of progress, by 31 August each year, on the implementation of their equality scheme, including progress on delivery of actions they have identified to promote equality of opportunity and good relations. This will assist leaders in public authorities assessing their organisation’s progress in relation to the Section 75 statutory duties.