Equalities and procurement

Introduction

The Equality Act 2010 has a requirement to ensure that equality is considered within all aspects of local authority work. This includes procurement and contractors.

The main provisions of the Equality Act 2010 came into force in October 2010. The new public sector equality duty (PSED) was introduced in April 2011. The range of protected characteristics now included are age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief and sexual orientation. The PSED makes it clear that in the exercise of its functions, we must have due regard to the need to:

  1. eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the act
  2. advance equality of opportunity between people who share a characteristic and those who don’t
  3. foster good relations between people who share a characteristic and those who don’t

The act explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves:

  • removing or minimising disadvantages experienced by people due to their protected characteristics
  • taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people
  • encouraging people with protected characteristics to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low
The results of a survey undertaken by the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), the Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government (IDeA), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Society of Procurement Officers showed that it was felt that the Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) stage was probably the best place to consider monitoring. However, the survey also showed that the part of the process least implemented and where staff felt least confident was monitoring after the contract has been awarded.

The process detailed below and the documents attached will help officers when undertaking the procurement process to ensure equalities is considered and included at the correct time.

The equalities process is explained in parallel to the procurement process and is therefore divided into the following sections.

Process and information

Stage 1: Pre-approval

This stage will require Stage 1 of the equalities impact assessment (EIA) to be completed.  Equality impact assessment form [Word | 278KB]

Stage 2: Pre qualification questionnaire (PQQ)

This stage includes ensuring the standard equalities questions and scoring schedule are included in the PQQ. This will allow all the corporate equalities issues to be evaluated for each company.

Procurement pack PQQ equality questions [PDF | 145KB]

Stage 3: Invitation to tender (ITT) and documentation

This stage allows WDC officers to consider equalities and the requirements of the Equalities Act 2010 when producing the ITT letter, specification (service and monitoring requirements) and terms and conditions.

Specification

When first starting this stage you need to consider some questions linked to the services/products being procured and how the contract will be monitored in the future. To help with this process some questions are provided in Annex 2 and 5. It is important that at this stage the client officer meets with the equality officer to agree specific questions that can be asked. The pack only provides example questions that work towards providing the necessary information and  will need to be adapted for each ITT.

When this stage is completed the results will help guide what information if any you need to add to the specification concerning equalities and ongoing contract monitoring.

ITT letter

Annex 3 provides one appendix (Equal Opportunity Policy) which needs to be appended to the ITT letter.

Terms and conditions (T and Cs)

A standard paragraph on Discrimination which must be added to all T&Cs is included in Appendix 4.

Stage 4: Contract award

This stage requires the completion of the EIA (Stages 2 – 4) prior to contract award. This will need to be completed by the relevant officer and signed off by the relevant Head of Service and sent to the Council’s Equalities Officer for publication prior to any contract being awarded.

Stage 5: Contract monitoring

This stage ensures the ongoing monitoring of equalities alongside the contract monitoring process. The monitoring required will have already been considered in Stage 3 and it is now time for implementation. However Appendix 5 includes some reminders about questions to ask and monitor.

Help and guidance

See Equality and Human Rights Commission for further guidance including bite sized training modules and FAQs about meeting the PSED requirements.

If you require any help or guidance please contact Vickie McSwiggan.