Equality Impact Assessments
WC asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Community Protection:
The Equality Impact Assessment completed prior to the cut made in respect of the changes to concessionary mobility passes says the changes will have a detrimental impact on 500 disabled people. It is likely that this figure is wrong and the cut is affecting hundredsof people. Does the Council think that their Equality Impact Assessments are fit for purpose?
Councillor Neal replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor, and can I thank the member of the public for their question.
We believe and recognise that the diversity of Nottingham’s communities is a huge asset, which should be valued and seen as one of the City’s great strengths. The people who live, work, study in or visit Nottingham come from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. They are of all ages, races and ethnic groups, disabled and non-disabled, and they are from faith and non-faith backgrounds.
As one of the largest employers in Nottingham and one of the main providers of local services, the City Council is committed to providing equality of opportunity and tackling discrimination, harassment, intimidation and disadvantage. We are also committed to achieving the highest standards in service delivery, decision-making and employment practice.
Before making important decisions, we are committed to considering the potential impact on citizens, communities and colleagues, and wherever possible, including early consultation with colleagues and community representatives. The legislation around equalities requires public authorities to carry out Equality Impact Assessments on significant changes to policies and practices. As a Council, we have designed a process to ensure that a policy, project or scheme does not discriminate against any disadvantaged or vulnerable people. As a Council, we carry out over 150 formal Equality Impact Assessments per year. Alongside this process, we use data and intelligence from key internal and external consultative groups, such as the BME Forum and the Disability Involvement Group to inform our decision making and carry out regular training sessions with officers to improve the standard of our work. Equality Impact Assessments are routinely scrutinised by the Equalities Team at the Council who make recommendations as to content and will signpost to relevant community resources for further information. It is fair to say that our processes are constantly being updated as experiences inform our practice. By scrutinising the impact of our decisions, we’re better able to identify gaps in our services and support officers to carry out robust and meaningful assessments.
The information contained in the Equality Impact Assessment for Mobility Bus Passes highlighted that the concession entitlement applied to around 1000 pass holders, but it was estimated that around half of these would be unaffected as they used their passes after 9:30am or could move their journey times to after 9:30am. The information was calculated following assessment of the actual electronically held data records from the concessionary travel ticketing system, and we are confident that the statements contained in the Equality Impact Assessment are an accurate representation of the number of users impacted by the change. In this context the Equality Impact Assessment is considered fit for purpose.
This is a change that we did not want to make, but without funding from government we are unable to continue to subsidise the scheme in our current financial climate. Mobility card holders and their companions will still be able to travel for free in Nottingham and nationally off-peak Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends.
Notwithstanding that, I will continue to work with officers across the Council to ensure that Equality Impact Assessments are both effective and achieve meaningful outcomes.
Customer service and customer care
AD asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning:
The Council frequently surveys citizens about a variety of issues and policies using an on-line mechanism which is easy for citizens to access with one click. However, for Have Your Say: Comments, Compliments & Complaints, the citizen is required to create an account and receives a security warning when they attempt to access the site. The same is true for e.petitions. Only 9 people managed to get past these barriers between November and January to sign the Reverse Mobility Card Cuts petition on the Council website despite an assurance being given to me at the end of November that the urgency of the situation had been raised with your IT Department.
How will the Council address this to ensure that complaints and signatures to e.petitions can be received on your website as easily as you receive feedback from the surveys you take of citizens’ views on particular subjects?
Councillor Woodings replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor. I’d like to thank this citizen for raising this matter.
Nottingham City Council prides itself on being one of the most open and transparent councils in the country with the information we provide to citizens via our website. We have many different ways that people can make contact with us, including our well-used Engage Nottingham Hub – a page that is easily found on our main Council site.
The Have Your Say process allows all citizens to contact us and tell us what they think of the services we offer. We encourage citizens to create an account so we can respond to their request and keep them informed of progress, however citizens can also use the system anonymously if they prefer. It states on the Council website: “you can make a comment or complaint anonymously, but by not providing contact details, the service will be unable to provide you with a response”. I can assure this citizen that I have personally checked that the anonymous link is working on each and every one of the current consultations that are open for comment and we have not been made aware of any other problems reported with the consultations page.
In relation to e-petitions, Nottingham City Council welcomes petitions and recognises that they are one way in which people can let us know their concerns. To facilitate this we have an e-petitions system on the website which enables citizens to create and sign petitions electronically. However, it is correct that in order to create or sign a petition you are required to complete a short registration process, providing an email address and password. This is a standard feature of all e-petition sites. It is a requirement of the software we use to manage e-petitions and it prevents users signing individual petitions multiple times. Our Constitutional Services department were contacted recently about difficulties a citizen was having in accessing the e-petition system on the Council’s website. At the time, the issue appeared to have resulted from the security settings for that part of the site. Our colleagues in IT were alerted to this and resolved this issue. The system was tested afterwards to make sure everyone could both set up and sign petitions. Some time after this Constitutional Services were made aware that new users were having difficulty creating user accounts and could therefore neither create nor sign petitions. This was immediately raised with our software provider who has now fixed this problem. Unfortunately it took a long time to fix this and so the e-petition referred to in the question has now been re-opened.
We would like to apologise to the citizen who experienced difficulties with creating an e-petition and any other citizens who struggled to sign a live petition during this period. I would like to reassure all councillors and citizens that the issues have now been resolved.
Despite these glitches in the system I can assure Full Council that this hasn’t stopped representations on many different issues being made to the Council. All councillors’ email addresses and phone numbers are published on the website and we receive and deal with many thousands of issues on behalf of, and representations from Nottingham citizens every year.