From this month, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) will bring together in one body the powers formerly exercised by the separate equality bodies.

The CEHR is a non-departmental public body whose purpose is to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people and protect human rights. It was established by the Equality Act 2006 and is intended to bring together the work of the three existing Commission: the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

In addition to absorbing the existing Commissions' powers, the CEHR will also have new powers to enforce legislation more effectively, including new powers to take human rights cases. The CEHR will also have particular responsibilities to promote awareness and understanding of human rights and encourage good practice by public authorities in meeting their Human Rights Act obligations.

The CEHR will have offices in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Wales and its remit will cover the whole of Great Britain. In Scotland and Wales there will be statutory committees responsible for the work of the CEHR. Scotland will also have a Scottish Commission for Human Rights, as a result of separate, Scottish legislation. The Scottish Commission will have much more limited powers than the CEHR and has not yet been established.