In yet another last minute change to proposed legislation, the Government yesterday published revised draft regulations on the specific public sector duties. The implementation date for those regulations has been postponed and the Government now says it intends to bring the specific duties into force in July 2011.
The revised draft regulations will, if implemented, impose more limited publication obligations. Listed public bodies would be required to publish at least one specific and measurable equality objective not later than 6th April 2012 and at least every four years after that. The requirement to publish how progress toward that objective will be measured has been removed. Listed bodies would also have a duty to publish information to demonstrate compliance with the general public sector duty not later than 31st December 2011 and at least annually after that. That information should include, in particular, information relating to employees (if they have 150 or more) and service users.
The main differences between the draft regulations published on 12 January and the new draft are the removal of requirements on listed public bodies to publish:
- details of engagement undertaken with interested persons when determining policies and practices;
- details of engagement undertaken when determining their equality objectives;
- evidence of the equality analysis undertaken in relation to policies and practices; and
- details of information considered when undertaking an equality analysis.
The Government Equalities Office explains the change of approach saying: "The proposals are designed to deliver a clear focus on transparency, freeing up public bodies to take responsibility for their own performance in delivering equality improvements and to publish the right information so that the public can hold them to account. This approach will be better for equality because it will focus on the delivery of results, not the performance of bureaucratic processes."
The Government seeks comments on the new draft until 21 April.