NUS condemns Cameron’s attack on equalities

The National Union of Students (NUS) has criticised a speech by Prime Minister David Cameron to the CBI in which we said the government would end Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs), which he described as “bureaucratic nonsense”.

All officers representing the NUS campaigns for Black, LGBT, disabled and women students expressed their profound opposition to the proposal, which they said would dramatically undermine efforts aimed at ensuring equal rights for all.

“These proposals are reflective of a Government attitude which is at best incompetent in understanding the impact so many of their decisions have on women’s lives, and at worst intentionally attempting to disguise the harm which bad government and business decisions have on women,” Kelley Temple, NUS Women’s Officer said. “Critical analysis through equality impact assessments are a key tool in preventing harmful policy consequences, which can mean the difference between women entering into education or not.”

Temple added that “Charging ahead with eyes closed is a foolish way of conducting business and only serves to harm women who have the least means to protect themselves from bad decision making.”

Hannah Paterson, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer said: “Equality impact assessments are critical to ensuring that the impacts of new policies on some of the most vulnerable members of society are properly investigated.

“It is clear that many Government policies are hitting disabled people particularly hard, and many equality impact assessments have highlighted these impacts. The EIA provides disabled people with a means to ensure that the Government assess and research the impact of policies decisions at the time, rather than forcing disabled people to challenge the decision once it has already been implemented.”

Finn McGoldrick, NUS LGBT Officer (Women’s Place) and Sky Yarlett, NUS LGBT Officer (Open Place) described the Government’s view of Equality Impact Assessments as “unnecessary bureaucracy” adding that it “shows just how little they value equality and diversity.”

The Equality Impact Assessments “have proven essential in tackling discrimination against LGBT people, to move responsibility for tackling discrimination away from the Government and onto LGBT people is disgraceful,” McGoldrick and Yarlett said. “LGBT representation in public life is already woefully inadequate, and this is a further unnecessary blow from a lazy Government initiative to cut costs at the expensive of those who need protection most.”

Aaron Kiely, NUS Black students’ officer warned that “Any move to scrap Equality Impact Assessments will have a hugely damaging effect on Black communities as EIAs have often highlighted disproportionate impacts on Black people of many policies. If we are to build a society in which everyone is valued and in which inequality is ended – this is a step in the completely wrong direction.”