Agenda item

Equalities Framework for Local Government : self assessment report

Minutes:

Councillor Pavey introduced the item asking Christine Gilbert (Chief Executive) to introduce the self assessment report.

 

Christine Gilbert informed Committee Members that the council had been working towards the 'Excellent' level of the LGA's Equality Framework for Local Government for the past couple of years, as part of the Council’s commitment to becoming a model of equality and diversity practice.  She informed Committee Members that a group of peers had visited Brent to assess progress against the five performance areas:

 

-           Knowing your communities

-           Leadership, partnership and organisational commitment

-           Involving your communities

-           Responsive services and customer care

-           A skilled and committed workforce.

 

The five members of the review team had spent three days in Brent. During their visit, they had met with a range of internal and external stakeholders, including partners, community and voluntary organisations, councillors, service users and staff.

 

Christine Gilbert informed Committee Members that the peer team had found that Brent was on the cusp of the 'Excellent' level but had indicated the wish to return for a shorter visit in a few months' time to confirm the position.  She reported that this put Brent Council amongst the highest performing public services in the country in terms of Equalities. Nationally, only 17 councils out of 353 had secured the top rating.

 

Christine Gilbert informed Committee Members that the peer review team highlighted a significant number of strengths, from the commitment of Brent’s leadership right across the council to the in-depth understanding of our diverse local communities. The team had singled out many examples of excellent practice from every service area.  External partners, when they met the team, and service users, had felt there had been a notable improvement in Brent’s equalities, transparency and community engagement over the past three years. 

 

Committee Members noted that the team had also identified a number of areas where performance could be further improved, in particular in relation to accessibility for disabled people in the Civic Centre. The assessment team had also wanted to see Brent’s good work with some of the newer communities, like the Roma community, bed in.

 

Committee Members noted that the review team felt that the Council could address their recommendations and achieve the 'Excellent' level in a just a few months, when a couple of people would return for a day to check the necessary progress had been made.

 

Councillor Pavey stated that this would also give the Council the opportunity to demonstrate the impact of the more recent equalities initiatives, including further progressing the recommendations of the HR and Equality Policy Review.

 

Following a discussion about the role of the Equalities Committee, Committee Members asked for a discussion paper at a future meeting about complaints to the Council on equalities issues, such as accessibility. This would include letters to departments registering concerns.

 

It was agreed also that the Committee, at its next meeting, would consider a discussion paper about the Equality Impact Assessment process in place in Brent. 

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)         that a report on accessibility improvements to the Civic Centre be submitted to the next meeting of the committee;

 

(ii)        that a report on complaints to the Council on equalities issues, such as accessibility be submitted to a future meeting of the committee;

 

(iii)       that a discussion paper on the Equality Impact Assessment process currently in place within the Council be presented to the next meeting of the committee.

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