Equality watchdog to be ‘substantially reformed’

The controversial Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has escaped being axed by a Government review of quangos, but it will be ‘substantially reformed’.

The EHRC has had far-reaching powers to enforce equality duties and support legal actions to “push the boundaries of the law”.

It is currently backing a legal action against the Christian owners of a Cornish B&B who have a ‘married couples only’ policy for double beds.


Now the EHRC is set to face substantial reforms, and it will have to prove it is properly using taxpayers’ money.

The Home Secretary has previously accused the Commission of wasting taxpayers’ money, and one newspaper commentator has accused it of promoting ‘loony left’ policies.

Earlier this week a Guardian newspaper commentator questioned the Commission’s obsession with equality of outcomes, rather than equality of opportunity.


The Commission has previously said that making girls wear skirts as part of a school uniform policy is “potentially unlawful”, claiming it may discriminate against girls who believe they are boys.

The equality watchdog has also claimed that discrimination laws should treat veganism as a belief, and that vegans should be afforded the same protection as religious groups.

It has also called for people to be questioned about their sexual orientation each time they visit hospital A&E departments, report crimes to the police, or respond to a major survey.


The Commission wanted to store the results on a giant database, which would have allowed for checks on possible ‘inequality’.

The EHRC has also been criticised for funding atheist group, the British Humanist Association, to run a series of events where known opponents of Christian liberties were invited to train the public in issues of religious freedom.

Earlier this year Theresa May, the Home Secretary, warned that the EHRC had a “track record” of wasting money, and said that further problems would not be “tolerated”.


Her comments came just days after the EHRC failed to have its accounts approved by the National Audit Office.

Writing earlier this week Julian Glover, a commentator at the Guardian newspaper, said: “I think the EHRC has a wrongheaded idea of fairness. It measures the extent to which people’s lives are different, and then calculates the action needed to make them more the same. The assumption is that equality is what we all want.”

He added: “An equally valid idea of a fair society may be one in which people are given the space and the right to strive for inequality: advantage achieved by their own efforts.”


The Cabinet Office has revealed that in total 192 quangos, quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations, have either been abolished or are going to be brought under ministerial or local authority control.

A further 118 bodies will be merged, and 171 are set to be “substantially” reformed.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said that the cuts were designed to increase accountability.

Related Resources