Using equalities’ guidance to assess need: Implications for change in public libraries

 

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DCLG, Brandon Lewis M.P. has recently issued  ‘light touch’ guidance to local government Leaders and Chief Executives on how they can dispense with the rigmarole of equality impact assessments.  Several people have asked me what does this mean for sound decision making around public libraries, given the focus that equalities has played in many judicial review decisions. My take on this is simple: councils still have to demonstrate that they have assessed local need in deciding what is a ‘comprehensive and efficient service’ to comply with the Public Libraries Legislation. What’s more, the Equality Act remains on the statute book, so councils have to demonstrate how they have ‘had regard to’ equality considerations.  I quote the Minister himself in Para 3 of his guidance note:  ‘the key is to take a proportionate timely approach to assessing equality and that this is properly considered at the outset with a clear audit trail’.  So, no change in the advice really, but watch this space.

 

 

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