What we asked
Q9: Are there any equality issues we should be aware of in respect of local outcomes improvement plans and locality plans?
155. Section 5 of the Act places duties on each community planning partnership to act with a view to reducing inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage unless the partnership considers that it would be inappropriate to do so. The Act places duties on CPPs and partners to secure the participation of community bodies throughout community and locality planning.
156. Section 4(6) of the Act makes it clear that CPPs must have regard in particular to those bodies which represent the interests of persons who experience inequalities of outcome.
157. Further, CPPs should describe the extent to which they have been effective in enabling community bodies to contribute to community planning in [the] progress report as per section 8 (2)(b)(i and ii) and community planning partners should provide such resources as the CPP considers appropriate to secure the participation of community bodies in community planning as per section 14(3)(b).
158. Draft guidance provides further detail about approaches to equality under the section on tackling inequalities in Part 2 principles of effective community planning and throughout Part 3 specific guidance on statutory plans. Part 3 provides further support to assist partners undertake locality planning. Locality planning presents opportunities for CPPs and their partners to tackle inequalities in well directed and effective ways.
159. Guidance also states that locality planning alone is unlikely to be enough to fulfil the duty on CPPs under section 5 of the 2015 Act, to act with a view to reducing inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage and that inequalities are not always experienced in neat [geographic] concentrations.
160. In total there were 70 responses to this question which were very wide ranging with some repeating comments and views expressed in response to earlier questions.
161. Some of the broad themes emerged around the potential tensions between a focus on geographic communities at expense of communities of interest. Other issues concerned the importance and challenge of securing the participation of those experiencing disadvantage and the potential unintended consequences of ignoring the views of those who wish to participate in pursuit of those whose participation is most challenging to secure.
Communities - geographic and of interest
162. A small number of respondents commented on the potential for a focus on localities to be at expense of communities of interest. A local authority summarised this for many when noting that care must be taken to ensure that focus on geographies of concentrated deprivation does not lead to reductions in focus on protected characteristics groups and the barriers and inequalities they face.
163. A CPP respondent echoed this "potential for targeted locality planning approach [for geographic communities]to be prioritised over communities of interest" particularly for the large number of people who experience poor outcomes but live out-with concentrated geographic areas that they considered may be adopted for locality planning.
Socio economic disadvantage and protected characteristics
164. Some respondents suggested a possible tension between equality of provision of universal services and the need to align services and resources to where need is greatest. With a third sector respondent keen to strengthen the link between principles concerning the understanding of local communities' needs circumstance and opportunities, with those for tackling inequalities. So that CPPs and partners in "developing their LOIPs, understand that they are required to pro-actively identify the needs of communities with protected characteristics in their area before reflecting these in the setting of priorities". Others proposed emphasising the potential role of Equality Impact Assessments for each CPP and partners in setting priorities for community planning.
165. Some respondents considered that addressing inequality should extend to those with protected characteristics as well as those experiencing socio economic disadvantages. A Third Sector respondent suggested that it may be helpful for the regulations and guidance to "reference equality issues articulated in the revised National Standards for Community Engagement".
166. This appears to be supported by a CPP respondent who commented that in respect of equalities they should "take into account the protected characteristics detailed in the Equality Act 2010, as well as socio-economic factors".
167. A local authority respondent noted that securing the effective participation of those groups which are hardest to access will take a lengthy period of time and sustained interaction.
168. One respondent, wary of unintended consequences, considered that securing the participation of those most difficult to engage "shouldn't be at cost of ignoring those who wish to participate".