One of Labour’s most prominent peers, Margaret Prosser, is at the centre of a political storm after being warned that she is presiding over the “death knell for equalities and human rights” by accepting massive coalition cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. A letter signed by 124 staff at the EHRC – one-third […]
One of Labour’s most prominent peers, Margaret Prosser, is at the centre of a political storm after being warned that she is presiding over the “death knell for equalities and human rights” by accepting massive coalition cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
A letter signed by 124 staff at the EHRC – one-third of the remaining employees and obtained by Tribune – reflects growing anger among employees as the organisation moves to privatise its helpline and ends grant aid for discrimination cases.
The letter was sent to the former TUC president and Labour Party treasurer who is now chair of the EHRC resources committee which is overseeing the run down of the organisation. Leaked minutes reveal that the EHRC proposes to spend more on employing 17 consultants than on legal casework defending people facing racial, sexual or gender discrimination.
Some £2.2 million has been allocated to employ 19 executives – the highest receiving £254,000 – in full time jobs at the commission while the total number of staff is slashed to 150. The legal case work budget has been pared to
£1.1 million, with only £650,000 left to spend this year.
The letter says: “Disproportionate expenditure on the management team and the loss of lawyers, case workers and advisers will mean that the victims of discrimination and human rights cases will be badly served.”
It goes on to say to Baroness Prosser: “This is not a rescue but the death knell for equalities and human rights. We believe that even our critics would prefer an independent commission which uses public money wisely on providing services to the public rather than on higher salaries for senior managers and consultants.”
The letter appeals to her to withdraw the proposals and open proper negotiations with staff and unions – mainly the PCS – over the future of the ECHR.
John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, has written to David Gauke, the minister in charge of HM Revenue and Customs, asking for an investigation into 17 interim managers employed through personal service companies at EHRC for potential tax avoidance.
Mr Gauke announced a clampdown on tax avoidance in a speech to the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange and Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, promised to end tax avoidance by senior staff in Whitehall.
Mr McDonnell writes: “This appears at odds with Mr Alexander’s recommendations. I ask that you take measures to ensure the Commission complies with the new regime.”