Disability Rights Commission issues compliance notices to nine public bodies for failing to provide evidence of a disability equality scheme

Nine public bodies risk legal action after being issued with compliance notices by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) for failing to provide evidence of a disability equality scheme.

Notices have been sent to five local councils, two health trusts, a further education college and a museum.

The legal documents require organisations to supply written information showing how they are complying, or planning to comply, with the scheme within 28 days. If they fail to respond, the DRC can then ask for a court order compelling the information to be provided.

Producing a disability equality scheme is part of a legal duty that came into force in December 2006. It requires public bodies to pay “due regard” to the promotion of equality for disabled people, including employment.

Bert Massie, DRC chairman, said the vast majority of public sector bodies had responded positively to the duty’s requirements. “The fact that some have not shows the importance of having strong legislation to promote the rights of disabled people,” he said.

The councils and health trusts said they had produced draft schemes, and would be responding to the DRC. Barrow in Furness Sixth Form College has published its scheme on its website.

A spokeswoman for The Museum of Science and Industry said the organisation was “surprised” to receive a notice as it had not received a prior warning letter. “However, it is true that we haven’t yet published a disability equality scheme, so we will be responding within 28 days as requested,” she said.

Disability training

A qualification giving employers the opportunity to train their staff in disability awareness has been launched. Awards body Education Development International said the qualification aimed to assist organisations in complying with the current legislation, and to improve employees’ understanding of disability. The course is nine hours long, which means it can be completed in a day.

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