To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures will be used to ensure that local authorities meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 to promote equality for disabled people and eliminate unlawful discrimination, with particular reference to the diversity of needs of people with disabilities; and if he will make a statement.
The general duty to promote disability set out in the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 will place positive, proactive responsibilities on public authorities to work towards a more equal society by mainstreaming disability equality into the way in which they carry out their functions. This includes local authorities and Government Departments (including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister). The general duty will come into force in December 2006.
The 2005 Act also enables Ministers to impose specific duties on public bodies such as local authorities. The purpose of imposing specific duties is to assist these public bodies to comply with the general duty to promote equality. Such duties might include the publishing of Disability Equality Scheme, or the monitoring of various indicators, particularly in relation to employment of disabled people.
It will be the responsibility of each public authority to ensure that it is acting in compliance with its statutory duties. If the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is satisfied that a public authority is not complying with its specific duties, it will be able to serve a compliance notice. This would require the authority to comply with its duties and inform the DRC of the measures it has taken. If necessary the DRC could ask the county court or sheriff court to order the authority to comply.