Monday, 8 August 2011
The watchdog set up to combat discrimination in the UK constantly talks Britain down and should be scrapped, a damning new report reveals today.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission peddles flawed philosophies and costs too much, the independent think-tank Civitas says.

And if it were disbanded, not only would taxpayers be saved millions but proper ways could be found to tackle unfairness.

The scathing report by academic Jon Gower Davies says the Commission looks at issues the wrong way. It blames British unfairness for differences in people’s lives that are beyond the Government’s control and too narrowly focuses on “rights” while ignoring responsibilities.

He also criticises pay and perks at the controversial organisation, which has been publicly rebuked by the official spending watchdog over its accounts.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance called on Home Secretary and Equalities Minister Theresa May last October to disband the body.

Last night its director, Matthew Sinclair, said: “The EHRC has mismanaged millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money too many times. It has shown that it can’t be trusted to use its budget properly and should be wound up.

“There are much better uses for the millions of pounds it spends every year than this politicised and wasteful quango.”

Conservative MP Dominic Raab said: “The EHRC is costly and counter-productive. Its fixation on positive discrimination and quotas is socially divisive, anti-meritocratic and out of touch with the aspirations of modern young Britons.”

Fellow Tory MP Priti Patel said: “I am not surprised by this report as I went through the EHRC annual reports and the waste is unbelievable. They add no value.”

The watchdog has continually been in the news for its controversial judgments. In March it was criticised after saying children should be asked from age 11 if they were gay, with records kept of any who were “questioning” their sexuality in case they fell victim to discrimination.

Football fans were furious when the quango backed Bath City club in offering Polish supporters an 80 per cent discount on match tickets.

It also warned full-body security scanners at British airports could be illegal and would be impossible to monitor if there were discrimination in the way passengers were selected for the checks.

The Coalition has already reduced funding for the EHRC, from £70 million in 2007 to £55 million in 2010-11 and plans further cuts to £26 million in 2014-15.

A spokesman for the Government Equalities Office said it would respond shortly to a consultation it launched in March on its plans to reform the body, which could lead to it being closed down. Dr Davies is a former head of Newcastle University’s Religious Studies department and a former Labour councillor in the city. He sets out detailed criticisms in his critique, Small Corroding Words: The Slighting of Great Britain.

The EHRC started work in 2007, merging the functions of the previous Equal Opportunities, Disability Rights and Racial Equality Commissions. Launching the report, a Civitas spokesman said: “The EHRC contributes very little to meaningful equality in Britain today and should be abolished.

“Ultimately, abolishing the EHRC itself would not just be a cost-saving exercise. It may well present an opportunity to channel resources into addressing the most pertinent issues holding back equality and fairness.’’

Dr Davies says the Commission’s goal of equality is impractical and it wrongly seeks to divorce outcomes such as health limitations and lifestyles. Focusing on the EHRC’s How Fair Is Britain? review he said: “It makes little attempt to establish what, if anything is responsible for these differences. Instead, when the differences appear to disadvantage some groups, it is assumed to be the result of Britain’s unfairness.”

Dr Davies told the Daily Express that the EHRC never puts the positive side of life in Britain: “Its review is a series of snivels and complaints. When you come from Pakistan or Bangladesh you are moving from not very good places to a much better one. Why not say that loud and clear?”

An EHRC spokeswoman insisted the review was only intended as a “snapshot” of Britain and had not set out to be an exhaustive comparison with other countries. Chief executive Mark Hammond said: “It’s our job to start a debate where we could see better outcomes for people suffering unfair disadvantages.”

In June the National Audit Office refused to sign off the body’s 2009-10 accounts in full after controversies that included spending millions without authorisation.
Source: Daily Express




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