19 November 2012
The public’s right to question and challenge the Tory-led government’s unfair and damaging spending cuts has been attacked today by the prime minister.
David Cameron has announced he wants to cut the number and length of public consultations, increase restrictions on legal challenges and reviews, and cut the need to assess the impact of policies to prevent discrimination.
Among proposals to restrict judicial reviews is charging people more for them, reducing access to the courts for ordinary people.
Cameron also announced he wants to end the legal requirement for public authorities to carry out ‘equality impact assessments’ of existing policies or new proposals.
EIAs – established following recommendations in the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence – help to assess whether new policies would be discriminatory and have been used recently to prevent library closures.
But they also help public bodies develop existing procedures for the better, to improve equality of opportunity. Examples cited by the Equality and Human Rights Commission include improving the representation of women in the take-up of business start-up advice as part of a review of regeneration in Rotherham.
The union says the main problem with consultations is not that they are too long or there are too many of them, but that responses are too often overlooked or ignored – as has been the case over the government’s hugely unpopular and risky cuts to coastguard stations.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“Against the backdrop of the threat of a triple dip recession, this is a clear attempt to restrict ordinary people’s rights to question and challenge this Tory-led government’s unfair and damaging cuts that so obviously are not working.
“Taken together these further restrictions on the public’s involvement in policy-making expose the lie that this government of millionaires is in any way interested in being open and transparent.”