This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/creating-a-fairer-and-more-equal-society. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.

Issue

We want the UK to be a leader in equality and human rights. At our best, we are defined by our tolerance, freedom and fairness.

There is also a strong economic argument for equality. If people are not able to reach their full potential, the economy suffers.

We are working toward a fairer society by improving equality and reducing discrimination and disadvantage for all, at work, in public and political life, and in people’s life chances.

Actions

We prevent discrimination (including discrimination based on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation) by:

  • funding the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and making sure it does its job well, by appointing the board and monitoring its work
  • providing information, advice and support on discrimination through the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS)
  • making it easier for disabled people to stand for election
  • running a campaign to help reduce the pressure that popular culture places on people’s body confidence

We support and protect the rights of women by:

We protect the rights of children by making sure UK government policies take account of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

We protect the rights of disabled people by:

  • making sure UK government policies take account of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People

  • encouraging the use of the social model of disability which says that disability is created by barriers in society

We support and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, including by opening up marriage to same-sex couples.

We support the rights of British citizens abroad and use our influence to support international equality. Our aim is to support equal treatment and equality of opportunity internationally. We negotiate bilaterally and in the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, and Commonwealth to protect and support the rights of British citizens abroad. We use our influence to change culture and attitudes and support equality, in particular on gender, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) equality, leading by example.

Background

The 2010 Equality strategy: building a fairer Britain set out the coalition government’s approach to equality, based on the Equality Act 2010 .

The strategy set out a new approach, aimed at:

  • changing culture and attitudes
  • addressing the causes of inequality
  • building a stronger, fairer and more cohesive society where equality is for everyone and is everyone’s responsibility

It explains a new role for government, promoting equality through transparency and behaviour change and working with businesses, the voluntary sector and wider civil society to create equal opportunities for everyone.

More information on our previous activity is available on the National Archive

Bills and legislation

The Equality Act 2010 bans unfair treatment and helps achieve equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society. The Act prohibits unfair treatment in access to employment and private and public services regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. More information about the act is available in ‘Equality Act 2010: guidance’

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 grants civil partnerships in the UK the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.

The Government has published a consultation paper on the future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 in England and Wales

In January 2013, we introduced the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to Parliament.

Appendix 1: funding the Equality Advisory and Support Service

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We fund the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS), which provides information, advice and support on discrimination.

The service:

  • explains legal rights and remedies within discrimination legislation in England, Scotland and Wales
  • explains options for informal resolution and helps people to pursue them
  • refers people to conciliation or mediation services

It also helps people find out if they’re eligible for legal aid and, if not, helps them find accessible legal services so that they can prepare and place claims themselves.

Appendix 2: funding the Equality and Human Rights Commission

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We sponsor the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), a non departmental public body set up under the Equality Act 2006. We also appoint its board of commissioners to make sure it does its job well.

The EHRC promotes and monitors equality and human rights, and provides institutional support for the Human Rights Act.

The EHRC works to promote:

  • fairness and equal opportunity in the UK’s future economy
  • fair access to public services, and autonomy and dignity in services provided
  • dignity and respect, and safeguarding people’s safety

We are working with the EHRC to carry out the reforms set out in ‘Building a fairer Britain: reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission: response to the consultation’.

Appendix 3: women in the workplace

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We want to help women to reach their potential in the workplace, and to help businesses get the full economic benefit of women’s skills.

Women’s Business Council

The Women’s Business Council advises the government and businesses on issues such as women returning to work and how to get more women into executive positions. It reported its findings to government in June 2013.

Women on Boards

We are encouraging companies to implement the results of the Women on Boards review, published by Lord Davies in February 2011.

The review recommended that UK listed companies in the FTSE 100 should have a minimum 25% female board member representation by 2015. It also recommended that FTSE 350 companies should set their own challenging targets.

Think, Act, Report

We have set up Think, Act, Report, a voluntary programme to improve gender equality in the workplace. It encourages organisations to share what they’re doing to promote gender equality around issues including recruitment, retention, promotion and pay.

Appendix 4: body confidence campaign

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Evidence shows that popular culture places burdens on people’s wellbeing and self esteem, often resulting in low confidence and self-consciousness. This can contribute to lowered aspirations and psychological wellbeing and heightened vulnerability to risky behaviours. Boys and men are affected as well as girls and women, but there is a particularly marked impact on women’s choices and life chances.

We work with organisations across government and industry to address the causes of low levels of body confidence in our society by:

  • raising awareness of body image and raising debate
  • working with industry (media, retail, advertising, fitness, fashion and beauty) to represent and celebrate a wider range of sizes, shapes and ethnicity in images of men, women and children
  • encouraging girls’ aspirations and confidence in their full value and social contribution

We have:

Our 2013 body confidence progress report gives more detail on the campaign so far.

Working with other departments

The body confidence campaign team is part of the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and works closely with other departments on related policy areas. We are addressing body confidence across government through the following programmes.

The public health responsibility deal

The public health responsibility deal, set up with the Department of Health, taps into the potential for businesses and other organisations to improve public health and address health inequalities through their influence over food, alcohol, physical activity and health in the workplace.

Healthy lives, healthy people

In October 2011, the Department of Health published ‘Healthy lives, healthy people: our strategy for public health in England’, which sets out how a wide range of partners can work together to make sure that people get the right support and information to help them reach and maintain a healthier weight.

Letting children be children

On 6 June 2011, Reg Bailey published his independent review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children, ‘Letting children be children’, which calls on government, businesses and broadcasters to play their part and protect children from the increasingly sexualised ‘wallpaper’ that surrounds them.

In response to the Bailey review, the UK’s media regulators have launched ParentPort. This website helps people understand the standards expected from the media, make a complaint and share their views with the regulators.

Further information

We are not responsible for the content of external websites.

Appendix 5: making it easier for disabled people to stand for election

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Strategy gives support for disabled people who want to get elected, for example as an MP or as a local Councillor, including Town and Parish Councils.

As part of this strategy, the government has:

The Fund helps disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials with any disability-related costs of standing for election, including

  • difficulties using public transport
  • paying for sign language interpreters
  • paying extra travel or accommodation costs for a carer

Individuals can receive grants from £250-£40,000. Applications are open until the end of March 2015.

Further information

Guidance for political parties

Read blogs from Geraint Rennie, Vincent Torr and David Nicholson on taking part in the Speakers Parliamentary Placement Scheme.

Appendix 6: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty that grants all children and young people (aged 17 and under) a comprehensive set of rights.

The UK signed the convention on 19 April 1990, ratified it on 16 December 1991 and it came into force on 15 January 1992. All UK government policies and practices must comply with the UNCRC. We report to the United Nations (UN) every 5 years on the progress we are making in implementing the convention.

The Department for Education co-ordinates and publishes these reports on behalf of the UK government.

In 2010, we published a report assessing how well our legislation supports the UNCRC.

We submitted the UK government’s fifth periodic review report to the UN committee on 23 May 2014. The report looks into how successful the UK has been at implementing the UNCRC since 2008.

There are 4 children’s commissioners responsible for promoting and protecting children’s rights in the UK:

Their work supports our commitment to comply with the UNCRC.

You can find more information on the UNCRC from the UNICEF website.

Appendix 7: equal marriage

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

What the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act does

The Act, which mainly extends to England and Wales only:

  • enables same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies;

  • ensures those religious organisations that wish to do so can opt in to conduct marriage ceremonies for same sex couples;

  • protects religious organisations and their representatives from successful legal challenge, if they do not wish to marry same sex couples;

  • enables civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage, if they wish;

  • enables individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage.

Implementation of the Act

  • Same sex couples not in an existing legal marriage or civil partnership can marry. The first marriages of same sex couples in England & Wales took place on Saturday 29 March 2014.

  • Same sex couples who got married abroad under foreign law and who were consequently treated as civil partners in England & Wales, have been recognised as being married in England & Wales from Thursday 13 March 2014.

  • Marriages of same sex couples in some British consulates and armed forces bases overseas have been possible since 3 June 2014, and arrangements for marriages of same sex couples in military chapels are in place.

  • Civil partners who wish to convert their civil partnership into marriage will be able to do so from Wednesday 10 December 2014, subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation.

  • Marriages formed under the law of England & Wales (or marriages formed under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom) will be allowed to continue where one or both parties change their legal gender and both parties wish to remain married, from Wednesday 10 December 2014, subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation.

  • Civil partnerships formed under the law of England & Wales will be able to continue where both parties change their legal gender simultaneously and wish to remain in their civil partnership, from Wednesday 10 December 2014, subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation.

Reviews required by the Act

On Thursday 26 June 2014, the Government published:

(a) reports on:

(b) a consultation on:

Further information

Appendix 8: promoting and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Real progress has been made towards LGB&T equality in recent years.

But from homophobic bullying in our schools to tragic incidents of hate crime, too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face outdated prejudice because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, at every stage in their lives.

We work to remove barriers that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can face and to advance their opportunities in all areas of life, including family, work and schools.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality Action Plan

The first ever cross government Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality Action Plan, published in March 2011, reinforced our commitment to LGB&T equality and outlined an ambitious range of actions we will take from tackling homophobic bullying in schools, and improving our response rate to hate crime, to promoting LGB&T rights abroad.

Actions from our LGBT Equality Action Plan that we have taken include:

  • introducing legislation to enable same-sex couples to get married

  • amending Schedule 20 to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 so that we now recognise 75 overseas same-sex partnerships as equivalent to UK civil partnerships, 50 more than when the Act was originally enacted

  • changing the law to allow same-sex couples to register their civil partnership on religious premises on a permissive basis

  • introducing legislation to disregard consensual gay sex convictions, under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

  • launching the Sports Charter which calls for anyone with a sporting interest to come together against homophobic and transphobic discrimination in sport. To date we have over 3,300 signatories committed to taking action

  • helping schools to address homophobic and transphobic bullying, with revised advice for headteachers and school governing bodies

Transgender Equality Action Plan

We recognise that the transgender community can face distinct challenges that sometimes need to be addressed separately. That is why we published the world’s first transgender equality action plan in December 2011, which lays out real actions to address the specific challenges that transgender people can face in their daily lives

Actions from our Transgender Equality Action Plan that we have taken include:

  • increasing the length of sentences for those convicted of hate crime directed at transgender people

  • publishing the “Challenge it, Report it, Stop it” action plan to tackle all forms of hate crime, including homophobic and transphobic hate crime

  • promoting the rights of transgender people by supporting businesses and public bodies such as schools and health services so they have the right information to support transgender people

Have your say

We have made good progress against action plan commitments and have also legislated for equal marriage. But it is still important that we know what issues LGB&T people continue to face and which act as barriers to equality, so we can consider where to focus our efforts.

You can get in touch with us via email at: enquiries@culture.gsi.gov.uk.

You can sign up to our online LGB&T mailing list.

Further information

Appendix 9: the social model of disability

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We encourage the use of the social model as a way of understanding disability. It says that disability is created by barriers in society.

The barriers generally fall into 3 categories:

  • the environment – including inaccessible buildings and services
  • people’s attitudes – stereotyping, discrimination and prejudice
  • organisations – inflexible policies, practices and procedures

What is the medical model of disability?

Many people think that disability is caused by an individual’s health condition or impairment. This approach is called the medical model of disability.

The medical model says that by fixing their body, disabled people will be able to participate in society like everyone else. This is an outdated model that is not supported by disabled people or their organisations.

Why use the social model of disability?

Using the social model helps identify solutions to the barriers disabled people experience. It encourages the removal of these barriers within society, or the reduction of their effects, rather than trying to fix an individual’s impairment or health condition.

The social model is the preferred model for disabled people and encourages society to be more inclusive.

Appendix 10: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People is an international human rights treaty that grants disabled people a comprehensive set of rights.

The UK ratified the convention in July 2009. All UK government policies and practices must comply with the convention. The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) coordinates work on the convention on behalf of the UK government. In November 2011, we published the first UK report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

The Optional Protocol to the convention

The government has also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This allows people to complain to the United Nations if they feel that their convention rights have not been met and they have tried all means of complaint in the UK.

The language of the UN convention

The government supports use of the social model of disability. An international committee with differing approaches to disability drafted the convention, so the language of the convention does not reflect the model the UK government would prefer.

The full title of the convention is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but within the UK we usually call it the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

More information

Read the full text of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read more about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the UN website.

Easy read

We’ve also published easy read explanations of the UN convention:

Appendix 11: Think, Act, Report

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Think, Act, Report provides a simple step-by-step framework to help companies think about gender equality in their workforces, particularly in relation to recruitment, retention, promotion and pay.

Think, Act, Report encourages companies to:

  • Think: identify any issues around gender equality, collecting and considering relevant data from across the company
  • Act: take action to address those issues
  • Report: on progress, publish information on how they are doing, sharing best practice and case studies

Companies supporting the initiative range from those just starting to think about gender equality issues to those with action plans and reporting mechanisms already in place. What they share is a common desire to be more transparent about workforce issues and disseminate best practice.

Leading companies, such as Tesco, Bupa, Centrica, Royal Bank of Scotland, Unilever, BAE Systems, easyjet, Carillion, Eversheds and BT are already involved, see a full list of the companies that have joined the scheme.

Sign up now

If you are representing an organisation you can sign up to Think, Act, Report through our online registration form.

Why we need to Think, Act, Report

Despite progress over many years, the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings is still 20%. This is partly because the vast majority of low-paid jobs, in areas such as secretarial work and childcare, are still done by women. The evidence also suggests that, even when they are working in better paid professions, women generally occupy less senior positions than men, and are less well-paid than their male peers for comparable jobs. Greater transparency about these issues is the best way to address them.

Think, Act, Report infographic showing the changing labour markets View the Think, Act, Report changing labour markets infographic on Flickr

Gender pay gap infographic

You can view a larger version of this infographic explaining the gender pay gap on our Flickr

Reporting the gender pay gap

Think, Act, Report encourages companies to publish as much information as possible (including their gender pay gap), but it’s a voluntary initiative and companies can choose what they make public, and where.

Gender pay gap infographic by profession

You can view a larger version of this infographic explaining the gender pay gap by profession on our Flickr

Information companies should report

You can choose to report the measures that you consider the most relevant and appropriate. The framework lists 3 types of measures: but there is no expectation that you will report on all of these:

  • narrative measures: a description of the organisation’s approach and actions, to provide context for any figures that are reported (this could include results from staff surveys)
  • workforce measures: for example, the gender composition of the workforce as a whole, or representation at different levels
  • pay measures: for example, the overall gender pay gap, full-time gender pay gap for men and women’s starting salaries

The Government has supported an amendment to the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill which will pave the way for mandatory reporting of the differences in pay between male and female employees for larger businesses.

The impact of having children on the employment rates of men and women

You can view a larger version of this infographic explaining impact of having children on employment rates on our Flickr

Benefits of joining Think, Act, Report

There are strong reputational benefits for being recognised as thinking and acting on barriers for women and reporting on progress. Making public the work you are undertaking to support and promote your female employees helps to make your organisation a more attractive place to work, thereby helping you to recruit, retain and develop talented female members of staff.

Research shows that companies with more diverse boards achieve higher sales and higher returns. It also shows that women make 70% of household purchasing decisions. Companies need decision-makers who can understand and respond to their customers. It will help you understand your customers better and shows your commitment to doing the right thing.

If you are already one of the best employers for women, why not champion the principles of Think, Act, Report? Be a leader in your sector and encourage others to follow. Promoting your support for Think, Act, Report will give you an opportunity to highlight the good work you are doing.

Appendix 12: Childcare Business Grant Scheme

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We want to encourage more good quality, affordable and reliable childcare to give working families more childcare provision choices. This scheme will also help entrepreneurs to start up and run their own businesses.

The Childcare Business Grants Scheme has been created to boost the provision of childcare in England. You can apply to the scheme if you are intending to set up a new childcare business and from 1 April 2015 you can apply if you either intending to set up a new childcare business or have already set one up and have been trading for less than 12 months, following award of your Ofsted/CMA (Childminder Agency) certificate. You can apply to the scheme to:

  • get a small grant to help you with the costs of getting trained and registered
  • access a business mentor, to support and advise you as you start and/or grow your business
  • access business advice tailored to the childcare sector

Grants

There are 3 types of grant you can apply for which depend on the type of childcare business you are setting up or have already established. From 1 April 2015 the amounts you can apply for are up to:

  1. £500 for new childminding businesses (a childminder is someone who looks after children in their own home, either alone or with help from one or two other adults)

  2. £1000 for new childminding businesses (as above) that intend to provide care for disabled children

  3. £1000 for larger childcare businesses, including nurseries and out-of-school clubs (which are usually run in a specialist building), and childcare businesses on domestic premises (in someone’s home, but with 4 or more adults working there)

Non-eligibility

You will be ineligible for a grant if you set up your childcare business and have been trading for more than one year following award of your Ofsted/CMA certificate. Grants are for England only and are not available for people intending to work as nannies or au pairs.

Visit the childcare business grants scheme website to find out how to apply

Access a business mentor

If you are thinking about starting a new business, you should get yourself a business mentor. This is free, and can make a big difference to your chances of setting up a successful business.

Business mentors have the practical experience, contacts and expertise to help you start a business. A mentor acts as an independent sounding board and can provide guidance and support, helping you to explore how your business will work, and develop important business skills.

How to find a free mentor

  • Visit the “Find a Mentor” section of the mentors me website
  • Select ‘start-up’ from the ‘Business life stage’ menu, enter your region and select ‘show mentors’
  • In the results page select ‘free’ from ‘Types of service’

In some cases, you will need to provide some details about yourself and your business. All these organisations offer a free service and you should not have to pay for anything.

Specialist business advice

Lots of organisations provide advice specifically to help you through the process of starting a business. The advice on the websites listed below is free, but in some cases the organisations will want you to join before they give you more tailored advice. You may find it useful to join such an organisation – which can provide on-going support and advice, and may give you free insurance or other advantages for your business – but you should be clear what you are getting in return before you join any organisation.

Steps to starting a childminding business:

  1. Speak to your local authority to discuss the need for childcare in your area, and to find suitable approved training courses

  2. Consider applying for a childcare business grant

  3. Get yourself a business mentor through the mentors me website and follow the instructions set out above

  4. Complete a local authority approved childcare training course, and child protection training

  5. Complete a first aid course (you’ll need to complete a paediatric first aid course if you intend to work with children under 5)

  6. Get an enhanced criminal record check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for you and anyone else over 16 who is either involved in the business or living in your house (this used to be known as a CRB check). The cost of these checks will be subsidised in full for applications received no later than 28 June 2013

  7. Get public liability insurance for your home. This is mandatory and will protect you if one of the children or a member of staff has an accident on your premises

  8. Get a health certificate from your doctor. Ofsted will provide you with a health form to fill in. You will need to fill in parts A and B, and get your doctor to fill in part C

  9. Register with Ofsted to get your home inspected