Choice and control ‘fault lines’ are ‘true measure of inequality’


Serious “fault lines” are emerging in society between how disabled and non-disabled people are able to enjoy choice and control in their lives, a major report by the equality watchdog will reveal next week.

The report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is set to show that inequalities in choice and control are “major issues”, particularly for disabled and older people.

Trevor Phillips, the EHRC’s chair, said the commission’s triennial review – which will be “the most complete map” yet of “non-economic inequalities” – would show why inequalities in “autonomy and choice” were “so important”.

The review, How Fair is Britain?, will be the first major study to bring together all the available evidence in this area, and the EHRC says it will “provide a unique insight into the current state of equality in Britain”.

The commission is required by law to report to parliament every three years on “how far Britain has come towards being a fair society – and how far we still have to go”.

Phillips told a fringe event at the Conservative conference in Birmingham that the “great object of policy must be to close the gaps in autonomy and choice”, which was “a difficult challenge”.

Phillips said he believed there should be “much more” measurement of the extent to which people have “control of how they live their lives” and “the feeling that I today have chosen what I could do”.

He added: “That is much more important than some of the ways we have measured equality so far.”

He said the EHRC’s first attempts at measuring inequality in choice and control were “inadequate” but better than anyone else has managed to date.

He said: “It is absolutely clear that this is a major issue for so many people in our society. I do think it is an area where we really have to apply our minds.”

5 October 2010