Buying goods and using services


This cross-cutting theme is now closed for comments.

You can read comments made since the start of the Red Tape Challenge in April 2011 below.

You can also still submit comments to the Red Tape Challenge inbox by clicking here.

The Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against, harass or victimise someone when providing services, goods or facilities or when carrying out a public function, such as policing.  For example, it is unlawful to refuse to serve a customer because he is gay.

The Act mainly brings together what was in previous law.

The Act extends protection to ban age discrimination when providing goods and services, which was not previously included in equality legislation.  This would mean, for example, that it would be unlawful for a shop to refuse to serve an older customer, but age-related discounts and concessions would still be allowed.  The Government has recently consulted on bringing this ban into force and making it work in practice. Click here to view a recent consultation on ending age discrimination in services, public functions and associations (opens in a new window)

These provisions set out how consumers are protected from unfair treatment

Part 3 (opens in a new window)

Schedule 2 (opens in a new window)

Schedule 3 (opens in a new window)

Tell us what you think should happen to these measures and why, being specific where possible

125 responses to Buying goods and using services

  • Gillian Morris said on June 21, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Should we scrap them altogether? Could their purpose be achieved in a non-regulatory way (eg through a voluntary code?) How?
    No – It is essential to have clear, consistent and hard hitting equality laws. As a country we will never be able to achieve greater engagement and inclusion without the framework to open work up to them.

    Could they be reformed, simplified or merged? How? No – this has already been achieved by the Equality Act 2010 which is a very recent simplification of past equalities legislation.

    Can we reduce their bureaucracy through better implementation? Can we make their enforcement less burdensome? No. Whether it is labelled, bureaucracy or implementation, enforcement is a vital part of any legislation. Public authorities must be transparent and accountable for their actions. Enforcement of the Act is crucial in establishing a fully engaged civic society.
    Should they be left as they are?
    Yes.

  • Mary said on June 21, 2011 at 8:59 am

    No change required

  • Nell said on June 21, 2011 at 8:08 am

    The legislation needs to be in place to challenge prejudice and reinforce the perception that everyone can plays a full role in society, it provokes imaginative solutions and will stimulate the market as well as encouraging eveyrone to take up opportunties.

  • Concerned said on June 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I believe there should be no discrimination but don’t believe that age related discounts should apply

  • George said on June 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    This is very important and should be kept.

  • Dan Mason said on June 20, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Why on earth should I be treated the same as everybody else? Why should a service not delivered by the state through taxpayers’ money be available to everyone on the same basis? Some people seem to think we can create a utopia just by trying to regulate people’s opinions and words.

    If a service provider is rude to me, or refuses to offer services for a ridiculous reason such as my age (and yes, this has happened to me) I made jolly sure that everyone I know is aware of what a terrible service they are offering. Those who don’t behave equitably are likely to be driven out of the market anyway.

  • Ann Memmott said on June 20, 2011 at 10:31 am

    The Equality Act is a very important step forwards for all of us who have a protected status. Until now, service providers could largely ignore our needs and fail to benefit from our skills, money etc. Under no circumstances should this legislation be removed. It would be helpful to ensure that there are very easy and cheap ways to access justice for vulnerable people, including mediation processes or assisted processes.

  • Shelagh Prosser said on June 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    This section of the Act should be strengthened not diluted. It is essential that protection is extended to age discrimination.

  • Anne Hayfield said on June 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

    At the moment harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation and religion or belief are NOT prohibited by the Act. They needs to be included.
    Private sector should be encouraged to make services fully accessible.
    Government should encourage private sector companies to implement best practice on equality by procurment. I.E.No public sector contract with out excellent equality & diversity policy and practice.

  • Dinah Cox said on June 18, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Should we scrap them altogether?
    No. No aspect of the Act should be scrapped. We all fall within one or more of the protected characteristics and therefore, could experience inequality and discrimination. The Act offers us a means by which we can be treated fairly and equally.
    Could their purpose be achieved in a non-regulatory way (eg through a voluntary code?) How?
    No. In order for groups to be able to challenge inequality and discrimination there needs to be basic principles they can draw upon which are enshrined in law. Before the Equality Act 2010 (and previous equality legislation) we were reliant on the voluntary actions of public authorities and organisations. The real experiences of inequality and discrimination during this voluntary period clearly demonstrate why a voluntary code does not work. A voluntary code does not give basic rights as understood by all parties but is reliant on the good will of those deeming to offer it. This is totally unacceptable.
    Could they be reformed, simplified or merged? How?
    No. The Equality Act 2010 is already a very recent simplification of past equalities legislation, such as the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 (RR(A)A) and Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA). The Act has been developed in extensive consultation with key partners from business and a wide range of communities. The provisions have been developed for all members of civil society, and provide rights and protections from discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 should not be reformed, simplified or merged. If we want a fair and equal society, then we need to enshrine that right in law.
    Can we reduce their bureaucracy through better implementation? How?
    No. The term bureaucracy is not helpful and implies that for a public authority to know its community is a dogmatic paper process, when in fact it can inform the policy and practice more effectively and can play a part in eliminating inequality and discrimination. If public authorities are to be held to account by the community they service, then there need to be clear, demonstrable measures that local communities can access.
    Can we make their enforcement less burdensome? How?
    It is no doubt a ‘burden’ on local communities and to civil society when communities face disadvantage and discrimination; this can lead to health and social inequalities, education and criminal justice inequalities and so on. For communities to be active and participative, then public authorities must be transparent and accountable for their actions. Far from being seen as burdensome, the enforcement of the Act is crucial in establishing a fully engaged civic society. Equal rights are not a burden, for example, do we consider it a burden when we say every child should have access to education?
    Should they be left as they are?
    Yes. Given the Act has been developed by extensive working across government departments, with cross-party support and with significant input from a diverse range of communities and businesses, any dilution of the Act will be seen as a regression. For equality and fairness to be reflected in our society the Act is essential. In fact the Act should be strengthened and enforced fully. Government must not and should not consider the rights of society as a ‘burden’.

  • MR.PETER.KILLE said on June 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    In our town [text deleted] we have a [text deleted] bank with steep steps. at the entrance..The bank applied to the local council to have the ste[s replaced by a ramp, as disabled customers found the steps hard or impossible to use (i.e. customers in wheelchairs.) Their application was refused on the grounds that the bank was in a conservation area. This is absurd. There should be some provision in the Act that would override any legislation concerning conservation areas, if the application is for an aid whcih would help disable persons.

  • Carole Saunders said on June 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    No change required

  • Tracy said on June 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Why are you even considering changing this legislation? Saving money is not a good enough reason to take away legal protection against any form of discrimination. Also, consider the time and money already spent on implenting the current legislation: as well as being morally wrong, more money will be spent in replacing it. Ridiculous!

  • Richard Neal said on June 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Leave it as it is. Quoting Anne Darby, a previous contributor; “It seems strange that an exercise on so called ‘red tape’ should run this consultation twice and require individuals to address their comments to a variety of headings. Should I repeat these comments on each of the options your web-site gave me?”
    It appears that this secondary exercise is designed to confuse and obfuscate the very nature of the public’s input into this “red tape” issue. By splitting the issues into various headings, there is less likelihood of the site visitors to contribute again.

  • Jed Comey said on June 16, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I think it they should be left as they are. I do not consider them to be unduly burdensome.

  • June said on June 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    The legislation exists for a reason – to protect consumers – if anything it needs stengthening not diluting.

  • Jacques Rangasamy MBE said on June 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    This act should be maintained and enforced fully. It ensures the fullest participation of all sectors of the population and contributes to fairness for all.

  • Ms Shuguftah Quddoos said on June 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Without public services having this Act in place they will not consider how their services impact smaller protected groups such as those with a hidden disability. This Act is needed to ensure fairness for everyone. It empowers those who have experinced discrimination at work to be able to challenge this effectively.

  • Anne Darby said on June 16, 2011 at 11:56 am

    This is new legislation and needs time to become practice. As it becomes part of the culture, discrimination will become as unacceptable as drink driving has become. That would not have happened without the legislation. We need legislation to help develop positive attitiudes that we are all deserving and have equal rights. As a Deaf person, it is very difficult to get equal access and the Equality Act is another step towards achieving fuller participation in society and the local community with a consequent health effect on the disadvantaged Deaf community and individuals and a healthier, more representative society. I would leave the legislation to bed in and then look for examples of best practice to promote to other businesses, services and agencies, including Government ones. My worry is the agencies and businesses, including Government departments, that feel themselves exempt from the legislation. I would hope that the Coalition embrace this legislation and find ways of making it work. As individuals, there are barriers to taking effective action on discrimination and more avenues should be available to support individual people to address failures of businesses, statutory bodies and others to provide and promote equal treatment.
    It seems strange that an exercise on so called ‘red tape’ should run this consultation twice and require individuals to address their comments to a variety of headings. Should I repeat these comments on each of the options your web-site gave me?

    Reply

    • Christine Burns MBE said on June 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

      I completely agree with this point.

      It is an insult to all the hundreds of stakeholders who spent thousands of hours of time responding to the massive consultation process leading to the Equality Act to conduct this kind of amateur populist review on legislation that hasn’t even been in force for a year.

      The civil service has a code of practice on consultations and the Red Tape Challenge premise breaks practically every principle

  • Shantele Janes said on June 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

    It is right to provide protection against discrimination in goods, facilities and services and to extend this to age discrimination. Very few cases are taken up as it is, because of the fact that this must go through county court which can be a costly process for claimants. We believe that it should be made easier to make a claim, because many people are put off by the process even when they have a strong case.

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