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Acevo chair: equality debate ‘must move on from bra-burning’

If women in the voluntary sector are to achieve equality of pay and opportunity, the debate needs to move on from the “old-fashioned bra-burning era” and focus on skills, according to Acevo chair Lesley-Anne Alexander.

Alexander (pictured) made the comment during a panel discussion hosted by Bates Wells and Braithwaite yesterday to launch Rowena Lewis’s report on women leaders in the sector. Close to Parity: challenging the voluntary sector to smash the glass ceiling is the culmination of Lewis’s work as a 2010 Clore Social Fellow. (more…)

Impact group: charities could allocate percentage of funding for impact measurement

The Inspiring Impact Group, a coalition of voluntary sector bodies seeking to provide collective leadership on measuring impact over the next 10 years, is considering encouraging funders to allocate at least 5 per cent of funding to evaluation and measurement.

The group, which includes NCVO, Acevo and Charities Evaluation Services (CES), met for the first time this month. Andy Gregg, chief executive of CES, said the group was thinking about encouraging funders to make sure 5 – 10 per cent of their funding is spent on the evaluation and measurement of that funding.   (more…)

Is Clegg’s tax threshold plan the best way to reduce income inequality?

‘Nick Clegg’s call today to speed up the process of raising the tax threshold to £10,000 will lift one million people out of income tax. Clegg aims to reduce the UK’s excessive levels of income inequality, which should be welcomed, but there has always been controversy about whether this proposal is the best way to achieve that aim.’

To read the full article by Shelly Asquith of One Society, please visit the Left Foot Forward website.

Do you measure your impact or your outputs? Should you really consider your outcomes?

Funders, commissioners and others often use concepts and terms from the language of planning, project management and performance improvement in different ways. This has led to widespread confusion about what particular terms mean and how to use them most appropriately. is a brand new website from Charities Evaluation Services (CES) and the Jargonbuster group. It is dedicated to providing clear and simple definitions of the key terms usually used to describe what organisations are doing and the difference their work is making. (more…)

DWP: Draft Occupational Pension Schemes and Pension Protection Fund (Equality) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 – A consultation

This consultation concerns amendments to the Equality Act 2010 and the Pensions Act 2004 to reflect development in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. These developments in European law mean that, where a pension scheme is equalising its benefits as between men and women, it has to assume a notional comparator where the inequality is a result of the Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) provisions in the Pension Schemes Act 1993. (more…)

Government policies undermine equalities work, new research reveals

Voluntary Sector North West has recently published research undertaken by CLES and partners at the Centre for Local Policy Studies exploring the impact of emerging government policies upon equalities issues in the North West. The research has found that:

  1. Reforms have come at a cost
  2. New forms of representation are weak and exclude equalities groups
  3. Spending cuts are damaging voluntary sector capacity to deliver big society
  4. The new policy framework is liable to reinstate old patterns of exclusion and discrimination
  5. Implementation is disproportionately harming the most excluded
  6. The capacity of equalities groups to participate and hold public bodies to account is heading towards a point of critical failure. (more…)

Equality in social care practice: still a long way to go

After improvements in local government training and recruitment, why aren’t there more BME social workers?

[Source: Roger Kline - The Guardian]

Like many readers, my heart leapt when I saw that Stephen Lawrence’s killers had been found guilty. The family’s campaign for justice, and the McPherson Inquiry they prompted, have changed forever how we treat racism. 

We should welcome that progress. But a serious look at social work suggests we still have a long way to go before we have a level playing field for black and minority social workers – let alone service users. 

Equality is at the heart of social work practice; it is embedded in the GSCC Code of Practice, and in the training of social workers, as well as in the primary legislation that guides social work, including the Children Act 1989, Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998. 

It is widely accepted that good practice is more likely if the workforce itself is reflective of the service users or wider population, and is treated in employment in ways that demonstrate a commitment to equality. 

Selection and training of social workers 

The disadvantage faced by BME pupils prior to reaching HE is well recorded. Ethnic minority students experience less favourable outcomes in respect of offers, attrition and progression rates (including drop out and deferrals).

Just one British black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year. As David Lammy writes: “That is not a misprint: one student. Merton College, Oxford, has not admitted a single black student for five years. At Robinson College, Cambridge, a white applicant is four times more likely to be successful than a black applicant.” 

The Ethnicity, Gender and Degree Attainment Project concluded that race was a significant contributor to degree attainment, a finding confirmed by King’s College London’s report Variations in Progression of Social Work Students in England.

The employment and treatment of social workers

The NHS has long recognised the significance of race in employment, with comprehensive data suggesting there is systematic discrimination in shortlisting, appointment, promotion, treatment and (inevitably, therefore) occupational and grading stratification. 

There is no similar data for social workers, even though local authorities have been required, as part of their statutory equality duty, to monitor some aspects of equality within employment. 

One source of data is the Local Government Earnings Survey 2010/11, which found that 8.2% of the local government workforce in England and Wales were from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, but only 2% of top earners. While some councils are working hard to improve matters, the majority are not. Anecdotally, the number of senior social work managers from BME backgrounds is relatively small. 

As a trade union official, I request figures from time to time from the equality monitoring data for individual councils. The limited local data I have had access to shows three trends. 

Firstly, there is an “ethnic employment pyramid that concentrates BME staff in lower grades. In the NHS, BME staff are screened out at the shortlisting and interview stages of recruitment and the limited data I have suggests a similar pattern in social work. 

Secondly, where BME staff were investigated under disciplinary procedures they were more likely than other staff to proceed to a hearing, receive a first written warning, receive a final written warning or to be dismissed. 

Thirdly, BME staff are disproportionately more likely to be referred to the General Social Care Council (GSCC) than other staff. It is not possible to draw precise conclusions as to why this is, since until recently there was no systematic analysis of whether ethnic origin is a factor in GSCC conduct proceedings. 

Justice at last for the Lawrence family is brilliant, and we have made real progress in this country in the past two decades on the workplace treatment of BME staff. But we still have a long way to go.

Thirty NGOs call for protection for legal aid

In January 2012, the chief executives and directors of more than 30 non-governmental organisations, including the Equality and Diversity Forum, wrote to The Times asking that legal aid be protected where it matters most — ‘to people on low incomes struggling with complex and serious problems, unable to resolve them without specialist help’.

Please read the letter that was sent to The Times.



[Source: EDF]

Bob Neill gives more councils the go-ahead to tackle historic pay inequalities

Communities Minister Bob Neill has today given more councils the go-ahead to tackle historic pay inequalities.

Thousands of local government employees – mostly women on low pay – are legally entitled to backdated pay following years of being paid less for doing equally valued jobs. Equal pay directions enable local authorities to settle their equal pay commitments over an affordable period of time by raising money on their assets. (more…)

Eric Pickles: Start of a ‘Year of Service’ celebrating faith inspired local volunteering

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced that throughout 2012, faith communities will lead a series of volunteering days encouraging communities to come together to help improve their local neighbourhoods.

Recognising the role of faith in inspiring charitable work, the Department for Communities and Local Government is supporting a Year of Service. During the course of 2012, nine faith communities will in turn hold volunteering days, inviting people of other faiths and people of non-religious beliefs to join in. Each of the days will focus on a different social action theme, such as ‘community clean ups’, planting trees in a local park, or cooking lunches and could be based around an existing religious festival like Lent or the Sikh festival commemorating the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, or an existing volunteering day such as the Jewish-led Mitzvah Day or the Hindu-led National Sewa Day.  (more…)