Jobcentre Plus fails to promote equality

Jobcentre Plus is not doing all it can to promote equality, the diversity watchdog has said.

The first formal assessment carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found that the Department for Work and Pensions’ Jobcentre Plus employment agency was not carrying out sufficient ‘diversity assessments’ when recruiting or providing other services. The assessments are used by many public sector organisations to make sure they are not inadvertently discriminating against minority groups, and help public authorities meet their statutory duties to promote equality.

But the EHRC has said Jobcentre Plus seemed too concerned with “number crunching”, getting through as many assessments as possible rather than spending more time looking at the outcomes.

The EHRC also said Jobcentre Plus failed to consult with its clients from different minority backgrounds to check whether it was meeting their needs.

The findings are released today after a year-long review by the EHRC of how the DWP and its agency are working together to promote equality. In response to the assessment, Jobcentre Plus has indicated that it is planning to address all the concerns raised by the Commission “in due course”.

Susie Uppal, director of legal enforcement at the EHRC, said: “Jobcentre Plus is already taking into account many of our recommendations. They now have a year to show that it is working in practice, after which we’ll consider if any further action is required.”

A spokeswoman told Personnel Today: “Jobcentre Plus was number crunching through assessments. It would have been better in some cases to have done one or two really well.”

The EHRC’s recommendations included:

  • Improving Diversity Impact Assessment (DIA) guidance, tools and training for staff, so that efforts to promote equality are more integrated and effective.

  • Making DIAs more transparent

  • Changing the way that Jobcentre Plus measures its own compliance with the public sector duties

  • Ensuring that equality considerations are factored in at the policy development stage.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “We are pleased this report acknowledges the progress we have made to develop our diversity and equality practice over recent years, alongside examples of good practice. The Commission recognises that Jobcentre Plus is already taking into account its recommendations, and we welcome this constructive approach”.


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