Equality and human rights legal framework – Government action
UK Government actions
- In December 2020, the UK Government announced the establishment of an Independent Human Rights Act Review, to consider how the Act is working in practice and whether change is needed. A call for evidence closed in March 2021.
- In December 2020, the UK Government reiterated its commitment to introduce the UK Shared Prosperity Fund as a replacement for European Union (EU) structural funds. EU structural funds have supported projects that have implications for equality and human rights in Britain.
- On 25 March 2020, the Coronavirus Act gained Royal Assent, and since 26 March 2020 England has been governed by a series of coronavirus health protection regulations, which contain provisions with significant implications for equality and human rights.
- In June 2018, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2018 gained Royal Assent. The Act set out arrangements for the UK to leave the EU, including arrangements which alter the human rights legal framework by excluding the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights from domestic law.
- In March 2018, the UK Government committed to implement rules in the Equality Act 2010 requiring ‘reasonable adjustments’ to common parts of private rented accommodation (to ensure accessibility for disabled people), subject to an assessment of the burdens this might put on English local authorities. In July 2020, the Government stated this review was ongoing.
Welsh Government actions
The Human Rights Act 1998 and Equality Act 2010 are reserved to the UK Government. The Welsh Government has powers within the Equality Act 2010 to make subordinate legislation and is also able to legislate to incorporate human rights or to provide additional human rights protections.
- In March 2021, the socio-economic duty, which aims to tackle socio-economic inequality, came into force in Wales, following a 2020 commitment from the Welsh Government to commence the duty under the Equality Act 2010. Interim guidance for public bodies to prepare for implementation of the duty became Statutory Guidance in March 2021.
- In 2020, the Welsh Government consented to provisions in the UK Coronavirus Act applying to Wales and since then has introduced a series of Coronavirus Health Protection (Wales) Regulations, containing restrictions for individuals and businesses.
- In 2020, the Welsh Government responded to recommendations from the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s report on the inquiry on Children’s Rights in Wales, including committing to publish an annual update of progress against recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
- The Welsh Government committed in its Strategic Equality Plan 2020–24 to review the Welsh Regulations under the Public Sector Equality Duty.
- In 2020, the Welsh Government published guidelines for health and social care on Making Rights Work for Older People, to support the requirement on public authorities to have due regard to the UN Principles on Older Persons under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
- In July 2019, the Welsh Government established a Strengthening and Advancing Equality and Human Rights Steering Group and, in January 2020, commissioned research on strengthening equality and human rights in Wales, including the potential incorporation of UN treaties.
- Though not yet fully implemented, the Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 provides that a person exercising functions under the Act must have due regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.