From Equality and Human Rights Commission <[email protected]>
Subject Year in review | Our asks for the new government | Legal action round-up
Date December 19, 2019 10:40 AM
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Christmas message, our asks for the new government and recent
legal cases

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December 2019

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A Christmas message from our Chair

divider ( [link removed] )

As we approach the festive season, our Chair David Isaac reflects
on 2019:

This time last year I said that the challenges of 2018 had
surpassed all our expectations. As we approach the end of 2019, I
think it’s safe to say that this year has not exactly gone to
plan either!

Brexit and political uncertainty have dominated both our national
debate and focus. So as we end the year with a new government,
it’s clear that we will leave the EU. As I look back on what we
have achieved in 2019, I’m confident of one thing - that the work
of the EHRC will be more important than ever in 2020.

Read David's full message ( [link removed] )

Houses of Parliament

Our asks for the new government

For the last twelve years, we have acted as a critical friend to
successive Governments. We support, champion and challenge where
required to protect and promote equality and human rights. We
will continue this vital role over the course of the next

We welcome and congratulate the Prime Minister and his new
Government. We're asking them to take ten steps to help create a
fairer and more equal Britain.

Ten steps for a fairer Britain ( [link removed] )

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'The Government has the opportunity to set a positive and
inclusive vision for the whole country over the course of the
next Parliament. We will offer our help and expertise so everyone
has the same opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential.'

David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Litigation policy ( [link removed] )

Our litigation and enforcement policy

We recently published our Litigation and Enforcement Policy,
which sets out how we will use our legal powers from 2019 to
2022. It explains what our legal powers are under the Equality
Act 2006, what we will use our legal powers for and how we will
decide when to use our legal powers.

Read the policy ( [link removed] )

We have unique powers under the Equality Act to uphold the law
on equality and human rights. One of the ways we exercise these
powers is by initiating or supporting legal action. Some
important recent rulings are below:

European Court of Human Rights ( [link removed] )

European Court of Human Rights ruling that domestic violence
victim had her human rights breached by 'bedroom tax' imposition

On 24 October the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a
woman (A) who was a victim of domestic violence had her human
rights breached due to limitations on the housing benefits people
receive if they are considered to have one or more 'spare'
bedrooms (often referred to as the 'bedroom tax').

A was at risk from her violent ex-partner, and the attic in her
home had been adapted into a 'safe room' so she and her son could
seek sanctuary if needed. When new housing benefit regulations
were introduced, this 'safe room' was deemed to be a spare room
and she was threatened with eviction by her local authority.

We intervened in this case with the aim of changing the law so
that it has less discriminatory effect on groups sharing a
particular protected characteristic.

Find out more ( [link removed] )

Mr and Mrs Mander ( [link removed] )

Local council adoption agency found to have discriminated against
British Sikh couple on the grounds of their race

On 6 December Oxford County Court awarded substantial damages to
a couple who were told by their local authority that they
couldn't apply to be adoptive parents because there were only
white children available, after finding that they were unlawfully
discriminated against.

Sandeep and Reena Mander, both British born and in their
thirties, are of Sikh Indian heritage, although they have no
close links to India and have no close family living there.
Throughout the process the couple made it clear that they would
be delighted to adopt a child of any ethnic background, with or
without siblings.

We supported the Manders in this legal action, as this case
provides clarification on how adoption agencies and local
authorities should operate adoption procedures that don't
discriminate on grounds of race.

Find out more ( [link removed] )

Supreme Court ( [link removed] )

Supreme Court clarifies the right of tribunals to uphold the
Human Rights Act

On 13 November the Supreme Court ruled in an important case which
clarified the right of tribunals to uphold the Human Rights

RR lives with his disabled partner in a two bedroomed social
housing property for which he claims housing benefit. The
couple require separate bedrooms because of her disabilities and
her need to accommodate medical equipment and supplies.

RR and his partner had their housing benefits limited under the
so-called bedroom tax, but a judge at a tribunal found that the
regulations were in breach of the couple’s rights under the Human
Rights Act and disapplied them.

The Supreme Court ruling clarifies that social security tribunals
have the power to disapply regulations which breach the Human
Rights Act. We intervened in this case as it has potentially
far-reaching implications that could apply to all areas of law
where individuals’ cases are heard by tribunals and where there
are potential human rights breaches.

Find out more ( [link removed] )

Justice ( [link removed] )

NHS apologies to a teenager with autism for inappropriate care
after two years in solitary confinement

Following a campaign led by her father and legal action supported
by us, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Walsall MBC, Walsall CCG and NHS
England have apologised and paid damages to a teenager who has
been detained under the Mental Health Act for more than
two years, mostly in solitary confinement.

Bethany, who has autism, was being kept in a secure unit in
Northampton, despite the fact she did not have a mental health

Bethany has pathological demand avoidance (PDA), which is
characterised by an overwhelming need to avoid or resist demands.

An inquiry by the joint committee on human rights recently warned
that the CQC and clinical commissioning groups are not protecting
patients with learning disabilities and autism.

We supported this case with the goal of ensuring Bethany is
treated with dignity and respect and her human rights are

Find out more ( [link removed] )

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Equality and Human Rights Commission

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