The Equality Bill: breaking it down

I’ve been told that the best blogs are ‘fey’ which I responded to with a blank look. I believe it means whimsical. Anyway, I fear that this entry will not be fey but rather legalistic as this week has seen me looking at the finer details of the Equality Bill.

The Bill includes a set of ‘protected characteristics’ on whose basis people should not be discriminated against in terms of employment and provision of goods/services. The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Carers UK have been arguing for ‘caring’ to be such a characteristic, but unfortunately with no luck so far.

However, carers will be afforded protection through their “association to disability” and also to somebody who is elderly. For the purposes of the Equality Bill:

A person has a disability if:
(a) they have a physical or mental impairment, and
(b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

This means people who care for somebody who is elderly, physically disabled, has learning disabilities or mental ill health will be protected. However, carers of people who abuse non-prescribed substances will not be protected as such people will not be considered disabled.

In previous community care legislation, people addicted to drugs or alcohol could be considered to be disabled thus affording their carers certain rights. However, the Equality Bill is going to be based on the Disability Discrimination Act definition of disability and there are 180,000 carers of people abusing substances. Some of these substance abusers may also have mental or physical disabilities which would allow them to be defined as disabled though.

But let’s try to finish on a bright note, and it’s actually the Government that provides it in the Equality Bill. Solicitor General, Vera Baird MP, announced that although the Bill generally only applies to those aged 18+, a special clause announced by the Government this week will enable young carers to be given the same protection through association to disability as adult carers.

This Bill won’t change every carer’s life, but it will make a real difference to the lives of many. The very idea of the Bill and the example of the special clause inserted, unprompted, does show that the Government can be genuine in its attempts to help. Neither the Bill nor the Government are perfect, but I guess none of us are.

Take Care


June 26, 2009 - Posted by | Equality Bill | , ,


  1. Hello!
    Great to read about what you’re doing and reassuring that it’s not all drinking coffee and making your collegues laugh ( although you’re very good at that too! ).

    An interesting read, thanks Gordon!

    Comment by Sam_S | August 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. Gordon, it’s really an interesting read to be able to follow along with all this policy information.

    I definitely agree with what the presenter from Radio Cornwall said in one of your earlier entries about there being a possibility of us all being a carer some day. I’m not one at present, but have family and friends that are. I’ve never really thought about the equailty issue before (as I guess in my mind none of these should be an issue – it should be common sense not to discriminate people on such things). I would have previously assumed that caring would be in the bill already and it’s a shame to see that I’ve been proven wrong. At least some carers are protected by it through association though. It’s a step in the right direction, but let’s hope the policy carries on walking that way.

    Comment by Nicole | August 4, 2009 | Reply

  3. Great work Gordon, very interesting to keep up with your plight. I keep watching for you on Secret Millionaire but alas, you have not yet been discovered. Keep up the great effort and get training for that second marathon!

    Comment by Rich M | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Very interesting – and certainly not fey indeed!

    Comment by Conversation Pieces | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. And the Bill has, of course, implications for the Trust and network and our own provision of services, as well as our work with policy makers and other service providers, to ensure carers themselves are not discriminated against in terms of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

    And nice pic Gordon…

    Comment by Beryl Cross | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  6. Thanks Gordon.

    As ever an interesting read. Very useful to know about the extra clause added for young carers.

    Comment by Allan Johnstone | August 6, 2009 | Reply

  7. When the attendance allowance is abolished by the present government when the welfare reform bill becomes law i must assume that as carers allowance is dependant on your caree being in receipt of attendance allowance the carers allowance will also be confined to history oif thisa does happen will The Princess Royal Trust for Carers be disbanded? if we aint got any carers as we will all be out looking for jobs why should the trust continue .

    Comment by GEORGE HERSCHEL | August 6, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi George,
      You can get Carer’s Allowance without the cared-for receiving Attendance Allowance – as AA is only for people aged over 65. However, the government has not explained how proposed changes to AA may affect Carer’s Allowance or what they will do to stop any changes to AA affecting people’s entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

      Regardless of benefit changes, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers will continue to support carers, young and old, working or retired wherever we can and we do currently support many carers who do not receive Carer’s Allowance.

      Comment by Gordon | August 17, 2009 | Reply

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