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Thursday, May 07, 2009

A closer look at the Equality Bill

Wishful thinking. Alice in Wonderland. Away with the fairies. These are few of the phrases that come to mind having had a look at the guts of the new Equality Bill that apply to older people. I am astonished that something that must have taken so long to produce is so simplistic, ill defined and naive.

Fortunately it is unlikely to ever see the light of day after the change in Government (May 2010) but even so it is such a wasted opportunity to provide decent guidance and structure about genuine areas of discrimination.

Let me give you a couple of quotes – honestly these are taken from the document:
Ensuring private members’ clubs do not discriminate against older people. For example, a man in his 60s who is going to a nightclub as a guest with a younger friend cannot be refused entry simply because he is considered too old. Cripes, just think of it. Sorry folks, no more turning granddad away from dens of debauchery

Putting a new Equality Duty on public bodies. The Duty will mean public bodies need to think about the needs of everyone who uses their services or works for them, regardless of their age. For example, a local council puts extra benches in local parks so older people can enjoy the park too. The fact that many of the UK’s public parks are no-go areas and require a police escort won’t be much helped by sticking a few more park benches down.
Some might accuse me of being a tad cynical but I am truly amazed at this new proposed law but I reckon it is all form over substance.

Most of the restrictions it seeks to impose are aimed at the public rather than the private sector. The estimated first year cost of this is put at a quarter of £ billion. Believe me this ain’t going to happen. Dick Stroud

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