Requirements of Local and Public Services

For local Authorities and public bodies, the act that you are protected by as a disabled person is called the Public Sector Equality Duty. This act includes the Equality Act 2010 which says public authorities must comply with the public sector equality duty and in addition to their duty not to discriminate against you. 

The duty aims to make sure public authorities and services think about things like discrimination and the needs of people who are disadvantaged or suffer inequality, when they make decisions about how they provide their services and implement policies. Really, this duty ensures that public authorities and organisations consider their behavior in relation to your disability, as well as the contractual, policy and communicative side.

The public sector equality duty is a duty to consider or think about how the policies or decisions that are in place, have an effect on people who are protected under the Equality Act. Private organisations and individuals do not have to comply with this duty, but must comply to the Equality Act 2010. If a public authority hasn't properly considered it's public sector equality duty, you can challenge this. 

What must public authorities do to comply with the duty?

When public authorities carry out their functions, the Equality Act says they must have due regard or think about the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination

  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t

  • Foster or encourage good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t

Having due regard means public authorities must consciously consider or think about the need to do the three things set out in the public sector equality duty. It's the courts who decide if a public authority has done enough to comply with the duty.

The Equality Act also specifies that public authorities should think about the need to:

  • Remove or reduce disadvantages suffered by people because of a protected characteristic

  • Meet the needs of people with protected characteristics

  • Encourage people with protected characteristics to participate in public life and other activities

If you feel like you will be or have been affected by the way a public authority has made a decision about how it delivers its services or implements a policy, or even in the conduct of their behaviour; then please believe in yourself and take appropriate action to eliminate to settle that dismissed feeling that just won't sit right.

Specific duties

Public authorities also have specific duties under the Equality Act to help them comply with the public sector equality duty. Public authorities must:

  • Publish equality information at least once a year to show how they’ve complied with the equality duty

  • Prepare and publish equality objectives at least every 4 years

What to do when discrimination happens to you?

  1. Follow the complaints procedure of the public authority, it is important to follow the advised process. 

  2. If you are unable to resolve the issue with the company direct, it may be wise to involve an ombudsman. You can ask the company or organisation to refer you to the appropriate ombudsman. For local authorities, government and social care, the Local Government Ombudsman can be reported to.

  3. If you do not reach a solution with the Ombudsmen assistance, you can request information on the court in which you will be required to apply. You can find more information on how to apply to courts on both the CAB and UK Government website

Discrimination can occur in schools also. The school complaints procedure should be published on the school’s website. It should tell you what kind of complaints the school will deal with, such as bullying or bad behaviour. If you are looking to pursue a claim against a school in the UK, follow these steps:

  1. Complain in writing to the headteacher.

  2. Complain in writing to the school’s governors or academy trustees.

  3. Once responded to, if you are not content with the outcome, you are able to complain to the Department for Education.

  4. For complaints relating to how the school is run, you are able to contact Ofsted.