Equalities Update Report

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1 Equalities Update Report 1. PURPOSE OF REPORT 1.1 The purpose of this report is to outline the progress which has been achieved against our three corporate equality objectives during the period April 2013 to March BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT 2.1 The public sector equality duty comprises a general duty and specific duties. The specific equality duties require local authorities to publish one or more equality objectives, at least every four years. 2.2 In accordance with the specific duties, Rochdale Council published 3 corporate equality objectives by 6 April These objectives were identified as key priorities by our stakeholders at Rochdale Council s Annual Equality Listening Event which was held in January These objectives are: 1: Promoting equality through effective communications 2: Promoting equality by developing a workforce which is representative of our diverse community 3: Promoting equality by knowing our diverse community and understanding its changing needs. 1

2 3. PROGRESS TO DATE Objective 1: Promoting Equality Through Effective Communications What We Said We Would Do We will implement a new website which is task focused, usable for customers and easy to navigate. We will support the use of the website by customers who are digitally excluded, including those with a protected characteristic, by developing a volunteer support network in our libraries, building on the success of our existing volunteers and digital champions. We will promote positive images of the protected groups We will work effectively with the media and partners to promote a positive image of the Borough, responsible reporting and Community Cohesion. We will ensure front line staff are trained to support the needs of protected and nonprotected groups What We Have Done We have implemented a new website In January 2014 we went live with a new task and customer focused website. This website is accessible to blind people who use assistive technology. We have received positive feedback from residents, staff and people through Twitter. A strong focus of this website was its usability and accessibility. As a result of this the launch of this website has brought many positive comments from both staff and customers. Here is just a short selection: "Nice new web site..." "Like it..." "This is great overall..." "It looks great..." "Just had a look at the new website, it looks great, and really easy to navigate..." "I do like how interactive it is and, it is a big improvement on the previous website..." "I had a quick look on the site to see how it is and I m impressed. It is easy to use and it is quick to find the area of information that you may need. Great." "I think the website appears better..." "Looks ultra slick, Nice job, Good improvement." "The new website is looking really good and seems from a quick play to be nice and easy to navigate..." "Generally the new look is great..." Here are just a few reasons why we have made changes: To make the website more accessible and easy to use. We aim to deliver our Council website to World Wide Web AA standards as a minimum to ensure our website is accessible. We undertake usability testing with a range 2

3 of residents to ensure the website is easy to use and easy to navigate. To make it quicker for customers to obtain the information which they want by making popular content more prominent on our website. To meet our customers requirements and their changing needs. Customers expect the website to be responsive to mobile devices. Evidence suggests more and more people are engaging with our website using mobile devices i.e. phone, IPad, tablets. Web pages are regularly reviewed and revised to ensure that they are accurate, relevant and usable. We revise the content and readability of the information held on our website and ensure that this information is suitable for the intended audience. For example we created a section for Welfare Reform. The content for this section was researched, created, tested, iterated, retested, and made live. This process continues for the lifecycle of the section. We put users at the heart of our online service delivery by involving them in testing and codesigning our website. We have supported the use of the website by customers who are digitally excluded, including those with a protected characteristic, by developing a volunteer support network in our libraries All 17 libraries provide free Internet access, with support available from staff. Ten libraries offer weekly basis IT awareness sessions, supported by a network of volunteers. A total of 30 hours support a week is available. The volunteers help residents in gaining basic IT skills through a series of online training courses providing them with the skills and confidence they would need to use computers and the internet. In 2013 libraries supported around 500 learners, many of those absolute beginners, in getting online. This has given them the confidence and skills to increase their independent living through easier access to communication tools and public services online. Since Autumn 2013, there has been a marked increase in the number of support given to people seeking employment. This is partly due to the shifting of job applications on-line with the introduction of Universal Jobmatch and joint initiatives with Department for Work and Pensions and local Job Centre Plus. We have set up a joint initiative with DWP, running Universal Jobmatch awareness sessions for staff and volunteers and Jobs and Skills sessions for residents including clients referred from the Job Centre. So far in we have achieved the following: 20 volunteers have been recruited 10 Libraries have been offering sessions supported by IT Volunteers 464 people have been supported 119 Online Basics Courses have been completed 60 Online Plus Courses have been completed 289 Other courses* have been completed We have promoted positive images of the protected groups We take care to add a balance of images on the website and this includes adding positive images of the protected groups. 3

4 We ensure that images used in media release and marketing materials are representative of protected groups, and provide literature in alternative formats and languages upon request. We will work effectively with the media and partners to promote a positive image of the Borough, responsible reporting and Community Cohesion. Objective 2: Promoting Equality by Developing a Workforce which is Representative of our Diverse Community What We Said We Would Do Report on the outcome of the review of the Inclusive Workforce Strategy Agree and implement the renewed Inclusive Workforce Strategy for using the statistics for the Borough from the 2011 Census to establish new workforce targets Publish an annual progress report on the Inclusive Workforce Strategy Undertake a review of the approach to external recruitment to encourage greater opportunity for diversity within the Council across the protected characteristics Further develop information monitoring to include all the protected groups. This includes: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Continue to work closely with external organisations to support managers to recruit and retain applicants who have declared a disability Review recruitment and employee health and well-being procurement arrangements to ensure contractors are compliant with equalities legislation Provide equality and diversity training to all staff Undertake a programme of equality impact assessments for all core Human Resources policies for the period Produce quarterly reports on the recruitment What We Have Done We have: reported the outcome of the review of the Inclusive Workforce Strategy to the Council`s Equality Programme Board reviewed the Inclusive Workforce Strategy using the statistics for the Borough from the 2011 Census and provided progress reports on the Inclusive Workforce Strategy undertaken a review of the approach to external recruitment to encourage greater opportunity for diversity within the Council considered our current information monitoring to assess the extent to which it can be extended to include all the protected groups. continued to work closely with external organisations to support managers to recruit and retain applicants who have declared a disability reviewed recruitment and employee health and well-being procurement arrangements to ensure contractors are compliant with equalities legislation provided equality and diversity policy information to all staff been undertaking a programme of equality impact assessments for all core Human 4

5 Resources policies produced quarterly workforce profiles Objective 3: Promoting equality by knowing our diverse community and understanding its changing needs What We Said We Would Do Continuously develop our intelligence around equalities. We will prioritise efforts around gaps in knowledge relating to the new protected characteristics. We will continue the expansion of our local information system, Stats and Maps with new and updated datasets, increasing our intelligence and understanding around each thematic area. In addition, with the release of the 2011 Census outputs in late 2012, our current data gaps around topics such as ethnicity, and nationality will be filled. Further develop data sharing with partners. We will continue to undertake work around the formalisation and updating of data sharing agreements with partners. Also through the Open Data agenda we will help to ensure data is shared and supplied using common formats and methods. Partners are able to identify how communities are changing and the impact this may have on equality priorities and service planning. With the release of the 2011 Census Outputs, analysis will be taking place looking at how our local communities have changed over the past 10 years between the censuses. This can then be used to inform service planning. Draw upon a wide range of information held by partner organisations based within the Borough and within the North West Region and also national data sources. Stats and Maps will continue to hold national, regional and local information allowing comparisons between the three. Further develop our service monitoring arrangements Collect people s views and identify equality issues through for example, customer insight initiatives, local forums, and our Youth Parliament etc. What We Have Done We have continuously developed our data around equalities Over the past year we have continued to develop our intelligence around the makeup of the borough by producing a number of research reports analysing the data from the 2011 Census. Topics such as age structure, ethnicity, and religion have been analysed comparing our population to regional and national figures. These reports are able to be downloaded from Stats and Maps. We have developed new process consultation guidance for collecting people s views and to identify equality issues We have recently produced new process guidance around carrying out consultation with communities, specifically ensuring that information about the protected groups is collected when carrying out all consultation. This will ensure we have a greater quantity of quality of information around how service prevision changes affect the protected groups. The development of a customer insight strategy is still planned, and this will tie into the newly formed Customer Intelligence group 5

6 Enabling partners to identify how communities are changing and the impact this may have on equality priorities and service planning. Stats and Maps has been continuously updated through the last year and a new joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA) section has recently been launched. This allows members of the public and partners to profile different population groups to understand them from a needs perspective. The remaining 2011 Census data will also be loaded on to Stats and Maps over the next few months Extended our range of information by drawing up information held by partner organisations based within the Borough and within the North West Region and also national data sources. And also further develop our service monitoring arrangements We are in the process of purchasing updated Experian Mosaic Customer Data and this will enable us to update our customer profiles and characteristics. A large data collection and analysis exercise is underway to understand customer delivery models, who is accessing services and to inform our Public Service Reform Work across all the Public Service Reform agencies. This will provide information on protected groups and could help us to flag up areas where they are not accessing services. 6

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