Equality and diversity at Suffolk Coastal
Suffolk Coastal is working closely with Waveney District Council to effectively promote access to services for all its communities and support community cohesion to improve the quality of lives of its residents.
Recognising our diverse communities, Suffolk Coastal works closely with partners to ensure that our residents are treated equally and fairly through the delivery of our services and in our community leadership role.
Both Councils are working to meet their obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 and three specific duties:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation
- Advance equality of opportunity across equality groups
- Foster good relations between different equality groups
Policies and key actions and decisions are taken in consideration of the wider community (nine protected characteristic groups) which include the following:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race (including ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality)
- Religion or belief
- Sex (gender)
- Sexual orientation
- Socially excluded
Suffolk Coastal and Waveney have added a tenth equality group (socially excluded) based on the socio-demographics and pockets of deprivation that exist, particularly in rural communities.
The Councils' joint approach
Suffolk Coastal and Waveney have adopted a broad approach to meeting their equality duty and to promote access to services for all of their communities, as follows:
Services for All Group - a single Equality and Diversity group represented by service areas and councillors working across both Councils to drive equality improvements through a progressive action plan and provision of training and development.
Human Resources - the aim of the Human Resources and Payroll (HR) Team is to drive the transformation and organisational development of both Councils, while at the same time ensuring the Councils are meeting their ethical and legal responsibilities in respect of all employment and workforce matters including the equality duty.
The HR & Payroll team ensures that both Councils have the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time to deliver our vision and objectives. They do this by providing services, advice and guidance on people management matters and by leading on organisational development and the workforce development strategy. This work ensures that both Councils have a productive and skilled workforce, enables the Corporate Management Team to plan in the medium to long term what staff it will need, engages and supports staff in organisational change and has effective policies in place which support diversity and good people management.
Training and development provision - regular training workshops are provided across both Councils to councillors and officers including equality and diversity duties and responsibilities, equality impact analysis, safeguarding children, community mapping. Staff maintain up-to-date awareness through attendance at equality and diversity training, seminars and workshops and working closely with minority groups, voluntary sector and community organisations and with partners.
Equality impact analysis (EqIA) - both Councils carry out equality impact analysis where appropriate to promote access to services for their wider communities, eliminate discrimination and advance equality in the actions, policies and decisions that both Councils take. The EqIA form serves as a useful prompt when considering the wider community and to record the positive actions, decisions and outcomes taken through the analysis process.
Single equality scheme - the Councils have adopted a single equality scheme which you can view by following the link below:
Community mapping - councillors and officers are informed and updated of their community make-up, demographic changes and key community issues on an annual basis, through workshops, state of the district reports and through links to other data sources, Suffolk Observatory, for example. This information and knowledge is used to inform the EqIA process, prioritising and key decisions.
Consultation and engagement in Suffolk Coastal
Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) - LSPs bring together local councils, other public sector agencies, the business sector, and the third sector (voluntary and community organisations) to agree a vision for the area and put in place actions to deliver that vision.
The Suffolk Coastal LSP has built a track record of making a difference on the ground through collaborative, outcome-focused working. The partnership board has a clear vision and set of priorities and the LSP working groups bring together practitioners and experts in their fields to shape action plans and ensure that the priorities for Suffolk Coastal are delivered. These arrangements have enabled the LSP board to successfully oversee delivery at a comparatively local level, whilst operating in a strategic setting.
Suffolk Coastal Resource Network (SCRN) - Suffolk Coastal is a member of the SCRN steering group. SCRN is a network of voluntary and public sector organisations that provide services for front-line voluntary, community and faith organisations.
The key objectives for SCRN are to:
- Facilitate and support community led planning
- Develop the community and voluntary sector to deliver key services
- Co-ordinate the support for the community and voluntary sector from key agencies
- Increase the participation of Suffolk Coastal citizens in informal and formal volunteering
Further direct engagement
Suffolk Coastal is working to ensure that communities have a ‘voice’ and a say in service provision and Council issues. This is achieved through the engagement and close working and support of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, older people groups, Optua and the Local Access Forum.
We recently consulted communities regarding our medium term financial strategy to inform the prioritisation of the budgeting process. This consultation was open to all stakeholders, and also used Suffolk Speaks (new window), an online consultation tool developed in partnership with other Suffolk authorities to increase public involvement.
We are working closely with partners in the Suffolk Coastal Resource Network (including Suffolk Acre) to promote community led planning in the district’s towns and parishes to facilitate wider community engagement and responsibility.
Use of existing consultation feedback
Consultation reports and other reliable sources of information are also used to inform service design, prioritising and decision making, reducing ‘consultation overload’ and promoting efficiency. Sources include the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transsexual (LGB&T) survey, Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), Suffolk Needs Assessment and the Suffolk Observatory.
Suffolk Coastal will continue to conduct internal and external equality monitoring to inform its policies and ensure that it is meeting its commitment to equal opportunity for all staff and its communities.
To meet this commitment, we will on occasions request information relating to the ‘protected characteristics’. We understand that some people will be reluctant to provide personal information relating for example to their age or sexuality and we will respect their decision. We will treat the information that is provided with discretion and appropriate confidentiality and data controls. The information will be used to ensure that we are providing employment and services in a fair, accessible and equitable manner.
A number of our front facing services are in regular contact, engagement and discussion with customers and use the feedback and information received from them to inform their particular service.
Suffolk Coastal takes its equality duties and responsibilities seriously and through its Services for All group will drive the continuous improvement in access to services for all of the district's communities. To this end, the Council's Services For All group is addressing a progressive action plan to improve its policies and improvements and is also driving our equality objectives to ensure the Council meets the needs of our most vulnerable communities and achieve our statutory Equality duty.
Our equality objectives include promoting access to services for all our communities, a focus on young people, and improving Councillor and officer awareness of the needs, values and cultures of the wider community of the district.
The Council will keep the objectives and action plan under continuous review and will update from time to time as required.
Objectives will be further informed through the district mapping exercise, state of the district report and feedback received from our customers and communities.
We will continually review and update our equality information and this website as we continue to make progress in meeting our equality duty.