Sunday 10 April 2011

Red Tape Challenge

The government is currently running a "Red Tape Challenge" to "fight back and cut red tape."

On the about page of the "challenge" it says:

Good regulation is a good thing. It protects consumers, employees and the environment, it helps build a more fair society and can even save lives. But over the years, regulations – and the inspections and bureaucracy that go with them – have piled up and up. This has hurt business, doing real damage to our economy.

Yes. It's rules that ruined the economy, not this government's friends the bankers. Oh no. Not at all.

The ConDems - you know, the ones that want us off benefits and working - are consulting on whether or not to scrap the Equality Act 2010 as part of the "challenge"; the act that's vital to disabled people securing work.

Unsurprisingly the consultation has brought out the inner Daily Mail reader in most of the respondents so far. These people seem to think that the act is all about "positive discrimination" and don't seem to understand that the act protects men as well as women, straight people as well as gay people, and white people as well as non-white people. But I suppose that's the kind of misunderstanding people would get from reading right-wing rags.

There have been a few people standing up for equality, but sadly not nearly enough. Not that consultation really makes much of a difference, the government will still do exactly what they want just like with DLA reform, but I think us pro-equality, anti-discrimination types need to make our voices heard.

It is truly farcical that they think more disabled people will suddenly find jobs without anti-discrimination laws. Already the employment rates of disabled people are around 48%, compared with around 78% of non-disabled people (sure, some of that's to do with illness and inability to work, but discrimination in the job market is also a massive factor). The gap in the rate of employment between disabled and non-disabled people has shrunk since 2002 when it was 36% to the rate of around 29% in 2010. You can be sure that that's a direct result of the DDA getting stronger. (Stats from the ODI.)

Consulting on binning the Equality Act isn't the only thing being consulted on that may affect us. Every few weeks they're looking at a different sector and considering the regulations specific to that area. Currently they're consulting on the retail sector. From 23rd June to 6th July they're consulting on regulations around social care; when you can be sure that the rules that protect us from abusive carers and so forth (at least the ones that have been previously caught) will be threatened with those red tape snipping scissors.


  1. It should be startling, but sadly isn't. I've just spent a few minutes on the site (follow Lisa's link in the article straight to the Equality Act discussion), taking the Daily Heil readers to task and it's good to see that I am not the only person or organisation doing that -- but the more the merrier!

    The big question is whether the inclusion of the Equality Act, but not other primary legislation, is consistent with the Government's Public Sector Equality Duty.

  2. And here we part company.

    Please read this NY Times piece by the Freakonomics guys that explains the "law of unintended consequences", mentioning specifically how the Americans with Disabilities Act actually ends up increasing discrimination against disabled people. (The example given is the cost of supplying sign language interpreters making doctors less likely to take on deaf patients in the US where they're private).

    Is there any disabled person in the UK who is NOT familiar with the use and abuse of the two-ticks accreditation by employers? Yes, by identifying yourself as disabled you are guaranteed to get an interview... and almost as guaranteed NOT to get the job.

    In the past this problem was dealt with by the phenomenon of "passing", when overall people with disabilities were actually slightly MORE likely to be employed than they have been since equalities legislation. Yes, in fact "more disabled people [found] jobs WITHOUT anti-discrimination laws," as you put it.

    Discrimination is a fact. Simply "making a law" will not prevent it happening. Hands up anyone who's smoked dope, for example.

    I couldn't pass in a heavy fog but I'd still prefer to take my chances than accept an equal share of zero. Simply having a disability DOESN'T mean I'm happy with either the victim mentality OR that of a crab in a bucket.

  3. @Deus:

    The 2 Ticks Scheme is separate from the DDA/EA. The DDA/EA only criminalised negative discrimination, the 2 Ticks promoted positive discrimination.

    And, actually, it's a load of shit. I once applied for a job with an organisation that not only bore the 2 Ticks logo but really should've known better (*cough*DRC*cough*). I very clearly met all the minimum criteria for an interview so they should've given me one, even if they had no intention of hiring me (and, of course, they were absolutely free to not give me the job). So they lied and said I hadn't met all the criteria. Bit stupid just to weasel out of spending 20 mins interviewing me even if they had no intention of hiring me.

    Yes, in fact "more disabled people [found] jobs WITHOUT anti-discrimination laws," as you put it.

    I refer you back to the stats in my post.