Interim Strategic Equality Objectives for 2021 to 2022

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Introduction

Our commitment to equality and diversity at Denbighshire County Council is not limited to the priorities in our Corporate Plan; we will strive to offer every opportunity to progress equality and diversity throughout the Council to help us build a fairer society for all our communities. Our corporate plan was built upon engagement and consultation with communities in our county, and the resulting priorities for 2017 to 2022 agreed upon.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recommendations, within Is Wales Fairer? 2018 was a comprehensive review of how Wales was performing on equality and human rights. This informed our strategic equality objectives and our Corporate Plan and looked across all areas of life including the following domains:

  1. Education
  2. Employment
  3. Living Standards
  4. Health
  5. Justice and personal security
  6. Participation

This provided a complete picture of people’s life chances in Wales and was the Welsh supplement to the report on equality and human rights progress in England, Scotland and Wales, Is Britain Fairer? (2015). Our action plan below identifies which of the EHRC domains above our interim equality objectives support.

The information below contains our interim strategic equality objectives from 2021 to 2022, and should be accepted as our Action Plan, aligned to Equality Act 2010 legislative requirements. Our Corporate Plan 2017 to 2022 delivers our priorities and equality objectives prior to this interim document and we are currently working upon our ‘County Conversation’ campaign to inform the development of our next Corporate Plan 2022 to 2027.

Details of our ambitions (i.e. our quantitative targets for achievement within the lifespan of the plan) are agreed and reported on via the processes and tools that form part of our wider Performance Management Framework. Our plans are developed in line with electoral periods, so it is to be assumed that our ambitions reflect what we think can be reasonably achieved within this time period. We produce quarterly performance reports (QPRs), and those for quarters 2 and 4 are tabled at Cabinet and Performance Scrutiny. They are therefore available for public viewing on our website under the agendas for those meetings. We also produce an Annual Performance Review (APR), though in recent years we have taken the decision to integrate our QPR 4 performance and the APR. This report offers analysis of delivery confidence against stated ambitions, a rationale for any adjustments to ambition, and outlines what we expect to achieve in the forthcoming year.

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Interim Equality Objectives

Housing

The overall priority aligns with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recommendations for Living Standards.

This priority applies the five ways of working and directly supports Wales’ Well-being Goals around prosperity, environmental resilience, health, equality, cohesive communities, and a globally responsible Wales with a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.

Our key equality objectives to the end of 2022 are noted below for this priority. We will commit to:

  • Delivering extra care housing schemes in Ruthin and Denbigh, providing 87 new homes to enable people to live independently for longer by 2022.
  • Delivering 170 additional council homes by 2022, providing housing for those living at socio-economic disadvantage.
  • Continuing to support and resettle Syrian refugee families by 2025. Denbighshire successfully resettled 20 Syrian families from April 2016, under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme, with the most recent family being resettled in January 2021. The Home Office has now brought this scheme to an end and has replaced it with a new and wider UK Resettlement Scheme, under which we will be able to offer further accommodation to Syrian families, agreed by Cabinet in 2019.
  • We will be providing accommodation to an as yet unidentified number of Afghan families, aligned to the Afghan Relocation Assistance Programme. The first family will be welcomed by end of 2021. Families under this scheme are currently being accommodated by the Home Office until after their quarantine period when they are being moved to Local Authority accommodation.
  • Rapidly rehouse those at risk of homelessness – in June 2020 the Welsh Government released its planning guidance for homelessness and housing related support services, launching the Rapid Rehousing Recovery Model. Denbighshire applied to the Welsh Government for capital money to purchase a property to provide good quality family emergency accommodation. We have recently completed on the purchase of a property, which will provide eight units of family accommodation, as well as being able to purchase four units of permanent family accommodation. We are now in phase 3 of the planning stage, which is implementing the Rapid Rehousing Model with the development of a Multi-Disciplinary Team to provide the relevant support to households at risk of, or experiencing homelessness. No completion date at this time.
  • Producing a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment by February 2022 to better understand the needs of this community for Denbighshire. During 2021 to 2022, we will also be looking to recruit a designated Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Liaison Officer to the council to help manage our relationship with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community.

Regarding housing, we have activities to enable young people to access housing; we prioritise the building of extra care facilities to enable older people to live independently for as long as possible, and we pledged to deliver additional supported housing units to enable greater independence for those with additional support needs.

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Connected Communities

The overall priority aligns with the EHRC recommendations for Participation.

This priority applies the five ways of working and directly supports Wales’ Well-being Goals around prosperity, environmental resilience, health, equality, cohesiveness, global responsibility, and a vibrant culture with a thriving Welsh language.

Our key equality objectives to the end of 2022 are noted below for this priority. We will commit to:

  • Continuing to improve opportunities to reduce Digital Exclusion. We will continue to train staff and volunteers from April 2021 onwards and will promote the Denbighshire Digital Buddies scheme. We will plan an intergenerational event to take place towards the end of 2021, and work to support those experiencing socio economic disadvantage will commence, with a focus on digital skills and employment.
  • Ensuring Council information and services are available and accessible online by 2022 to support people living in socio-economic advantage and people with protected characteristics.
  • A revised business case is being compiled to deliver a sustainable transport plan.

Under Connected Communities we plan to enhance accessibility of our digital platforms; make more of our services available online, therefore addressing a participation barrier for those with mobility or hearing issues; and also address digital exclusion as we recognise that access to effective infrastructure and good use of technology can deliver greater learning opportunities, help with financial management, etc.

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Resilient Communities

The overall priority aligns with the EHRC recommendations for Living standards / Justice and personal security / Health / Education (Safety).

This priority applies the five ways of working and directly supports Wales’ Well-being Goals around prosperity, health, equality, cohesiveness, global responsibility, anda vibrant culture with a thriving Welsh language.

Our key equality objectives to the end of 2022 are noted below for this priority. We will commit to:

  • Continuing our county-wide approach to raising awareness of domestic abuse, and identifying sources of support. Some of the elements of the project work will include early intervention for children, including Spectrum training in schools from September 2021; signing-off and implementing from June the Make a Stand housing policy for domestic abuse; continuing work on the council’s safeguarding process to determine the changes required to incorporate domestic abuse concerns and incidents; and finalising our domestic abuse policy for the council by September 2021.
  • Progressing further our work towards becoming a Dementia Friendly Council and raising awareness of Dementia throughout the Council, supporting personnel who live with Dementia, or who support people living with Dementia.
  • Through Libraries, complete our new initiative to provide a collection of Memory Bags containing items designed to stimulate the senses and promote reminiscence and discussion for community members living with Dementia.
  • We will promote the Young Carers Identity Card and work with focus groups of young carers to develop publicity materials and ideas. We will also be tendering for our Carers Assessor Contract, due for renewal at the end of March 2022.
  • Improving our consultation and engagement through strengthening our Engagement Portal and County Conversations platform including local and national groups representing people from all protected groups. This will enhance the information we have from and about people with protected characteristics.
  • Establishing better links with those living with protected characteristics and the organisations that support and advocate for them in order to co-produce solutions to challenges in future.
  • Continuing to support key equality and diversity campaigns throughout each year, including:
    • White Ribbon Day
    • Time to Change Wales
    • Dementia Action Week
    • Care Recruitment
    • Volunteers Week
    • Tourism Ambassadors
    • LGBTQ+ History Month
    • Young Carers Action Day
    • Zero Tolerance Racist Campaign
    • Period Poverty
  • Continuing to support our Zero Racism Pledge and will regularly update our Policy Statement committing to promoting a zero tolerance to racism throughout the Council.
  • Continuing to deliver and strengthen the Welsh Government’s Community Cohesion Programme, including hate crime awareness.

Under Resilient Communities we’ve pledged to involve people with shaping services, and work to create seamless health and social care services, as well as priority activity of tackling domestic abuse.

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Environment (including economic prosperity)

The overall priority aligns with the EHRC recommendations for Living Standards and Employment.

This priority applies the five ways of working and directly supports Wales’ Well-being Goals around environmental resilience, prosperity, health, equality, cohesiveness, global responsibility, anda vibrant culture with a thriving Welsh language.

Our key equality objectives to the end of 2022 are noted below for this priority. We will commit to:

  • Undertaking a tree planting initiative for the County in important areas of socio-economic disadvantage that have been deprived of tree canopy and biodiversity. We will finish our programme to plant 18,000 trees by the end of 2022.
  • Providing energy efficient council homes to support people to live with better health and to improve situations for those at socio-economic advantage (and well-being for environment). We will continue our programme of energy efficiency improvements to our council stock during 2021 to 2022.

The Environment priority itself demonstrates the extent to which we responded to the requests of young people that we take action now to improve the future for them and their children. Although not explicitly referenced in our Corporate Plan, opportunities to enable greater access to the countryside for people of all abilities are made.

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Young People

The overall priority aligns with the EHRC recommendations for Education / Employment.

This priority applies the five ways of working and directly supports Wales’ Well-being Goals around prosperity, health, equality, cohesiveness, global responsibility, and a vibrant culture with a thriving Welsh language.

Our key equality objectives to the end of 2022 are noted below for this priority. We will commit to:

  • Progressing with a school nutrition project which will benefit young people to learn more life skills including socio-economic disadvantage. 
  • Continuing our support for parents in the county, reviewing our Parenting Strategy and implementing the Solihull Parenting Programme online (in partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board) until November 2022. 
  • Revising our criteria for the Young Person’s Employment Bursary to widen opportunities for young people, and small businesses, to allow more people to access much needed support in the Covid-19 recovery period, enabling them to live an independent life.

Our Young People priority is focussed on raising educational attainment, improving our school buildings (including accessibility) and also providing greater work, learning, and development opportunities for our young people. We are also assessing the well-being of pupils to identify where additional support is required.

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Preparing for a new Corporate Plan and a new Council

New Corporate Plan

We are currently working to develop equality and corporate plan objectives and priorities for 2022 onwards. Our engagement through our ‘County Conversation’ forum has commenced with the general public, County Councillors and personnel; themes arising will be integrated into the next Corporate Plan (which incorporates our equality, diversity and human rights activities taking place throughout the council, with equality and diversity embedded throughout all our services).

Whilst this work progresses, our commitment to our current corporate priorities and thus equality objectives remain live for the next year, with clear lines of sight on achievement, and success. Our work continues, and is monitored by the Corporate Plan Programme Board every quarter, with all projects monitored by our Senior Leadership Team through a corporate project register, again quarterly.

We will undertake the local assessment of well-being (for Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to inform the development of the local well-being plan and our corporate plan. We will consider, in relation to each topic and well-being goal, any known barriers experienced by people with protected characteristics, people experiencing socio-economic disadvantage or marginalised groups. Consider whether there are gaps in our collective knowledge in relation to the experiences (and longer term resilience) of people with protected characteristics, people in poverty or areas with high levels of deprivation.

We will also await research findings for the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment to work further upon our corporate plan objectives and our equality objectives. Work for this will be complete by February 2022.

Additional external sources for the new Corporate Plan will include, for example, details of Covid-19 recovery mindful of the ‘Locked Out’ Report – an independent report commissioned by Welsh Government to a look at disabled people’s experiences of the pandemic with a particular focus on public services.

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New Council

We are preparing for a new council as well as a new corporate plan. Work is underway with the Democratic Services section of the Council to run a campaign to promote diversity among prospective members for the new Council. 

The council has 47 councillors, representing 30 wards, and serving approximately 95,500 people. The last election was held in May 2017, and the next one is expected to take place in 2022.

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National Initiatives

We will be reviewing the Council’s current arrangements for responding to national and external initiatives in support of equality and diversity. We will be taking a paper to Cabinet in the near future to seek their views and ideas, to reflect the increase in consultations for local authorities.

Welsh Government in particular, as a consequence of their Wales Programme for Government (2021 to 2026), will be setting up new initiatives and we need to focus more on our capacity to respond to arising consultations. Actions which come from all of the work will offer us opportunity to enhance Denbighshire to become a more prosperous, equal and greener county and country.

In recent months, for example, consultations have included the All Wales Race Equality Action Plan and the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RES) Statutory Guidance and Code and Consultation on Future Funding for Equality and Inclusion Grant Programme.

Actions arising from these pieces of work may inform our corporate priorities in the future and will equip us to further address the equality and diversity agenda.

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