Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Scottish Legal Aid Board takes steps to further embed equality in its work
Britain’s equality watchdog has concluded a legal agreement with the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB), after the public body responsible for administering legal assistance in Scotland improved its equality practices.
SLAB entered the agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission in July 2021. The regulatory action followed discussions about how SLAB could best achieve full compliance with its obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty.
The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have due regard for the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different groups. For most public bodies, including SLAB, conducting and acting on the results of equality impact assessments is a key requirement.
As part of the agreement, SLAB has improved the way it reviews the potential and actual effects of its new and revised policies and practices on people with protected characteristics. Knowledge and expertise of these assessment processes has been built across the organisation through training. SLAB has also updated its equality monitoring of legal aid applicants and engaged with the legal community to improve collection of applicant equality data.
Having formally monitored delivery of the agreed action plan, the EHRC is content that SLAB has met the terms of the agreement and will continue to build on its improved equality impact assessment practices.
John Wilkes, Head of Scotland at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, yesterday said:
“The Scottish Legal Aid Board has taken important steps to further embed equality in its work, by meeting their duty to assess the effect of their policies and practices on people with protected characteristics and reviewing how their services are delivered.
“While it is a legal requirement of all public bodies in Scotland, the completion of effective equality impact assessments will also help SLAB provide a better service for every legal aid applicant or user, by helping them to address any potential disadvantages or barriers.
“To accurately assess the equality impacts of their policies and procedures, public bodies need to have good quality data, and SLAB has been improving the quality and range of data they gather. This will help support people with protected characteristics to have fair access to justice in Scotland.”
Notes to Editors
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the regulator of the Equality Act in England, Scotland and Wales. It has been awarded ‘A status’ as a National Human Rights Institution by the United Nations.
- Our job is to make Britain fairer. We do this by safeguarding and enforcing the laws that protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect.
- More information on how we use Section 23 agreements is available from the EHRC website. Examples of other legal agreements include the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Ikea UK, McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, Sainsbury’s, and Network Rail.
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