Equality & diversity

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

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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 and our equality in employment policy.

Contact us online 

You can apply for a council service, report a problem, or pay for services on our website at any time via our self-service area:  

Contact us by phone 

You can call us on 0345 600 6400:  

  • Monday to Thursday 08:30am - 5pm  

  • Friday 08:30am - 4.30pm 

Customers with speech difficulties or hearing loss 
If you have speech difficulties or hearing loss you can use Relay UK to contact us by dialling 018001 01670 623515 you can find more information about Relay UK here 


British Sign Language users can now contact Northumberland County Council using SignVideo an online sign language interpreting service. 
SignVideo logo 
To contact us using this service click this link: northumberlandcc-cs.signvideo.net 

SignVideo Service information: 

For troubleshooting and technical guidance, please contact help@signvideo.co.uk

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. We are a Disability Confident employer. We welcome disabled applicants and offer a guaranteed Interview to disabled applicants who meet the minimum essential criteria for a job vacancy. Disabled job applicants can notify HR that they wish to apply for this scheme. If you wish to notify us of your eligibility for this scheme, please email hrrecruitment@northumberland.gov.uk with your name and the job title you have applied for and one of the recruitment team will ensure this is considered in the shortlisting process. This information will be treated as confidential.  

If you have a disability and prefer to apply in a different format or would like us to make reasonable adjustments to enable you apply for a job please let the team know.  

Trans or non-binary applicants can request confidential support from the Trans Inclusion HR Officer during the application process by email hrrecruitment@northumberland.gov.uk 

Our job vacancies are advertised on the Jobs North East website or the council website. 
Disabled applicants can ask for reasonable adjustments to be made during the application, interview, and assessment process. See further information 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.

Equality information

Workforce Equality Analysis Report 2021 992 KB (PDF document)
Workforce Equality Analysis Report 2022 776 KB (PDF document)
Workforce Equality Analysis Report 2023 9.44MB (PDF document)
Workforce Equality Analysis Report 2024 623 KB (PDF document)
Easy Read Equality Objectives 2021 2.7 MB (PDF document)
Equality Summary Report: Equality Objectives Consultation 2021 1.3 MB (PDF document)
Equality Information Report 2023 1MB (PDF document)
Equality Information Report 2024 1.6 MB (PDF document)

Public sector duties

The public sector Equality Duty is made up of a general equality duty which is supported by specific duties. The general duty requires us to have due regard to the need to: 

(a) eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 

(b) advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; 

(c) foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. 

Under the terms of the specific duty, we must: 

  • prepare and publish one or more objectives that will support the council in meeting the requirements of the general Equality Duty 

  • ensure that those objectives are specific and measurable 

  • publish those objectives in such a manner that they are accessible to the public Please see information on our equality objectives below 

  • Publish relevant, proportionate information demonstrating compliance with the Equality Duty 

As part of our duty under the Equality Act 2010, the council publishes equality objectives every four years. These set out our equality priorities as an employer and for our 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. Following the consultation, we set equality objectives for 2016-20

You can find out more about the consultation and these objectives, in our 2016-2020 consultation report.

Consultation on our Equality Objectives was affected by Covid-19 but we have consulted on our equality objectives for 2021-2025. Our aim is to make equality, diversity and inclusion part of the way the council works, placing it at the heart of everything we do. 

Our Equality Objectives for 2021-2025 are: 

  1. Strengthen our knowledge and understanding of the needs of our communities. 

  1.  Listen to, involve and respond to our communities effectively.

  1. Improve the diversity and skills of our workforce to help us embed equality, diversity and inclusion in how we deliver services and support our staff.

  1. Create a positive culture, with a clear leadership commitment to improving equality diversity and inclusion both within the council, with our partners and the wider community. 

You can find out more about our Equality Objectives in the documents below:

Easy Read Equality Objectives 2021 2.7 MB (PDF document)
Equality Summary Report: Equality Objectives Consultation 2021 1.3 MB (PDF document)

All public sector employers are required to publish information about gender pay gaps by 31 March. 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.
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, please click here.

Glasgow (for Scotland, North West England, North East England, Yorkshire and Humberside)
Access to Work - Glasgow
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.

We have produced some information about inclusive language and disability.

Staff Disability Network
We set up a network 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.

Further accessibilty guidance
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.
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.

The Council aims to recruit a diverse workforce and encourages applications from suitably qualified LGBT applicants.

We recognise that Trans* and non binary applicants may have questions about the recruitment process and what information to record on application forms.

If you need support, please contact HR with the job reference you are applying for: 

LGBT+ Staff Network

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. 

Dignity and Respect

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can negatively affect employees’ and service users’ wellbeing. 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 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.

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.
Why should I fill in equality monitoring forms?
Wherever you go, people want to know your business - your age, sex, 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.

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. 
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.
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.