I have great sympathy with anyone who has lost their job, or who may be at risk of losing their job, at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I am also concerned that reductions in funding at the Commission since 2010 and related redundancies will make it more difficult for the Commission to carry out its vital work.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission was established in 2007 to protect people against discriminatory treatment and to hold organisations such as businesses and Government to account for what they do. I believe it is important that there is a strong, independent organisation to enforce equality and human rights legislation.
In June 2010, the Conservative Government reduced the Commission’s annual budget from £62 million to £55 million. The budget in 2016-17 was £20.4 million and it has now been confirmed that this will fall further, with £19.3 million allocated for 2017-18, £18.3 million for 2018-19, and £17.4 million for 2019-20. This will mean a reduction of 68% between 2010 and 2020.
The Conservative Government believes that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is receiving sufficient funds to enable it to fulfil its statutory functions. However, I am concerned that the Commission is unable to focus on the work it needs to deliver because of these cuts and I believe that the Government should halt any further reductions to the Commission’s budget.
I oppose further cuts to the budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and I and my Labour colleagues will continue to press the Government on this funding issue.