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Equality and diversity

Equality Action Plan 2021-2024

Published in November 2021


Contents

What is the Equality Action Plan?
1. Growing an inclusive economy
2. Working and learning
3. Living here
4. Cross-cutting
5. Our organisational priorities


What is the Equality Action Plan?

This Equality Action Plan runs from 2021 until 2024. It is a corporate level document which outlines how we will promote equality and diversity in our ambitions to create a city in which people love to live, learn, invest, work and visit. It also contributes to our compliance with Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

What other documents is the Equality Action Plan linked to?

1. The Equality Action Plan is developed from some of the information in the Audit of Inequalities, which is a systematic approach to identify inequalities, across the nine Section 75 categories (religious belief, political opinion, race, age, gender, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, people with dependants or without), which are relevant to a public authority’s functions.

2. The Equality Action Plan contains some of the key priorities from our Corporate Plan, which will have the biggest impact on inequalities. Our Corporate Plan is a reflection of what people in Belfast have told us they want and the type of leadership they feel the city needs. It takes the priorities of the Belfast Agenda, the Community Plan, and sets out the ways in which the council will deliver these to grow a sustainable, inclusive economy and equitable society. To fulfil our responsibilities, our Corporate Plan not only ensures we deliver the day to day services which the people of Belfast rely upon; we stretch ourselves through a series of strategic priorities to ensure we positively affect the lives of everyone in Belfast

How are the actions in the Equality Action Plan categorised?

Actions are categorised according to the Corporate Plan priority they contribute to. Each action includes a timescale for delivery, a performance indicator and the name of the department responsible for delivery. We will report on these actions annually. 

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1. Growing an inclusive economy

We will work to create an inclusive, resilient economy through creating good, sustainable jobs. A thriving urban economy is a key foundation to achieving many of the outcomes in the Belfast Agenda. Not only can a successful economy generate the wealth required to grow local businesses, generate jobs and offer routes out of poverty for struggling families, it is also the main source of revenue for the city’s public services, programmes and interventions. Table 1 shows our priorities for growing an inclusive economy.

Table 1 Growing an inclusive economy for Belfast
Reference number Actions Timescale Performance indicator Departmental responsibility
1.1

Access to Employment work package

Deliver employment academies in sectors focused on workforce demand (logistics, social care, child care, public sector), removing barriers to people furthest removed from the labour market to enter into or return to employment or advance in employment. (Annual programme)

2021-2024
  • Percentage participating in Employment Academies
  •  Percentage into employment

(Reviewed at key checkpoints in the year as the state of play within the labour market becomes clearer).

Place and Economy
1.2 Support five training and skills development projects via the European Social Fund (in partnership with The Executive Office), targeting those who are long-term unemployed, younger people not in education, employment or training and people with disabilities.  2021-2024 Number of participants achieving positive outcomes Place and Economy
1.3

Develop a GIS monitoring approach to systematically assist programme development to continue to tackle inequalities in access to the labour market. 

2021-2024
  • Effective monitoring mechanism established to better understand inequalities, and the needs of S75 groupings.
  • Improve quality and quantity of monitoring information to support policy-making on Employability and Skills (retrospective measure)
Place and Economy
1.4

Working with partners and stakeholders across the city to put in place an (enterprise framework) action plan which supports long term ambitions to increase the number of business start-ups, including targeting workless residents, females and young people and any under-represented groups

2021-2024
  • Increase in percentage of participants from under-represented groups on enterprise awareness initiatives.
  • Number of business starts.
Place and Economy
1.5 Understand the barrier to employment to support employability skills and capacity building programme for disabled people and those from ethnic minority groups. 2021-2022
  • Use insights to inform programme design.
Place and Economy
1.6

Deliver the Access and Inclusion Programme of capital enhancement projects to encourage engagement with culture, arts and heritage experiences (subject to funding).

2021-2024
  • Number of small capital enhancement projects delivered.
Place and Economy
1.7

Develop schemes to support higher participation and representation at cultural events by disabled people such as gig buddies.

2021-2024
  • Number of events supported by gig buddies
Place and Economy
1.8 Deliver 'A City Imagining' projects targeting LGBTQ Plus groups, ethnic minority and newcomer communities, disabled people, older people, schools and multi-lingual communities. 2021-2024
  • Number of participants
Place and Economy
1.9

Development, publication and full public consultation of draft Social Value Policy

2021-2022
  • Publication of finalised policy and guidance 
Cross- departmental

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2. Working and learning

We will work to ensure people are appropriately skilled for the jobs created in the city. Education is the foundation for a better life, not only in facilitating future employment and providing access to a fulfilling adult life, but also as a major contributor to a person’s well-being and to shaping lifelong health. Working with our partners, we will bring forward a work programme which supports the inclusive growth ambitions of the council with a focus on addressing barriers to progression. Table 2 shows our priority area for working and learning.

Table 2 Working and learning
Reference number Action Timescale Performance indicator Departmental responsibility
2.1 Focus on young people by delivering the Youth Support Programme targeting young people between 14 and 24 years old at risk or disengaged from formal education, training or employment.   2021-2024 Percentage participating in positive outcomes in education, training and employment. Place and Economy

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3. Living here

Our city and neighbourhoods are vibrant, resilient and safe places where people choose to live, work and spend time being healthier and more active. In our recent residents' survey, 86 per cent of respondents said they are satisfied with Belfast as a place to live. We want everyone to be satisfied. We want to deliver a high quality of life for everyone. In doing so, we must deliver and plan effective public spaces and conserve our natural environment so it can be accessed and enjoyed. Table 3 shows Living here (in Belfast) action plans and strategies

Table 3 Living here strategies and plans
Reference number Action Timescale Performance indicator Departmental responsibility
3.1

Deliver the Age-friendly Belfast Plan 2018-2021 assess achievements, identify challenges and develop a new Age-friendly Belfast plan 2022-2025

2021
  • Measure outcomes framework
  • Consult with older people and stakeholders
  • Review baseline information
  • Develop new plan and begin to deliver in 2022
City and Neighbourhood Services
3.2 Finalise and implement the Belfast Open Spaces Strategy 2021

To be determined as part of the action plan development.

City and Neighbourhood Services
3.3

Develop a Sport and Physical Activity Strategy

2021

To be determined as part of the action plan development.

City and Neighbourhood Services
3.4 Implement the programme of development of playgrounds across the city to further improve accessibility (following consultation with disability groups in 2021).  2021

To be determined following consultation with disability groups.

City and Neighbourhood Services
3.5

Achieve Onus Safe City status and retain platinum-level status

2021
  • Re-accreditation of Onus Workplace Charter Platinum-level
  • Safe City Status achieved 
Cross-departmental
3.6 Review and implement the council’s Toilet Provision Strategy to improve the accessibility of toilets and maintain and promote the Changing Places toilet facility  2021-2024
  • Report on the review of existing process and the number of stakeholder organisations engaged for 2019/2020.
  • Increase in choice of available Changing Places facilities across the city over the next 24 months.
City and Neighbourhood Services
3.7

Development of the new crematorium and our intention to acquire additional burial land, particularly for north and west of the city.

These are medium to long term projects. Time scales will be determined as the projects are developed.

To be determined as the project develops.

City and Neighbourhood Services
3.8

Develop a co-design approach to engage communities in social and community recovery planning.

To be determined as the approach is developed.

To be determined as the approach is developed.

City and Neighbourhood Services
3.9

Cultural mapping and understanding barriers (research and engagement) to support the delivery of capacity-building programme (with tailored strands including Section 75)

2021-2024
  • Publish research document
Place and Economy
3.10

Create an audience panel that contains a range of voices including those underrepresented in cultural engagement (proactively recruit those whose voices are not heard as often)

2021-2024
  • Four focus group meetings a year held with audience panel 
Place and Economy
3.11

To develop and deliver the next phases of the City Centre Connectivity Study (CCCS), that is to create a green, walkable, cyclable network of connected streets and places will:

  • improve the health and wellbeing for all
  • revitalise the city’s economy and
  • restore a sense of collective pride in the centre of Belfast among the communities within and around it
2021-2024 To be determined as part of the development of the next phases of the study, which will include public consultation and equality screening exercise. Place and Economy

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4. Cross-cutting

Our cross-cutting priorities will have a multitude of social, economic and environmental benefits for the city. These priorities include opportunities to fundamentally change the city, culturally, physically and economically and help achieve the big ambitions of the Belfast Agenda. Table 4 shows our cross-cutting priorities.

Table 4 Cross-cutting priorities
Reference number Action Timescale Performance indicator Departmental responsibility
4.1 Design, implement and pilot an Inclusive Growth Decisions Making Framework 2021-2024 The BCC inclusive growth decision-making framework is agreed and rolled out.

City and Organisational Strategy

4.2

Co-design an Inclusive Growth City Charter in collaboration with our city partners which encourages or offers recognition for organisations that adopt business practices as employers, procurers or in the delivery of services which have been proven to create more inclusive economic growth

2021-2024
  • A draft charter is finalised and publicly consulted on by April 2021.
  • A final charter programme is launched and a range of businesses sign up by April 2022.

The charter actions and initiatives acknowledge the additional barriers many groups of citizens face in employment and are designed to mitigate against these barriers.

  • A number of city partners/employers adopt more inclusive growth business practices.
  • There is an increased awareness around the benefits of inclusive growth business practices amongst employers across Belfast, with sharing of best practice.
  • Economic growth opportunities across the city are more accessible to all residents.
City and Organisational Strategy
4.3 Design and deliver the Shared Spaces programme 2022-2023
  • Delivery of physical programme under the PEACE IV Shared Spaces and Services theme 
City and Neighbourhood Services
4.4

Build relationships across communities to increase confidence using and developing shared spaces and services

2021-2024
  • Percentage increase in number of participants who feel safe attending event, activities, and facilities in areas associated with a different background
City and Neighbourhood Services
4.5

Help address issues of demarcation and division including flags, murals and other symbols

2021-2024
  • Delivery of actions within Good Relations Plan working towards a Shared City vision
City and Neighbourhood Services
4.6

Design and deliver the Interfaces Programme

2021-2024
  • Percentage increase in number of participants who feel safe attending event, activities, and facilities in areas associated with a different background.
  • Contributions towards physical works and programming that encourage attitudinal change and a greater sense of belonging and social value.
Cross-departmental
4.7 Encourage a re-imagining of the cultural significance of upcoming commemorations under the Decade of Centenaries 2022-2023
  • Development of a Decade of Centenaries (DoC) Programme based on the DoC principles on shared perspectives.
  • Percentage increase in the number of participants who feel comfortable socialising in a shared space they would not normally visit
City and Neighbourhood Services
4.8 Encourage cultural expression to be celebrated and undertaken within a culture of lawfulness 2021-2024
  • Percentage increase in the number of participants who think the culture and traditions of Catholics, Protestants and minority ethnic people add to the richness and diversity of Northern Ireland society.
City and Neighbourhood Services
4.9

Development, publication and full public consultation of draft Local Policies Plan (LPP) [to include an Equality Impact Assessment, as well as a Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Appraisal and Rural Needs Impact Assessment]

2021-2023
  • Publication of finalised policies following independent examination
Place and Economy
4.10 Development, publication and full public consultation on Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) topic areas 2021-2023
  • Publication of finalised range of SPG policies 
Place and Economy
4.11 Build the capacity of disengaged and marginalised citizens and community leaders and changemakers to engage  2021-2023 City and Organisational Strategy
4.12

Produce a consultation and engagement toolkit for officers

Provide ongoing advice and capacity-building

2021-2024
  • Percentage of residents who agree that council consults with and listens to the views of local residents (survey in 2021 and 2023)
City and Organisational Strategy
4.13 Work with community planning partners to improve how data is accessed and utilised to ensure the Belfast Agenda process understands and takes action to address inequalities 2021-2024
  • Belfast Agenda dashboard updated.

Consultation and engagement give all people equal opportunity to participate 

City and Organisational Strategy
4.14

Promote Inclusive Growth (IG) through the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) Action 1 over 10 years.

Develop clear and robust arrangements to monitor how well actions to promote IG through the BRCD are delivering. 

This will help us to report on progress at both a geographical and on a priority group basis to improve understanding of what types of interventions and policy changes work best in which circumstances and for which groups.

2021-2024
  • Monitoring and evaluation arrangements in place and communicated to partners 
Finance and Resources
4.15

Promote Inclusive Growth (IG) through the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) Action 2 over 10 years.

  • Deliver new and better jobs to the BRCD region and support the region’s economic recovery efforts.

This will be done in the context of IG and will include programmes and interventions to enable all groups, particularly those furthest from the labour market, to avail of the opportunities emerging through the capital investment.

2021-2024
  • Establish an Employability and Skills programme to support the ambitions of the BRCD.
Finance and Resources
4.16

Develop, roll out and deliver new physical programme, £8m Neighbourhood Regeneration Fund, through an open call process. The fund will focus on key thematic areas and reflect the priorities agreed within the City Recovery Framework:

  • environmental and sustainable projects
  • neighbourhood tourism and
  • social enterprise
2021-2024
  • Number of projects completed, number of consultation exercises encompassing Section 75 groups
Physical Programmes
4.17

Delivery of Physical Programme including £180m Capital Programme for council assets. Management, development and delivery of externally-funded programmes such as the Executive Office’s flagship good relations programme Urban Villages, approximately £46million.

2021-2024
  • Number of projects completed, number of consultation exercises encompassing Section 75 groups
Physical Programmes
4.18 Deliver Pandemic Recovery Plan  2021-2023
  • Developed understanding of impact of COVID-19 on existing inequalities
Cross-departmental

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5. Our organisational priorities

As our city becomes more ambitious, so must we.

To do this, we can only succeed with the wholehearted support and enthusiastic contribution of our staff. To harness this energy, they need to feel valued and understand how they contribute. As an organisation, if we want to perform these capabilities to the best of our abilities, we must continuously look to improve how we do things. We have therefore agreed priorities that will help us improve our capability. For example, to provide the best customer experience possible, we have developed a customer focus programme that will enhance the experience felt by all our customers. Table 5 shows our organisational priorities.

Table 5 Organisational priorities
Reference number Action Timescale Performance indicator Departmental responsibility
5.1 Ensure that the council communicates effectively with citizens, using assistive technology and maintaining standards such as plain English and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines AA standards  2021-2024
  • Website to provide assistive technology and follow new and current plain English and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines AA Standards. 
Cross-departmental
5.2

Develop a new customer hub designed around customer needs

2021-2024
  • New professional customer hub designed and implemented.
  • Customer satisfaction with the hub service.
Finance and Resources
5.3 Ensure that digital platforms benefit all customers and stakeholders, including training and provision of computer facilities for public use 2021-2024
  • Customers will have access to a point-of- service supported online resource within the hub and community centres.
  • Number of customers moving to digital channels
Finance and Resources
5.4 Improve engagement with customers across all Section 75 categories 2021-2024
  • Percentage of issues understood impacting on different groups of people leading to a better informed decision-making process and improved customer service.  
Cross-departmental
5.5 Provide accessible channels of communication to reflect diverse customers’ needs 2021-2024
  • Greater opportunities for two-way communication using customer feedback tools and measures
  • An accessible online service
  • Translated documents of interest available on request
Cross-departmental
5.6 Deliver Disability Action Plan 2019-2022 updating actions and developing a new action plan utilising key learning in relation to 'Encouraging the participation of disabled people in public life' and 'Promoting positive attitudes towards Disabled People'.  2021-2022
  • Analyse feedback and develop an action plan to improve disability initiatives, where appropriate.
Legal and Civic Services
5.7 Develop and deliver Gender, Disability, LGBTQ Plus and Minority and Inclusion workforce diversity action plans 2021-2024
  • Activity in plans agreed, resourced and delivered.
City and Organisational Strategy
5.8 Improve participation in employment among those furthest from the labour market through ring-fenced entry-level posts (where possible), pre-recruitment training programmes, work experience, guaranteed interview scheme and reasonable adjustments  2021-2024
  • Job opportunities ringfenced to the long term unemployed and targeted pre-recruitment and training.
City and Organisational Strategy
5.9 Encourage participation of disabled people in the workforce, Sign Language Users' Forum and Disability Staff Network (DA). 2021-2024
  • Three disability staff network meetings held each year.
City and Organisational Strategy
5.10 Encourage participation of LGBTQ Plus people in the workforce and LGBTQ Plus staff network 'Proud'   2021-2024
  • Improved promotion of our commitment to equality and diversity both internally and externally. 
Cross-departmental
5.11 Encourage participation of all staff in the workplace 2021-2024
  • Hold event or workshop for both male and female staff to: explore and discuss diversity and gender issues and identify any areas or issues to be addressed.
Cross-departmental
5.12 Review and amend workforce monitoring form  2021-2024 Monitoring form reviewed and revised to capture additional information including:
  • reasonable adjustments required by applicants as part of the recruitment and selection process
  • gender identity
  • sexual orientation 
City and Organisational Strategy
5.13 Carry out a voluntary monitoring exercise for all staff  2021-2024
  • Voluntary monitoring exercise conducted and up- to-date information available.
City and Organisational Strategy
5.14 Work to achieve Silver Diversity Charter Mark Award  2021-2024
  • Silver Diversity Charter Mark achieved 
City and Organisational Strategy
5.15 Develop opportunities for Equality and Diversity Champions both at SMT and elected member level 2021-2024
  • Equality and Diversity Champions appointed
 
5.16 Continue to deliver a suite of equality and diversity-awareness training to all staff including diversity, general disability awareness, targeted  disability-awareness, bi and trans-awareness training (classroom-based and online) 2021-2024

Number of sessions delivered

Training evaluation indicators:

  • quality of training
  • increased understanding
  • increase in skills levels 
City and Organisational Strategy
5.17 Strategic leaders and elected members attend leadership equality training  2021-2024

Number of sessions delivered

Training evaluation indicators:

  • quality of training
  • increased understanding
  • increase in skills levels 
Cross-departmental
5.18 Review participation in the council’s new engagement framework to identify participation gaps or areas for improvement  2021
  • Participation rates by gender, age, disability, race and community background. (Registrations on new platform)
  • Assess seldom heard or other Section 75 participation rates as applicable.

Consultation and engagement give all people equal opportunity to participate.   

City and Organisational Strategy
5.19

Research best practice and assess council’s engagement and participation of young people.

Develop best practice guidance for council officers.

2021
  • Production of guidance and case studies
  • Evidence of improved or innovative approaches to engaging young people. 
  • Percentage of young people who agree that council consults with and listens to the views of local residents (survey in 2021 and 2023)

City and Organisational Strategy

5.20 Support platforms, networks and forums, such as the Older People’s Forum, Disability Advisory Panel and Migrant Workers’ Forum, that widen engagement, targeting people most at risk of being “seldom heard” 2021-2024
  • Percentage attendance at each meeting from cross section of organisations and individuals.
  • Percentage of staff and members who understand purpose of these networks and forums and find this useful.
  • Effective feedback mechanism established and used by members  
Cross-departmental
5.21 Use our engagement platform to encourage and build capacity within communities to engage with council using dialogue and qualitative mechanisms   2021-2023
  • Number of standing panels. 
  • Number of project specific panels and forums. 
  • Number and type of panels involving targeted Section 75 or seldom-heard groups (per year)
Cross-departmental
5.22 Deliver Equality Scheme Implementation Plan 2021-2024
  • Annual compliance report to Equality and Diversity Network Strategic (EDNS)
  • Number of complaints
Legal and Civic Services
5.23 Deliver Rural Needs Action Plan  2021-2024

Annual compliance report to EDNS

Number of complaints

Legal and Civic Services
5.24 Effective leadership in Section 75 demonstrated through the Equality and Diversity Network  2021-2024
  • At least three meetings of both operational and strategic levels of the Equality and Diversity Network. 
  • Completed audit of Section 75 processes.
Legal and Civic Services
5.25

Explore development of baseline of equality-related information for use by staff in all aspects of the council business

2022-2024
  • Information of relevant equality data communicated to all staff and available to all staff.
  • Access to equality data sets.
Cross-departmental
5.26 Deliver Language Strategy 2019-2023 and related action plans 2021-2023
  • Analyse feedback and develop action plans as appropriate.
Legal and Civic Services

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