Sync: e-bulletin Oct 2010
October – what a month!
"Corn and grain, corn and grain, All that falls shall rise again." Wiccan Harvest Chant
It's a time of change, and a time of turbulence - and as we know, one element of leadership is understanding the context in which we work and keeping up to date with the many changes that affect it.
Two major events took place in October – the launch of the new Equality Act and the announcement of the spending review.
This bulletin aims to bring you up to speed on both of these – giving you some headlines and sign posting you to information so you can find out more.
And however bleak things may sound, remember its autumn - we may have winter to get through, but spring will always come round eventually!
The Equality Act
The Equality Act - a modern, single legal framework with clear, streamlined law that will be more effective at tackling disadvantage and discrimination.
Instead of having one law covering disabled people, another covering people of different faiths, another linked to race and so on, the UK now has one single piece of legislation in place. Most of the Disability Discrimination Act is carried through into the new Act, but there are some big changes too. So who is covered by the Act?
The government looked at which people still faced discrimination in the UK and has chosen 9 different ‘characteristics’ to include within the Act. These are referred to as ‘protected characteristics' and are: Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage or civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion or belief, Sexual orientation, Sex (gender) and Age.
And best of all, the Act doesn’t just apply to members of those groups anymore, it also covers those who are discriminated against whilst with people who have those protected characteristics (meaning parents, carers and friends can also take action on discrimination) – this is called discrimination by association.
And there is now ‘discrimination by perception’ too – so if someone believes you to have a protected characteristic and discriminates against you because of it, you can also take action, whether or not you do have that characteristic. Its all about making the discriminating behaviour the focus – that’s what’s wrong – rather than limiting who can and can’t take action.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has some great bite sized resources available to download from its website to help you get to know the act in easy, digestible chunks.
The Spending Review
We are entering not just an age of austerity, but one of uncertainty (Gaby Hinsliff, Channel 4)
Information on the long awaited cuts finally became known on the 20th October bringing in the so called ‘Age of Austerity’. We can’t avoid it, the cuts are going to impact on every aspect of our lives, so the best thing we can do is to find out as much as we need to know and keep ourselves informed.
Oh, before we jump straight in and work out what’s happening - yes, they have had to look at how the cuts impact on different groups, including disabled people – and they have made some exemptions and exclusions to support us…
Spending review – arts and culture
These cuts will inevitably have a significant impact on the cultural life of the country. (Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England)
The headline news is that the budget for the Arts Council has been cut by 29.6 %, which is a huge cut but at least it won’t all happen at once. The cut in the first year (2011/2012) is around 14%.
The aim is to limit the impact on regularly funded organisations as much as possible this means ACE trying to cut its own internal costs by around 50% - hard, given they have already slimmed down on staff. The Creative Partnerships programme is going completely, there are rumours that up to 100 arts organisations may loose funding, and all regularly funding organisations have been told to prepare to loose 6.9% next year.
Overall, the DCMS will lose almost 25% of its funding over four years but the government has decided to keep free entrance to our national museums and galleries.
There are no cuts to the Olympic budget – and gets the full £9.3 billion allocated. On the positive side, the distribution of Lottery good cause money is changing after 2012, income for arts, sports and heritage is to go up by £150 million.
Spending review – local authorities
Similarly, local authorities will have to face cuts of 7% year-on-year, reducing cash by 28% by 2015.
This will hit the arts hard as many authorities have already said that they will have to cut all but what they see as the most essential services they provide.
Each local authority is making its own decisions about what to cut and what to keep so to find out more, you need to get on line and check local papers and websites
Spending review – benefits
The review outlines many cuts that will impact on benefits, and some that impact specifically on disabled people.
One of the most worrying changes that most people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) would be limited to a year of benefit payments and then moved on to Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA). An individual on ESA can receive between £91 and £97 and the move to JSA could reduce this by £20 - £40 per week and would also mean ESA claimants lose vital support, for example, once you've been on JSA for over a year your housing benefit is cut by 10 per cent. This 12 month limit will be mitigated for ‘the most severely disabled people’ and disabled people on low incomes but there are no details yet about who would qualify.
There is also a new ‘Benefit Cap’ of £500 per week which will be introduced from 2013 but Disability Living Allowance claimants will be exempted from the cap, and there will be a big freeze in benefits – with all amounts frozen for three years despite the fact that the cost of living will go up and VAT increases in January.
Tax Credits will be frozen over the next three years, and couples with children must work 24 hours between them for entitlement to Working Tax Credit from April 2012 – this may impact on disabled parents who can work part time, and have previously managed 16 hours but who might find the stretch to 24 hours hard to manage (as well as finding it hard to find the additional hours of work) so there is an exemption planned for disabled people here.
The biggest change to Housing Benefit is the decision to only pay single people aged up to 35 year-olds a the single room rate – this will hit single working people on low incomes as well as the single unemployed. Again, they have thought about the impact on disabled people though and those on middle or higher rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance are exempt from the measure.
We had hoped to bring you an article and a case study by Rachael Wallach, another one of the individuals on Sync Intensives this month. Rachael works for a local authority and has been caught up in the horror story of dealing with the impact of the spending review and the ensuing cuts - keep checking the site through the next few weeks and we'll post her articles as soon as they’re ready.
Next month, Deepa Shastri explores Deaf Leadership - and the impact of being deaf in an all hearing family and how this has shaped her leadership journey.
Thats all for now,
Project Manager, Sync