Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House
The Welsh Government is launching its Strategic Equality Plan and equality objectives on Monday 2nd April. These highlight how we are fulfilling our legal obligations as well as our strong commitment to equality and inclusion.
Under the Equality Act 2010 the general equality duty provides that listed public authorities, including the Welsh Government, must have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited under the Act;
- Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; and
- Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
The Act covers people with the ‘protected characteristics’ of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and sex (gender).
We were the first Government in Britain to bring in specific equality duties to help public authorities better perform the general equality duty. The focus of these duties is the obligation to set outcome-focused equality objectives informed by extensive engagement with individuals and organisations and underpinned by robust evidence. They offer a unique opportunity to embed and mainstream equalities and inclusion into public authorities’ everyday thinking, planning and action.
Our far reaching engagement has shaped our objectives and confirmed our prioritisation of the areas of inequality on which we should focus. We want to see that all citizens in Wales are respected and included as equal members, and that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
One of the core principles underpinning the Programme for Government is sustainable development; equality and inclusion are integral to this and woven throughout the Programme as well as being reflected in Chapter 8 ‘Standing up for Equality’. The Programme for Government will be updated in due course to reflect the equality objectives.
A key dimension of achieving well being is also taking action on poverty. The Welsh Government will deliver on this through its Tackling Poverty Action Plan and the Strategic Equality Plan and the Tackling Poverty Action Plan will dovetail and complement one another.
The equality objectives will be monitored and reviewed across the Welsh Government to chart our progress. Our annual equality reports will show what has been achieved and what more needs to be done. This will ensure that our work on equalities and inclusion is transparent and remains a top priority.
The Welsh Government will be working closely with the public sector across Wales to promote the Welsh specific equality duties and to take a co-ordinating role in ensuring that authorities’ objectives reflect local priorities as well as ensuring a joined up approach in response to the national equalities’ agenda.
I will make an Oral Statement on 24th April and I will be happy to answer questions at that time. I attach copies of the Strategic Equality Plan with this Written Statement.