Equality and diversity
Somerset West and Taunton Council values diversity and is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for everyone, regardless of their background or personal circumstances.
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act seeks to ensure that people are not discriminated against because of certain characteristics. These are known as 'protected characteristics' and there are nine of these in total:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
Locally we have also recognised the following characteristics:
- military status
- low income
This does not change the status for any of the protected characteristics.
Further information about the Equality Act 2010 can be found on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.
What the Equalities Act means for the Council
The Equality Act introduced the Public Sector Equality Duty. This Duty places two specific requirements on the Council:
- To publish information annually to show that it complies with the new Equality Duty
- To prepare and publish equality objectives every four years
Corporate Equality Objectives 2019-2023
The Equality Act 2010 imposes General Duties on Local Authorities to:
(a) eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;
(b) advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
(c) foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
The Council has agreed 9 equality objectives in order to meet these General Duties.
These are a mixture of objectives that Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) will pursue alone and those which SWT will pursue in partnership with the Somerset Equality Officers Group (SEOG). This is a group which is made up of County and the Somerset District Councils, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, Taunton Musgrove and Yeovil Hospitals, Somerset Partnership and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue. This approach will make the most effective use of Public Sector resources for equality and diversity. The hope is that it will also increase the impact of any changes on the community as a whole.
Our objectives are:
- Objective 1: Councillors and officers will fully consider the equality implications of all decisions they make.
- Objective 2: Those with protected characteristics feel empowered to contribute to the democratic process and any Council activity that affects them; their input is used to inform the planning and delivery of services.
- Objective 3: Communities with protected characteristics are able to access services in a reasonable and appropriate way.
- Objective 4: Actions are taken to identify and reduce any inequalities faced by our staff or our potential employees.
- Objective 5: Work with communities and voluntary sector groups to address inequalities experienced by low incomes families and individuals.
- Objective 6: Improve the opportunities for integration and cohesion.
- Objective 7: Improve understanding of mental health and access to support.
- Objective 8: Work with the Gypsy and Traveller community to improve the provision of pitches.
- Objective 9: Create an Equality Working Group for Staff in the Public Sector in Somerset.
These objectives are underpinned by a Corporate Equality Action Plan which sets out the specific actions the council will take in order to deliver its agreed equality objectives, which in turn support one or more aims of the General Equality Duty. The Action Plan also highlights some of the actions already taken by the council to create a fairer and more equal community and workforce. We will report progress against the aims of the General Equality Duty at least annually. The reports will be published within the agenda of the Council's Audit Governance and Standards Committee.