Equality & diversity

We’re committed to making sure all council services are accessible and free from prejudice and discrimination.

We aim to be an accessible and inclusive organisation. We welcome and respect the diversity of all people visiting, living and working in the county.

We have set out our commitment to equality in our council equality and diversity policy. If you need council information in large print, braille, audio or in another format or language - contact us:
  • telephone: 0345 600 6400 or see the website for landline numbers
  • fax: 01670 620 223
  • text phone: 01670 542 999
  • NGT: 18001 01670 622674 (for people with a speech or hearing impairment)
We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all suitably qualified people regardless of sex, religion or belief, race, age, sexual orientation, whether they are married or are in a civil partnership, are disabled, have a maternity or pregnancy status or are undergoing or intend to undergo gender reassignment.

We want to make sure our recruitment and selection processes are fair and accessible to everyone who applies to work here. The council is a Stonewall Diversity Champion and a Disability Confident employer. We encourage disabled applicants and will interview all those who meet the minimum essential criteria for a job vacancy.

In addition, all disabled applicants can ask for reasonable adjustments to be made during the application, interview and assessment process. See details further down the page in the ‘disability equality’, ‘access to work’ and the ‘staff disability network’ sections.
The Equality Act 2010 covers nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. Everyone has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment.

The protected characteristics are:
  • age
  • disability
  • race
  • sex
  • gender reassignment
  • sexual orientation
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • religion or belief
  • marriage and civil partnership
The Equality Act sets out the different unlawful ways to treat someone in providing services and in employment.
For more information, please visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.
The Equality Act 2010 requires us to carefully consider the effects of our services and practices. This helps us make sure our services are fair for all groups. It also helps us to tackle negative effects or discrimination and to promote equality.

Our current equality information report shows what we feel the key equality issues are, what we have in place already, and what else we feel is required. The report gives a summary of the main issues and the following appendices provide more detail:
1 - Workforce
2 - Children's Services
3 - Adult Services
4 - Public Health
5 - Local Services
6 - Corporate Resources
7 - Planning
8 - Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service

An easier read version is available here.

Last year's report is available here.

 
All public sector employers are required to publish information about gender pay gaps by 31
March 2018. The information is based on a snapshot date of 31 March 2017. The gender
pay gap shows the difference in the average pay between all men and women in the
workforce. If a workforce has a high pay gap this can indicate issues within the organisation
and the calculations can help identify the issues.

Gender Pay Gap Report
As part of our duty under the Equality Act 2010, the council publishes equality objectives every four years. These set out our equality priorities regarding employment practices and the way we provide services.

We published our first equality objectives in 2012. We reviewed our objectives in 2016 to check if they were still relevant and to consider how they might be updated.

As part of this process we tried to engage with as many different people and groups as we could to make sure the objectives we set were the right ones. We held a consultation to find out which objectives people thought we should prioritise over the next four years. 

Following the consultation, our equality objectives for 2016-20 are:

1. To ensure that our services are accessible for all customers we will improve collection of data about their experiences to help us improve our services for everyone in Northumberland.

2. To improve access to, and the experience of, council services for disabled people, and in particular older disabled people, to help bring their life opportunities more closely into line with those of other groups in the community.

3. Promote and foster an accessible and inclusive culture and working environment for all our staff

4. Work with communities to prevent hate incidents and crimes and encourage reporting.


If you would like to find out more about the consultation and to see why we have chosen these objectives, please see our consultation report.

We are developing an action plan to help us meet our objectives.

If you need this information in large print, braille, audio, or another format please contact us:
Telephone: 01670 622674
Fax: 01670 620 223
Text phone: 01670 542 999
NGT: 18001 01670 622674 (for people with a speech or hearing impairment)
Email: Keith.Thompson@northumberland.gov.uk.
  • Click here for guidance about making information accessible to everyone
  • For information about making a meeting accessible, click here
  • For information about how language can influence and reflect the way people think about disabled people, click here.
Visit England has produced a useful guide that covers how to get assistance at railway stations and information about accommodation, restaurants and places to visit that have been specifically assessed for those with access needs.

It also includes information about parking and facilities for blue badge users, an app to help locate accessible toilet facilities and suggestions for accessible walks and activities in the countryside.
The council has a legislative duty to consider the impact of decisions it takes, including decisions about budget savings that affect people who share a protected characteristic. To help us with this, we have an equality impact assessment tool we use when key decisions that may have an impact are considered.

The council also completes an annual strategic equality analysis focusing on its functions and services. This is included in our annual equality information.

 
We guarantee to interview anyone with a disability whose application meets the minimum essential criteria.

If you have a disability, tick the disability box on the application form or let the appointing officer know you wish to be considered under the guaranteed interview scheme. The appointing officer is the person named in the job advert to contact about the vacancy. If you do not know who the appointing officer is contact the council, ask for employee services and provide the vacancy reference number.

You will be offered an interview if your application meets all of the essential requirements in the person specification. Your application doesn’t have to meet all the desirable conditions if you are applying under the guaranteed interview scheme.

If you make an application as a disabled person and you do not have a disability, this could result in a job offer being withdrawn. Please see the guidance on the definition of disability below if you are not sure if you meet the Equality Act definition of a disabled person.

If you’re disabled, you’ll be given the opportunity to identify adjustments you require to the application form, to attend an interview or during the assessment process. These could include requesting an interview room on the ground floor, requesting a morning or afternoon interview or requesting large print documents. For other examples of adjustments, please see the guidance for managers in supporting disabled staff.

If you feel you meet the essential criteria, but haven’t been offered an interview, please contact the appointing officer.

Access to Work
Access to Work is a source of funding to support disabled employees.
It pays for practical support for those with a disability, health or mental health condition, to help them do their job. If you fit these criteria you may be able to apply.

There’s no set amount for a grant, as it is based on circumstances. The money you get can pay for things like:
  • specialist equipment
  • travel when you can’t use public transport
  • a communicator at a job interview
  • a support worker or job coach to help you in work
  • disability awareness for your colleagues
  • adaptations to the equipment you use
Your disability or health condition must affect your ability to do a job or mean you incur work-related costs, e.g. travel costs because you can’t use public transport.

Your mental health condition must affect your ability to do a job and mean you need support to:
  • start a new job
  • reduce absence from work
  • stay in work
To find out more about Access to Work, click on the link below:- Or to check your eligibility:-

Glasgow (for Scotland, North West England, North East England, Yorkshire and Humberside)
Access to Work - Glasgow
atwosu.glasgow@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0141 950 5327
Textphone: 0345 602 5850
Fax: 0141 950 5265

Definition of disability and guidance for managers supporting disabled staff
It can be difficult for employees and managers to assess if a person’s medical condition is defined as a disability and is protected by the Equality Act 2010. Some conditions automatically mean a person is considered to be disabled. These include a person who has cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV or a qualifying sight condition, among other things.
Other conditions, which may be progressive or fluctuating, can be more difficult to assess. A guide has been produced to help people identify whether they meet the Equality Act’s definition of disability.

We also have guidance for managers supporting disabled staff.

Staff disability network
We set up a network, in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to help improve the experience of disabled members of staff working in both organisations. The group is open to all staff interested in making our organisations more inclusive.

For more information, please contact Irene Fisher at Irene.Fisher@northumberland.gov.uk
Under the Equality Act 2010, the council does not have any powers to make other businesses make adjustments to their premises unless they make an application under building regulations to extend or refurbish their building or, in some cases, apply for licenses.

Complaints about failure to make a reasonable adjustment to premises must be made by the person discriminated against or their representative. It explains how equality law applies to all businesses and includes information on providing goods, facilities and services in different sectors. It also explains what action you can take if you feel you have been discriminated against.

The equality advisory & support service advises and assists individuals on equality and human rights issues. They will work with people to decide the best action to take to resolve an issue.
Council commitment to LGBT equality

The council is a Stonewall diversity champion, which means it is part of a best practice forum for employers which aims to improve the experience of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans* staff and staff with multiple identities. The term trans* includes those with different gender identities and gender expressions. Including people who identify as non-binary. The council has been working together with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to improve the experience of LGBT staff in the workplace.

"We want Northumberland County Council to be an accessible and inclusive organisation that reflects the communities we serve. At the core of our values is the belief that everyone, independent of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves the right to feel safe and supported in the workplace and in accessing services". - Daljit Lally, chief executive, Northumberland County Council. 

Staff Policies and Benefits

As a council, all of our policies and benefits are LGBT inclusive and there are specific policies which provide targeted support, for example the Dignity at Work policy and the Trans* Inclusion in the Workplace policy. Benefits provided for spouses are also available for civil partners.

We have a nominated HR partner who can offer support and advice to Trans* job applicants who may have questions about the recruitment process and what information to record on application forms. If you are a Trans* applicant or member of staff, you can contact Rebecca Harding on Tel: 01670626150 or e-mail: Rebecca.Harding@northumberland.gov.uk.

LGBT staff Group

Our LGBT staff group meets regularly to talk about how things can be improved and provide support. The group is open to LGBT and non-LGBT staff with an interest in creating a more inclusive workplace. For confidential LGBT advice please contact: equality.diversity@northumbria.nhs.uk, or for more information about the group, contact our joint Nortumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare LGBT champion Patrick Price at: Patrick.Price@northumbria.nhs.uk.

Dignity and Respect

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can negatively affect employees’ and service users’ well-being. If not tackled, this behaviour can have very serious consequences, for the individual who is bullied or harassed and also for colleagues who witness such incidents. This, in turn, can negatively affect the organisation as a whole.

The council has a zero tolerance approach to incidents of bullying or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression and details about how to report concerns are outlined in the Dignity at Work policy which is available on the staff intranet. Staff can also seek confidential support from the LGBT staff group by contacting equality.diversity@northumbria.nhs.uk, or by reporting any concerns to Safecall this is an independent helpline open to all staff.Support is also available from trade union representatives. Service users may report any concerns, comments or compliments through the Council’s website here or at any council customer information centre.

 

Bisexual people in the workplace
We know people perform better when they can be themselves. Despite many great strides made to achieve sexual orientation equality, many bisexual people still feel unable to be themselves at work and some feel that there is a lack of understanding about the issues they may face. Some practical advice for employers is available here.

23 September, every year, is Bi Visibility day (also known as international celebrate bisexuality day) which celebrates bisexuality, challenges stigma and discrimination and hopes to raise the profile of people who identify as bisexual.
 
Bisexuality refers to having an attraction to more than one gender. The ‘B’ in LGBT represents people who identify as Bi.
 
Research suggests that some people who identify as bisexual face challenges feeling part of a community, and in some areas across the UK the relative lack of specific support groups and services may compound feelings of not belonging to a community. (Equality Network, 2015). 
 
Stonewall Report found that only 18% of bi men and 14% of bi women are comfortable being out to all colleagues, managers and customers or service users and this can affect their well-being and health.
 
The same report identified that only 23% of bi people could identify a Bi role model in their workplace. Our Equality & Diversity allies have displayed a series of posters profiling inspirational bi people and their stories in Council buildings to send a clear message of support to Bi people. Information on how to make services and the workplace more inclusive for Bi staff and service users can be found on the Bi visibility Day website

For information about our Equality & Diversity allies, please contact irene.fisher@northumberland.gov.uk
 
Patrick Price the Council’s Equality Lead and an LGBT Champion said, “We are pleased to be able to highlight the achievements of Bi role models. We know people perform better when they can be themselves. Despite many great strides made to achieve sexual orientation equality, many bisexual people still feel unable to be themselves at work and some feel that there is a lack of understanding about the issues they may face and so we are sharing information with colleagues to help make services more inclusive for for Bi service users and staff.”
 
The Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have a joint LGBT staff group that provides help and support on LGBT issues to all staff. For more information about the group or confidential support on LGBT issues contact Patrick Price at patrick.price@nhct.nhs.uk

Trans people 
Stonewall has produced some guidance "get it right" to help organisations with their trans service users and customers.

The County Council took part in the North East Trans Lives Matter conference in July 2017.  Following this conference a report was produced with information from the event and information about useful resources.

In October 2017, Northumberland County Council launched a trans toolkit to support young people in schools with gender identity issues. 


Trans Allies
People who are going through the process of changing from one gender to another can face extreme hostility and prejudice, and are at a greatly increased risk of self-harm and suicide.

A survey conducted by PACE, a LGBT mental health charity found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the past year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so.

To help raise awareness we have a Trans inclusion policy.

View our poster about being a trans ally.

Mesmac North East provides information and resources for LGBT people in the region.
 

We celebrate those who have made a difference to the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Northumberland. Role models could be anyone who shares a protected characteristic and wants to share their experience. If you want to be a diversity role model and/or an equality and diversity ally, please email: Irene.Fisher@northumberland.gov.uk
 

'I think what you're seeing is a profound recognition... that gays, bisexuals, lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they've got to be treated like every other person and I think that principle will win out.' - Barack Obama
 

Role models are very important to LGBT people – a role model is someone to look up to, who celebrates diversity, champions equality and has a voice on behalf of those who need the most support.  Whether you identify as LGBT, or are an ally of LGBT people, be inspired by these stories and think about how you can be a role model too. Click on the names to read more about each person.

"One of the most important strands which underpins my ethos of teaching is to celebrate individuality and that it is more than OK to be different. I feel very strongly that our pupils should feel happy and comfortable within their own skin: that they should feel safe and secure and that they are confident of seeking support and strategies should they need any guidance or advice." - Cate Haslam Northumberland LGBT role model

"It is important to me, knowing my own struggles, that your sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic background, faith or disability should never be a barrier to leading a successful life." - Mark Phillips, Northumberland LGBT role model

“I believe when we are true to ourselves we can achieve anything. As a proud woman with a trans history I know the challenges others can face, and I will continue to be a support to my community and indeed every community. We must celebrate diversity and build vibrant and strong communities” - Phillippa Scrafton, Stonewall Programmes Officer
 

"I am out, I am proud, I am Bi and I am visibility promoting our vibrant and diverse community." - Sue Vincent Jones, LGBT role model. Find out more about Sue or other role models, Suryatapa and Simon by clicking their names.

"Sometimes it felt like an easier option to give in and conform, but I knew how I felt wasn't just a phase, it was who I was. I identify as neither male nor female and that is ok." - Saffron Mee

Saffron was also featured in this newspaper article talking about Northumberland County Council's Trans Toolkit for schools.

"As a senior manager working across Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare, making myself visible helps LGBT staff see that I faced no bar to career progression because I was an out gay man who was passionate about equality and diversity." - Patrick Price, equality & diversity lead and LGBT champion for Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. For more information about our LGBT network please contact Patrick on (01670) 629105 or at Patrick.Price@nhct.nhs.uk
Why should I fill in equality monitoring forms?
Wherever you go, people want to know your business - your age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or whether you’re disabled. Where does all this information go? Does filling in the forms make any difference?

The information provided is taken seriously and helps with setting priorities, understanding who is or isn’t using our services, or if their experience of the council is different to other peoples. Equality monitoring helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we need to improve.

As a result of feedback from previous surveys, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and disability staff groups were set up and these groups have been important in producing guidance for managers. They have contributed to training, support for staff and engagement with these groups.

For information about why we collect this information, and to help with questions about equality monitoring, Stonewall has produced a plain-English guide - What's it got to do with you? This explains why a range of data may now be requested by employers and service providers, and what the benefit of providing this information is.

Equality monitoring in the workforce
It is important to us to understand how representative our workforce is of our wider community and to check our processes and practices are accessible and fair. We also have a legal duty to collect and publish data on this. Therefore, we are asking our staff to help as we attempt to gather this information.

Click here for a copy of our equality monitoring form.

Equality monitoring in our services
It is also important for us, in some situations, to collect equality monitoring data about the people who use our services, so we can ensure they’re accessible to everyone. We have produced guidance for services on how and when to appropriately do this.

For further information about equality monitoring, please contact Irene Fisher.
An equality and diversity ally is someone who is committed to equality and diversity and human rights, wants to help raise awareness of equality and diversity topics and to contribute to developing a positive culture.

This can be anyone within the council or our partner organisations, regardless of their role or experience. Training and support will be provided. If you would like to become an ally, or for more information, contact Irene Fisher or Keith Thompson.
Hate crime is an extreme manifestation of prejudice and discrimination. It can have a devastating effect on individuals and communities. We work closely with the police and others to tackle all forms of hate crime, take action against perpetrators, support victims and protect the public. Hate crime can include verbal abuse, threatening behaviour, offensive graffiti, harassment, malicious communications, damage to property and violence.

We encourage anyone who experiences hate crime to report it immediately. This is vital to ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. Hate crime will not be tolerated in Northumberland. Hate crime is any criminal offence where anyone believes the victim has been targeted because of their race/ethnicity, religion/belief, gender/gender identity, disability, age, sexual orientation or any other actual or perceived characteristic.

Hate incidents are different in that they do not constitute a criminal offence but cause alarm, distress or harassment. It is still based on the belief the victim has been targeted because of one of the actual or perceived differences above. Hate crimes and incidents can also be directed at whole communities – for example desecration of graveyards, vandalism of places of worship, offensive graffiti in public places or acts of terrorism. 

Homophobia and homophobic bullying and harassment
Homophobia is an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against people who are gay or homosexual. Homophobic bullying and harassment can be described as any hostile or offensive action against lesbians, gays, bisexual or transgender people, or those perceived to be as such.
These actions might be:
  • verbal, physical, or emotional (social exclusion) harassment, insulting or degrading comments, name calling, gestures, taunts, insults, threats or 'jokes'
  • offensive graffiti
  • humiliating, excluding, tormenting, ridiculing or threatening or refusing to work/ co-operate with others because of their sexual orientation or identity
We have a bullying and harassment policy for protection of our employees, which outlines how members of staff can seek support. 

Reporting hate crime

Why report a hate crime?
Only a reported hate crime can be properly dealt with. No-one has the right to harass, threaten or assault anyone because of who they are. If you need to report a hate crime in an emergency, call the police on 999 – particularly if it’s still happening or has just happened. Callers can report an incident anonymously, although personal details mean it’s easier to investigate.

If you do not wish to report to the police, you can report an incident to Northumberland County Council in the following ways: When you contact the council you will be referred to someone who can help. All information is treated in the strictest confidence.