Government plans to launch a review into inequality and discrimination in UK society have been welcomed by unions and equality groups.
The Equalities Review, which will be chaired by Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, will report to the Prime Minister by the summer of 2006.
It will debate the merits of government plans for a single equality commission, which have been criticised in recent months for being poorly thought out.
The TUC said the announcement was “excellent news for every victim of discrimination”.
“Despite much determination by this government, trade unions and the equality bodies, we know that discrimination persists in many areas of life, and particularly the jobs market. The pay gap between men and women persists,” said Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC.
“The top levels of most organisations are disproportionately white and male. Despite near full employment, people with disabilities face big barriers into work and the pattern of unemployment among ethnic groups reveals clear discrimination.”
The Equal Opportunities Commission said it “unequivocally welcomed the Equalities Review and Discrimination Law Review”.
“Britain has changed dramatically in the past 30 years: our existing equality laws and the ways of working that they promote were designed for a very different society,” said Julie Mellor, chairwoman of the EOC.
“We have consistently argued that reform of the law is vital and will provide a firm foundation for the work of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights.”