Work and Pensions Committee Press Notice

23 October 2008: For Immediate Release

Select Committee to inquire into the Equality Bill: What steps should DWP take to achieve greater equality?

The Work and Pensions Committee today announced an inquiry "The Equality Bill: What steps should DWP take to achieve greater equality?" The Committee welcomes submissions, in accordance with the guidelines set out below, with particular reference to the following key areas:

The Government made a commitment in its 2005 General Election manifesto to introduce an Equality Act in this Parliament to modernise and simplify equality legislation. In June 2008 the Government published "A Framework for a fairer Future - The Equality Bill". This document sets out the Government's decisions on the measures it will include in the Equality Bill. The inquiry is to evaluate the effectiveness of current equality legislation and proposals in the Equality Bill in the following key areas:

€ Equality in Employment. How effective has DWP been in achieving equality in employment, how would it have to change to achieve greater equality in employment? How can the Equality Bill open up opportunities in employment, particularly for disabled people, carers and pensioners? How should the Equality Bill respond to the decision in the Malcolm case in respect of disability rights in employment? How should the Government improve protection of carers in equality legislation, following the decision in the Coleman case?

€ Equality in Goods, Facilities and Services. How could the duties in Goods, Facilities and Services of the DDA be built on to deliver systemic change? What is the draft EU Directive in GFS proposing and what are the implications for transposition of a new EU Directive for UK law? Is the draft EU directive welcomed? Does the Equality Bill incorporate the provisions of the draft directive? How can it be made easier for disabled people, carers and pensioners to bring and pursue cases in GFS? Should discrimination by association extend to GFS? What are the implications of the Malcolm case and how should the Equality Bill take these into account? How effective are the provisions in part 3 of the DDA on buying, selling and letting?

€ The Public Sector Equality Duty. How could a Disability Equality Duty in the public sector be built upon within a Single Equality Duty? Is a Single Duty desirable? Will there be unintended consequences for disabled people or disability rights? Has the Disability Equality Duty been effective in promoting equality in the public sector, including local government? What is the evidence in the DWP Secretary of State's report on the success of the Duty in his department? How does the Department fare in promoting equality and tackling discrimination? How is success measured and what are the challenges around monitoring and self-declaration of disabilities and caring responsibilities? How could procurement be made a more effective lever for equality outcomes? What are the good practice examples in the public, private and voluntary sectors? How can guidance on procurement improve at EU and national level to make procurement a more effective lever for equality outcomes?

€ Private Sector commitment and support, guidance, advice and information for employers. Is an Equality Duty on the Private Sector workable? What can be done in the realm of light-touch regulations, guidance and advice to promote a culture change in the private sector for all those subject to discrimination? What more could be done to support SMEs to achieve greater equality for disabled people? How can the Access to Work scheme better enable people to obtain, stay and progress in work? What impact has there been on disabled people's entry to and progress in employment in central government departments since the Access to Work scheme was withdrawn? What would be the impact if the withdrawal was extended across the public sector? How can Access to Work better support people with mental illness and fluctuating illnesses? To what extent can Access to Work be included within Individualised Budgets?

€ Single Equality Act. How does Disability fit in a single Equality Act? Should the 'social model', or 'medical model' apply for disability? What is the role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission within the single Equality Act? What is the role of the Office for Disability issues within the single Equality Act?

The Committee seeks written contributions on this issue from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for written evidence is Wednesday 26th November 2008. Oral evidence sessions will take place in the new year.

Please note

Each submission should:

€ begin with a short summary in bullet point form;

€ have numbered paragraphs; and

€ be in Word format with no use of colour/logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to workpencom@parliament.uk and marked 'Equality Bill inquiry'. If you do not have access to email, a paper copy should be sent to:

Hannah van Schijndel, Work and Pensions Select Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at: http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

Please also note that:

€ Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

€ Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless specifically authorised.

€ Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.