Don’t cut our Human Rights!
EHRC facing 25% budget cuts
Unite the Union and PCS have launched a joint campaign to highlight the huge budget cuts of 25% over the next four years facing the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which will result in nearly 30 members of staff being made redundant and mean the organisation will not be able to carry out its duties of holding the government to account on equality and human rights.
The commission, which advises public services such as the police on how to stop racism and supports victims of discrimination at work, has already suffered a 69 percent drop in finances – from £70m to £22m – since the Tories came to power in 2010.
Unite national officer for equalities Siobhan Endean warned that further attacks on the commission would cost jobs and render it “unable to stand up for justice, dignity, quality, human rights and a fairer society.”
“We believe that these proposals will massively set back the progress in equality and human rights that this country has made in recent decades and will further undermine this small but vital agency, and it’s not just the workers who will be affected by these cuts,” Endean said.
“There will also be a devastating impact on the vital services that the Commission provides. The impact will be felt widely, particularly by victims of discrimination or human rights abuses who don’t qualify for legal aid, can’t afford tribunal fees, aren’t a member of a trade union, and whose local law centre or CAB has closed.”
The EHRC’s own internal consultation found that a further 25 percent budget reduction will lead to the immediate loss of 26 jobs, the unwelcome possibility of compulsory redundancies and the closure of EHRC offices in Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh and Newcastle.
The cuts will also mean that just three case workers will be left to support discrimination victims, only four will be available to answer public enquiries on equality in the workplace and just a single person will remain to liaise with parliament.
In addition there will be a reduction in the number of staff supporting the statutory disability committee and the disability programme of work. This is the team responsible for responding to the recommendations made in the House of Lords Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability, which investigated the act’s impact on disabled people.
Unite are calling for compulsory redundancies to be ruled out, increased employee protections, the retention of satellite offices, extra training for EHRC staff in order to decrease outsourcing and the enhancement and protection of frontline services.
The majority of the EHRC’s older, disabled and ethnic minority staff are in the lowest paid posts and the Commission has failed to provide the unions with an equality assessment of the impact of these proposals.
These cuts will have devastating impacts on the vital services that the Commission provides and the people who rely on them. There will be nowhere to turn for support for victims of discrimination or human rights abuses who don’t qualify for legal aid, can’t afford tribunal fees, aren’t a member of a trade union, and whose local law centre or CAB has closed.
National Officer for Community, Youth Work and Not for Profit
Unite for Our Society