The implementation of the public sector equality duty by local authorities: a case study of the London Borough of Southwark

Effiom, Sylvanus Bisong (2012) The implementation of the public sector equality duty by local authorities: a case study of the London Borough of Southwark. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

Equality is a central concept in the development of a liberal society. However, its implementation in Britain raises issues of great concern to persons with disabilities. Such issues include the following: (i) the under representation of persons with disabilities in the labour force resulting in their over dependency on welfare benefits; (ii) the prevalence of institutional discrimination that has left public authorities unable to respond appropriately to the rights and felt needs of persons with disabilities; and (iii) the inadequacy of a regulatory framework to deal comprehensively with issues of societal discrimination against and marginalisation of persons with disabilities. Using the London Borough of Southwark as a case study, this thesis finds that the statutory duty on public authorities to promote equality represents an advancement of the rights-based perspective of disability and that Southwark council seems to be moving closer to this position. However, the duty is still not being implemented fully in the way Parliament intended, resulting in the continuing failure to respect the rights of persons with disabilities to equality and non-discrimination. To resolve these deficiencies and on the basis of: (i) a comprehensive literature review; (ii) an analysis of the current legal and policy framework on disability discrimination and equality and of; (iii) an empirical study of equality management in the London borough of Southwark for an exploration of the legal issues that flow from the implementation of the Equality duty by public authorities, the study exposes certain tensions between the twin currents of anti-discrimination legislation; positive duties and negative compliance, individual and group rights, equality and Human rights, reactive and anticipatory reasonable adjustments and makes practical suggestions for reconciling the two approaches. It also highlights certain issues of principle that should be addressed if the managerial thinking that drives the equality agenda in our local authorities is helpfully to adapt to the law. The study also highlights attractive features of the substantive equality paradigm for achieving equality for persons with disabilities and stresses respect for the autonomy, independence and sense of dignity and self worth of this group of citizens. However, the picture that emerges is of a statutory landscape pulled in different directions. The culture of negative compliance may still have the upper hand in our local authorities, but it has not completely undermined the forces of rational change encapsulated in the duty on public authorities to promote equality. This is what makes critical theory possible and makes the presentation of this thesis a worthwhile endeavour.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas:Theses
School of Law > Law
ID Code:9136
Deposited On:25 May 2012 09:09
Last Modified:23 Jul 2014 13:41

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