Headlines: April 3rd, 2009

Organisations providing public services are being warned against using the recession as a reason for reducing commitment to equality of opportunity. A report from the New Local Government Network calls on them to see equalities policy as a strategic necessity in developing high-quality public services.

The report is recommending local councils and other public sector bodies to use their place at the heart of their communities to promote good practice and to reach out to under-represented groups. Councils, it says, should use local partners in business, higher and further education, community groups and the voluntary sector to create a more diverse workforce by using secondments, work-experience and job shadowing. The report also suggests the new National Apprenticeships Service will be an opportunity to target groups.

The study is based on interviews with almost a hundred chief executives, council leaders, senior officers and others. It says central Government also has a key role to play in developing equalities policies within the public sector. It suggests Whitehall departments should use only recruitment consultants who can demonstrate a proactive approach to promoting vacancies across the widest range of people.

Looking at appointments that may have important regional impact, such as those in Regional Development Agencies, the report is recommending the gradual delegation of the recruitment process away from central government and making it more local.

Anna Turley. The author of the report, said: “The public sector must harness the potential of all our society, through its workforce, its political representation, and its public appointments, if it is to create the kind of leadership our society demands.”