The Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty
The Equality Act 2010 (‘the Act’) consolidated previous legislation designed to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of protected characteristics. The Act identifies nine protected characteristics. These are:
- age: this refers to a person belonging to a particular age or range of ages
- disability: a person has a disability if she or he has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities
- gender reassignment: people who are proposing to undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning their sex marriage and civil partnership: marriage can be between a man and a woman or between two people of the same sex. Same-sex couples can also have a civil partnership. Civil partners must not be treated less favourably than married couples (except where permitted by the Equality Act)
- pregnancy and maternity: pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth
- race: refers to a group of people defined by their colour, nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins
- religion or belief: religion refers to any religion, including a lack of religion. Belief refers to any religious or philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (such as Atheism)
- sex: this refers to a man or to a woman, or to a group of people of the same sex sexual orientation: whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes
The HS2 SMR uses the term ‘protected characteristic groups’ to refer to groups of people who share a particular protected characteristic. The Equality Act 2010 does not specify socio-economic status as a protected characteristic.
Equality effects to be considered
The HS2 EQIA should consider potential equality effects arising during both the construction and operational phases of the Proposed Scheme. On the basis of the findings of the EQIA for Phase One and Phase 2a of HS2, and of the Equality Analysis and EQIA screening assessments for the Phase Two AoS, it is anticipated that potential equality effects will include the following:
- housing: there may be people with protected characteristics at risk of housing related disadvantage arising from demolition, compulsory purchase or severance during construction and/or operation; and housing related effects for community cohesion and other secondary equality
effects for protected characteristic groups.
- community infrastructure and open spaces: effects on protected characteristic groups’ access to community facilities and services that facilitate their equal participation or that meet their specific needs (includes community facilities, places of worship, key services, local high streets, schools, public open spaces, play spaces, recreational facilities) arising from road closures, diversions, project induced traffic congestion, presence of construction activities and workforce.
- employment and business: effects due to demolition and disruption from construction activity for businesses or charitable organisations providing a service or product aimed specifically at one or more protected characteristic groups; and training and employment opportunities for protected characteristic groups, including construction and operational employment, indirectly created employment, and induced investment.
- traffic, transport and physical accessibility: road safety effects for relevant protected characteristic groups (including safe routes to schools) due to construction traffic, severance, changes to local road and pedestrian networks and new transport infrastructure; disruption to public transport relied upon by protected characteristic groups for equal participation in daily living; severance and/or diversion of PRoW, and other pedestrian routes relied on by protected characteristic groups for equal participation in daily living; increased journey times/delay effects for relevant protected groups due to construction traffic, and changes to the local road network; and indirect community cohesion effects of severance, public transport disruption, and road safety impacts.
- noise, air quality and other environmental effects: residual noise and air quality effects from construction activities, construction traffic, train movements and induced road traffic changes on differentially affected protected characteristic groups or on disproportionately affected protected characteristic groups; and residual noise and air quality effects on schools, colleges, residential care homes, places of worship or other community facilities of particular importance for protected characteristic groups.
- crime, safety and personal security: changes in actual safety or feelings of safety at, for example, bus stops suspended or relocated by construction-related disruption, for differentially affected protected characteristic groups; and personal security effects for differentially affected protected characteristic groups.
- health related equality effects: arising from impacts of exposure to noise and air emissions during construction and operation; any changes in the local visual environment; and impacts on wellbeing associated with a loss of social capital as a result of displacement of occupants from residential properties, impacts on community facilities and spaces, and reduced connectivity or isolation.
Other potential equality effects may be exist and can be raised to HS2’s attention.