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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Taxpayers’ Alliance Calls for EHCR Race Gestapo to be Scrapped

Taxpayers’ Alliance Calls for Race Gestapo to be Scrapped

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has joined the growing list of socially responsible organisations which have called for the disbandment of the £70 million per year Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
In a demining letter sent to Tory Equalities Minister Theresa May, the Taxpayers’ Alliance said that the “EHRC’s targets are arbitrary and unreasonable, driven by a peculiarly activist equality agenda that itself threatens to undermine the important gains made by women and minority groups over recent decades.
“The insistence that the organisation knows what is appropriate for every employer in the country is misguided and obstructive to businesses still struggling following the recession,” the letter continued.
“The [EHRC] has proved unable to manage its finances responsibly. The Comptroller and Auditor General at the National Audit Office (NAO) reported this year that there were a number of irregularities in their accounts.
“The Commission paid well over £300,000 to re-engage staff from the former Commission for Racial Equality as consultants without the authority of the Government Equalities Office or the Treasury,” the letter said.
“They also breached agreed remits for pay increases, of 4.65 per cent for the last six months of 2007-08 and 4.45 per cent for 2008-09, with average increases of 6.81 per cent for the last six months of 2007-08 and 4.8 per cent for the twelve month period of 2008-09.
“That breach was equivalent to £508,000. This fits with a general pattern of generous rewards for staff. Trevor Phillips, Chair, received a salary of £112,000 in 2008-09 and perks like an official car and driver.
“Dr. Nicola Brewer, former Chief Executive, received a salary of £185,000 in 2008-09.
“The NAO concluded that ‘the Commission was not able to obtain any assurances over how [the] recipients had used some £62,800 of grants.’ In addition to that, the EHRC found they had spent £739,421 on seven contracts for more than £50,000 without the authorisation it is required to obtain from your office,” the Taxpayer Alliance letter told Ms May.
“That was just from a sample – the NAO note that the EHRC ‘cannot be certain’ that ‘represents all the breaches.’ The NAO also found further weaknesses in how the EHRC managed procurement expenditure,” the letter continued.
“They said that ‘the scale of these systemic weaknesses reflects a culture of inadequate forward planning in the Commission, a lack of focus on compliance with procedures and insufficient review and oversight of expenditure by the senior management of the organisation.’ They think that a ‘number of the weaknesses outlined above are deep seated and longstanding.”
The Taxpayers’ Alliance letter also stated what every British National Party supporter knows well, namely that the EHRC is not an equalities organisation but actually just a political front.
“The EHRC also engages in political campaigns at taxpayers’ expense. For example, their ‘human rights strategy and programme of action’ for 2009-12 set out ‘no regression in law from the levels of human rights protection and mechanisms for enforcement under the Human Rights Act and other ratified human rights treaties’ as something they aim to achieve,” the letter said.
“That is a political objective, and while the public may want some law to deal with human rights, research suggests a majority think that ‘too many people take advantage of the Human Rights Act.’ It is clearly inappropriate for those people to see their money spent supporting a cause they do not believe in.
“With so much inappropriate spending the EHRC is ripe for abolition. Genuine discrimination should be tackled by the courts. The saving would be a valuable contribution to the reductions in spending the Government need to make to deliver on their pledge of greater fiscal responsibility,” the Taxpayers’ Alliance letter, signed by Directors Matthew Sinclair and Douglas Murray concluded.