HCA publishes new equality and diversity strategy
Published date : 19 November 2012
Equality in housing should be “rooted in reality”; this was the message from Colin Molton, Executive Director for the South and South West, as he launched the Homes and Communities Agency’s equality and diversity strategy on 19 November.
Speaking at a joint HCA / National Housing Federation event at the offices of Clarke Willmott in Bristol, Mr Molton stated that for some the term ‘equality and diversity’ had become associated with political correctness and box ticking exercises which undermined the impact equality and diversity interventions can have, not just in improving people’s life chances, but in building cohesive communities and boosting the economy.
Mr Molton said:
“We should focus on the outcomes rather than the process, especially as there are very real equality challenges facing our neighbourhoods and communities today: an ageing population means a growing demand for accessible and adaptable housing for disabled and older people; and a society that is more ethnically diverse than ever before means that local authorities are increasingly looking to provide tailored accommodation, not least for Travellers who remain one of the most disadvantaged groups in the country.
“In a time when resources are stretched, the challenge for the HCA, local authorities and registered providers is to ensure that we continue to demonstrate why equality matters, while making sure that our equality efforts are proportionate and rooted in reality. The Government’s decision to reduce the bureaucracy associated with equality means that we have an opportunity to be innovative and focus our efforts on making a real impact. That’s how we will generate confidence and ensure that the importance of equality is understood and not side-lined.”
The HCA’s strategy has nine clear aims which were shaped in consultation with stakeholders. These include objectives to ensure that the HCA’s investment meets the needs of older people, traveller and black and ethnic minority communities, that it supports the involvement of community and specialist providers in its work and ensures that the Agency fosters a fair and inclusive working environment for its staff.
Gill Payne, Director of Campaigns and Neighbourhoods at the National Housing Federation said:
“Through its transparent and common sense approach to equality, the HCA is setting a good example to the rest of the housing sector. The equality landscape is shifting and it is vital that housing associations continue to be aware of and embed their important responsibilities under the Equality Act. I was therefore pleased to see so many of our members in Bristol today, sharing best practice and learning from each other’s stories.”
Anne Hayward, partner at national law firm Clarke Willmott, said:
“We were delighted to host the event where the HCA’s new equality and diversity strategy was launched. This strategy is extremely important for the future of our communities and is an essential requirement in the sector.”
Dorian Leatham, the HCA’s Equality and Diversity Board Advisory Group Chair, said:
“This strategy underlines our ongoing commitment to go beyond rhetoric and drive measurable equality outcomes, both through our regulation and investment activities and in relation to our role as an employer of around 850 staff. We recognise that we cannot achieve our vision for equality alone. We look forward to working with our partners and staff in the coming years as we implement our strategy and promote investment in housing that meets the needs of all.”
The HCA is not required by law to publish an equality strategy, nor to consult on its equality objectives. However, in the interests of transparency, the organisation has chosen to go beyond its legal duties to consult its stakeholders and make clear how it plans to deliver its nine equality objectives.