• Leaders Leaders should regularly and publicly communicate, with all stakeholders, the public authority’s commitment to the Section 75 goals of equality of opportunity and good relations, the benefits of the Section 75 duties in supporting good policy development and the potential positive impacts on people’s lives.
• Leaders should regularly communicate within the public authority the importance of all aspects of the implementation of the Section 75 duties including the gathering and use of Section 75 monitoring data, the undertaking of equality assessments (screening and Equality Impact Assessments (EQIA)) and as appropriate the undertaking of consultation exercises.
• Leaders should ensure that all policymakers, across all the functions of a public authority, engage effectively with the Section 75 duties. Leaders should review quarterly screening reports and draft annual reports and consider the adequacy of these, ensuring that practices are challenged, as appropriate.
• The ‘equality function’ of the organisation, whether that is a dedicated equality officer or part of another officer’s role, should be actively supported by leadership of the public authority. It is important that equality officers are enabled to provide an advice role to policymakers, a quality assurance role and an internal challenge function, where assessments may not be adequate.
• There may be circumstances whereby a number of public authorities have responsibility for a policy or one has responsibility for developing the policy proposal and the other has a role in the implementation of that policy. Both organisations may have responsibilities to equality assess that policy under Section 75.
• Public authorities should share information and work collaboratively with other public authorities that may have some responsibility with regard to the policy being developed or implemented.
- For further information see our Short Guide to Screening and EQIA (pdf)
• A public authority’s equality scheme sets out its commitments in regard to consultation on equality assessments (Screening and Equality Impact Assessments EQIA). Leaders should ensure these commitments are understood and adhered to by all policymakers within the organisation.
Where consultation is appropriate, as per scheme commitments it is important that:
• Effective consultation with affected individuals and representative groups should begin as early as possible.
• Information should be made available to ensure meaningful consultation, including detailed information on the policy proposal being consulted upon and any relevant quantitative and qualitative data.
• Where equality screening identifies gaps in information, measures should be taken to obtain appropriate information, which may include effective engagement and consultation with those affected, on the equality impacts of proposed policies.
• Leaders should encourage a culture of open and meaningful consultation and ensure that consultee feedback is appropriately considered as part of the decision-making process. Clear feedback should be provided to consultees in published equality assessment documents and these documents should set out what changes have been made to the policy, as a result of the assessment.
- For further information on consultation and Section 75 – see Chapter 7 of our Section 75 Guide for Public Authorities (pdf)
• Senior leaders should ensure that there is transparency of the public authority’s equality considerations of proposed policies and that its equality scheme commitments are continuously fulfilled, in this regard.
This involves the timely publishing of screening and EQIA exercises, screening reports and monitoring information. All of this information should be published in an open, timely and transparent manner, as per scheme commitments. This timely recording of this information, will assist a public authority to demonstrate that it has paid the appropriate level of regard, when making decisions.