Equality Reference Group Newsletter - December 2018

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Equality Reference Group newsletter

December 2018

Updating the County Council's equality policy and objectives; an update on employment initiatives and celebrating the suffrage centenary

Items discussed

Updating the equality policy and objectives

Clock tower


At our September meeting we reviewed the Council's equality policy and objectives which will be updated in 2019.

The equality policy will be reduced in size to make it more accessible, but as it was felt that a lot of the information in the policy was useful, guidance will be provided as appendices rather than removed entirely. There's still time to share your views on what should be in the updated policy by emailing equality@devon.gov.uk. The current policy is here.

The Council's Fair for All Programme has almost come to its end and new equality objectives will be published in 2019.

We were consulted on these new objectives which will include: a focus on continuing to embed equality and diversity considerations in service delivery through scrutiny from the Equality Reference Group, use of equality and diversity information, and impact assessment; monitoring unacceptable behaviour such as harassment, and continuing to create a culture of 'it's OK to say it's not OK'; using events to celebrate diversity and raise awareness; and ensuring staff networks continue to influence policy and practice. 

Projects will include a review of learning and development, and a review of language support and progress towards the British Sign Language Charter.

Heritage Ability is a hit!

Huge congratulations were offered to our Equality Reference Group member, Living Options Devon, for beating hundreds of competitors from across the country to win a prestigious National Lottery Award for their project Heritage Ability.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Heritage Ability is designed to improve the accessibility of over 20 South West heritage sites over a three-year span, so that more people can enjoy the region’s amazing legacy. It was the only project in the South West to make it to the final seven in the heritage category.

Employment initiatives

At our November meeting we welcomed back officers from Human Resources, Social Care and the Economy Team to talk about recent employment initiatives. These include:

  • A programme for Care Leavers: a four step programme preparing 16-25 year olds, who have been in care with the local authority, for work. It includes access to training, support, coaching and work experience.
  • Internships for people with learning disabilities (two year fixed term contract, usually in an admin/office based role). 
  • Further work to understand and address the Council's gender pay gap.
  • Ready When You Are campaign which runs from Sept – Dec 2018 is Devon County Council and Job Centre Plus working in partnership to showcase people’s abilities and promote the benefits of the Disability Confident  scheme and Access to work funding.
  • The campaign aims to encourage more employers in Devon take on the Disability Confident mantle to make it easier for people with learning disabilities, neuro diversity and mental health conditions to get into and stay in employment.
  • The campaign media has generated a positive response from the business community as of November 114 businesses have become Disability Confident in Devon as a result of the campaign
  • The campaign is having a ripple effect, ensuring issues of equality are a high priority for employer’s with lots of events planned around this theme for 2019.

Our discussion included the comments:

  • Disabled people will be concerned about how schemes will affect the income they receive via disability benefits, and whether they will end up worse off. They will also want to know what support is available via Access to Work.
  • Impact assess schemes to ensure they are truly inclusive - otherwise there's a danger we 'cherry pick' the easier things. Some people will need more encouragement to join a programme.
  • We can't satisfy construction labour needs locally, so we need to be looking at those who are long term unemployed in Devon.
  • Young Devon provide a mentoring service for employers as they don't always have the time to support a young apprentice in the workplace.
  • Campaigns like Ready When You Are are a great way to create culture change - if people see someone with a learning disability who is working it can really challenge negative perceptions.
  • One of the problems with Disability Confident is it's a self assessment and therefore lacks some credibility.
  • Women who were born in the fifties are being affected badly by the changes in state pension age meaning they need to stay in work for longer than originally anticipated - but they may have been in very physical jobs such as caring which are harder to perform in later life. These women have not been given sufficient notice to re-train and they don't have the ICT skills to apply for jobs or take on desk based work. There needs to be something specific for them because they won't identify with a lot of programmes. Fawcett rep knows of about 300 women in this situation.
Other information



On 14th December the County Council opened its doors to celebrate the suffrage centenary. The celebration included an exhibition on suffrage and democracy, a 'youth takeover' and a conference with a difference on Women in Public Service. Find out more.

Coming up

Budget consultation


The Equality Reference Groups and other voluntary and community sector organisations have been invited to the Budget Consultation meeting on 17th January. You can watch the meeting online via DCC's webcasting.

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