The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland responded in July 2016 with recommendations for the Northern Ireland government on their Programme for Government Framework. Their full response is available along with a key point briefing.
The Commission welcomes the emphasis to focus on the impact on people rather than solely on the actions taken within Government, the emphasis on working across Government and on full engagement and co-design with stakeholders.
Their recommendations include:
- We recommend that the PfG makes explicit that all relevant PfG measures (and as such all relevant indicators and all outcomes) will be tracked, not only in aggregate, but also for each of the Section 75 grounds.
Why: While the Framework includes some clear references to equality and good relations, there is a need to ensure mainstreaming of equality across the Framework as a whole.
- We recommend that the Executive ensures that PfG measures are sufficient to track progress fundamental to achieving stated outcomes.
Why: In the Framework, ‘measures’ can be much more narrowly defined than their parent ‘indicator’ (or ‘outcome’). For example, the ‘shared space’ indicator is measured only in relation to certain facilities (eg leisure centres). The PfG Framework does not therefore contain any measures on shared space more generally, or in employment, education or housing etc.
- We recommend that the Department review the evidence base already gathered for the PfG through the lens of Section 75. This evidence should be set out and inform the assessment of impacts via screening and/or EQIA documentation.
Why: The work and functions of the the Executive Office, including with other Departments and Councils to deliver the PfG, are subject to the statutory equality and good relations duties – including the application of Equality Scheme commitments.