01 November 2018
On Tuesday 6 November the Assembly will debate the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) Wales Committee Annual Review 2017-18.
The EHRC also published Is Wales Fairer? on 25 October 2018, which assesses the state of equality and human rights in Wales in 2018.
Is Wales fairer?
The EHRC considers that some progress has been made in making Wales fairer, such as:
- A rising employment rate;
- Fewer young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET);
- An increase in the proportion of women employed in high-paid occupations;
- More people in Wales engaging in democracy;
- An increase in women voting;
- A decrease in mental health conditions for disabled children;
- A reduction in police stations being used as a ‘place of safety’ for people with mental health conditions; and
- An improvement in early years attainment, with boys and children on free school meals achieving faster improvements.
However, its report suggests that there is much work yet to be done.
The report highlights that, proportionally, more people in Wales are reliant on welfare benefits than in England and Scotland, meaning that reductions in both in-work and out-of-work benefits are having a greater impact in Wales.
The report suggests that welfare reforms are pulling more people into poverty, particularly women, disabled people and ethnic minorities,.
The report highlights that socio-economic disadvantage has a negative impact on education and health outcomes. Children eligible for free school meals have higher exclusion rates than others, while adults and children living in the poorest areas are having poorer health outcomes.
Adults living in the most deprived areas of Wales have lower life expectancies that those living in the least deprived areas.
The report notes that one in five pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) will achieve five GCSEs at grade A*-C (including English or Welsh first language and mathematics), compared with two-thirds of pupils without ALN.
Early disadvantage flows through into later life, with disabled people being under-represented in apprenticeships, and disabled people’s employment rates in Wales being less than half of those for non-disabled people.
Research previously undertaken by the EHRC, showed that there is a shortage of accessible and adaptable homes in Wales, as well as long delays in making existing homes accessible.
The report suggests that there has been an increase in domestic abuse, sexual violence and rape offences reported and recorded in Wales.
The EHRC considers that traditional gender roles, norms and stereotypes are continuing to affect educational attainment. Girls are much less likely to continue studying science and mathematics after school, and women are still more likely to be in low-pay occupations than men.
The report notes that the difficulty of balancing caring responsibilities while moving up the career ladder is one of the drivers of the inequality faced by women. Seven out of ten new mothers have had a negative or potentially discriminatory experience at work as a result of pregnancy or maternity.
The EHRC found that 75% of hate crimes reported and recorded in Wales in 2016/17 were motivated by race or religion.
The report also emphasised the link between race inequalities and educational attainment, with black pupils having lower attainment than white pupils during early years education. This attainment gap narrows at GCSE level, with 57.9% of black pupils achieving 5 A*-C grades (including mathematics, English or Welsh) compared to 58.9% of white British pupils. However, for other ethnic minority groups, the attainment gap is not narrowing, as only one in five (21.5%) of gypsy/gypsy Roma pupils will achieve the same.
There are also attainment gaps at higher education level, with white British students in Wales having an attainment lead of 8.5 percentage points over ethnic minority students.
What did the EHRC recommend?
The EHRC’s report makes a number of recommendations to make Wales fairer. It recommend that the Welsh Government should:
- enact the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010, so that public bodies have due regard to socio-economic disadvantage as part of their strategic decision-making;
- incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities fully into Welsh legislation; and
- Fully implement the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act (Wales) 2015, and the National Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategy should be delivered, by November 2021.
Read our previous articles about equality and human rights issues here.
Article by Megan Jones, National Assembly for Wales Research Service