24 April 2012
Sandra Osborne, MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, led the debate. Flanked by the shadow equality minister, Kate Green, Sandra highlighted the massive 62% cut to the budget and the 73% cut to staffing being made by 2015. Sandra explained how the resulting loss of experienced specialist staff, outsourcing of an advice helpline for an inferior referral service, closure of regional offices and shutdown of the grants function would all serve to take equalities and human rights back by decades in Great Britain.
While the government claims that certain services are not necessary so that they can easily be closed down, evidence from independent experts was given that showed how essential they are. The helpline takes more than 70,000 calls a year, while the regional offices gather intelligence about emerging local issues and are often the last remaining place for help where advice deserts have grown. The grants function offers money on a strategic basis to, among others, charities and advocacy organisations.
PCS is working with others to save the EHRC with its current funding and remit, and ensure that the issue stays on the agenda.