Addressing institutional discrimination and inequalities associated with race and other protected characteristics takes commitment, evidence, leadership, legislative tools, a long term vision, support and time. There is always scope for improvements in the Public Sector Equality Duty’s (PSED) requirements and its practical application. The most important factor in ensuring the most effective implementation of the PSED is leadership from senior management and political leaders.  We are concerned that, despite clear support from some Ministers for action to advance equality of opportunity, the messages from other senior Government members characterise equality considerations as unnecessary ‘red tape’ are having a negative effect and undermining effective implementation of the PSED. The focus should be on improving outcomes.  This response outlines our concerns and our recommendations for the PSED.

Information about the PSED

The PSED is a piece of legislation which is designed to protect us from discrimination.  Developed in the aftermath of  the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, the PSED was a response to "institutional racism" in the police force and  combines a number of older pieces of legislation, such as the Disability Discrimination Act, Race Relations Act and Sex Discrimination Act.  It states that when public services are developed, the following "protected characteristics" should be taken into account:

  • Race
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Religion or belief
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Disability


Why does it need to be protected?

Within one year of the duty coming into force the Government decided to review the PSED as part of its "red tape challenge".  The Race Equality Coalition has a number of concerns about this review, notably that by being labelled as ‘red tape’ equality considerations are being undermined. Whilst the Coalition recognises that there is scope for improvement in the requirements and practical application of the PSED, the response argues that few pieces of legislation have been subject to this level of scrutiny, particularly when they have been in effect such a  short time. Combined with concerns about the process of the review, for example, the level of consultation with those effected by the proposed changes and the lack of clarity on the grounds on which the review will be conducted, the Coalition argues that the review has undermined the government’s apparent commitment to transparency and accountability, and to equal citizenship .

An in-depth response and recommendations from the Race Equality Coalition are available below:


ROTA campaign to protect the PSED

ROTA have recently launched a petition which allows members of the public to show their commitment to the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and challenge any efforts to undermine this important piece of legalisation. 

There is a three step plan to show your support for the PSED: 

  1. Support the campaign: Sign the petition to state your commitment to the PSED
  2. Share the campaign: Raise awareness of the petition through social media, websites, newsletters etc.
  3. Contribute to the campaign: Send us case studies showing how the PSED has helped and support you.

For more information on the campaign and more information on the PSED, please visit the PSED campaign website.


Race Equality Foundation newsletter

The Race Equality Foundation has also commissioned Leander Neckles to produce articles for our newsletter which focus on various legislative changes, including the PSED review:

If you would like to automatically receive Leander's bulletins, please register for the Race Equality Foundation's monthly newsletter