Working Together for Race Equality - The Scottish Executive's Race Equality Scheme
4. Promoting Race Equality -Statutory Duties
4.1 As with local government, non-departmental public bodies and agencies, the Scottish Executive is now legally obliged actively to promote race equality in all its work, as a consequence of the
Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 (RRAA) ( http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/raceact/welcome.htm ). In addition to this general duty, Scottish Ministers have used their powers to make a statutory order placing more specific duties on certain bodies, in furtherance of the general duty. This includes a requirement to draw up a Race Equality Scheme showing how both the general and specific duties will be fulfilled.
The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
4.2 A number of significant changes to the Race Relations Act 1976 have been made. The strengthened legislative framework will help public authorities across Britain provide their services to the public in a way that is fair and accessible to all, irrespective of their race or colour.
It will also give members of the public greater protection from unlawful race discrimination. In particular, the changes:
- Widen and strengthen the anti-discrimination provisions within the Race Relations Act; and
- Introduce a new and enforceable duty on key public bodies to promote race equality.
4.3 The original Race Relations Act 1976 made direct and indirect discrimination and victimisation unlawful in a range of areas such as employment, housing, education and training, and the provision of goods, facilities and services. The 1976 Act has now been amended so that race discrimination is outlawed in all public functions, with a few exceptions.
4.4 A general duty has been placed on public authorities to promote race equality. This requires them to take action to prevent acts of race discrimination before they occur. Those public authorities, in performing their public functions, have to:
"Have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination, and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups."
4.5 Key public authorities - including central and local government bodies, health service bodies and many more - are additionally subject to a number of specific duties. These are specific actions that they are required to take so as to help them meet the new duty to promote race equality. Scottish public bodies have to comply with the new duties by 30th November 2002.
Impact of the specific duties
4.6 Those responsible for providing public services will need to ensure that their policies and services are fair. The specific duties require key bodies to prepare and publish a Race Equality Scheme describing their public functions that are relevant to the duty. Bodies also have to set out their arrangements for assessing and consulting on the policies they are proposing for adoption; for monitoring for any adverse impact of their policies on the promotion of race equality; for publishing the results of their assessments, consultations and monitoring; for ensuring public access to information and to services; and for training for staff in issues relevant to the duty. In addition there are a number of employment duties public bodies are expected to comply with.
4.7 There are separate duties for schools, and further and higher education institutions.
The Role of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE)
4.8 The CRE ( www.cre.gov.uk ) will help public authorities to promote race equality by advising them and identifying examples of good practice. The CRE can issue statutory codes of practice to help public authorities further by providing guidance on meeting their new obligation. A draft Code of Practice and supporting guidance for devolved bodies has been in circulation since May 2002 ( http://www.cre.gov.uk/duty/scotland/duty-scotland.html .)
The final version will be published shortly.
4.9 We have worked very closely with the CRE in Scotland in the preparation of our race equality scheme and they have provided valuable advice to this end.