William Eichler 19 May 2022

Ombudsman reminds councils of Equality Act duties

Ombudsman reminds councils of Equality Act duties  image
Image: 719/Shutterstock.com.

It is important that disabled people are placed at the heart of local services, Ombudsman tells local authority leaders.

A new report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman shares what the Ombudsman has learnt from its investigations about equal access and local services.

The Equality Act 2010 requires local services to make sure people with disabilities can access their service as easily as people without disabilities. This often will involve councils making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable them to do so.

The majority of the Ombudsman’s investigations into Equality Act duties are about councils failing to deal properly with reasonable adjustments.

The report highlights a number of cases where local services have got things wrong, and offers opportunities for others to learn.

Cases in the report include a council failing to make adjustments to the way social workers communicated with a woman with mental health difficulties and not allowing a man with dyslexia the opportunity to challenge a parking fine over the telephone.

‘We know dealing with public services can often be complex, so it is vital local service providers put the needs of people with disabilities at the heart of any decisions about how services are designed and delivered,’ said Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

‘It is not enough for them to leave this as an add-on or an afterthought – and enabling people with different needs to access their services shouldn’t be seen as an inconvenience.

‘If people feel they have not had their reasonable adjustments met, they need to tell their local authority, and then come to us if they do not put things right. The stories in this report show that just one complaint to us has the power to make a huge difference. If we find a council has made a mistake, we can recommend changes that can impact everyone in their area and share that learning for other councils and providers to act on.’

He added: ‘I would urge local authorities to read my report and consider whether any of the services they provide are putting people with disabilities at a disadvantage.’

The Ombudsman’s report identifies a number of positive steps councils can make to improve services, including reviewing staff training needs around the Equality Act 2010, incorporating Equality Act duties in contracts when commissioning services from external suppliers, and retaining alternative contact methods for people with alternative needs when moving services online.

Local councillors and members of scrutiny committees are also provided with a list of questions they can ask their authorities to consider to analyse whether services in their wards meet their legal obligations.

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Senior Business Change Officer

South Derbyshire District Council
£28,226 - £30,984
A fantastic opportunity to join an ambitious and transforming Council. Swadlincote, Derbyshire
Recuriter: South Derbyshire District Council

Service Director - Community Development

South Gloucestershire Council
Recuriter: South Gloucestershire Council

Team Support Worker

Leicestershire County Council
An exciting opportunity has arisen to work to assist in the coordination to support the management of a comprehensive countywide Team Support Service. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Assertive Inreach Worker

Leicestershire County Council
We now have an exciting opportunity to join our team working as an Assertive Inreach Worker. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Assistant Early Education Funding Officer

City of Bradford MDC
£22,129 - £24,920
An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Intelligence and Sufficiency Service to work within the Early Education Funding team. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.