The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been told by the government to slash its spending this year by nearly 12 per cent.
The government has ordered the EHRC to find £7 million in savings from this year’s £60 million budget, as part of efforts to reduce the public sector deficit.
The equality and human rights watchdog said it was reviewing its business plan and had implemented an immediate freeze on marketing, advertising and consultancy, and was aiming to cut the number of temporary staff.
Most recruitment has been frozen, although its search for a new chief executive will continue as planned and there could still be recruitment in “frontline and business-critical areas”.
An EHRC spokesman said its priorities would remain providing advice to individuals and organisations, taking “strategic” legal cases and enforcing equality law.
He said: “The overall message is we will continue to ensure the most vulnerable people do not suffer unfairly as the country grapples with the current economic climate.”
But he added: “It is going to be tough. We need to ensure it doesn’t hit us too much.
“We had obviously been anticipating, like all other public bodies, that there would be cuts in the budget, whoever won the election.
“Since the beginning of the year we had been going through a process of looking at the structure of the commission as we come up to our third anniversary.”
He said this “strategic review” would ensure the EHRC delivers “the best value for money”, with results expected this autumn.
He also stressed that more than £14 million in grants awarded last November to community and voluntary organisations – including several disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) – would be paid as planned as part of its strategic funding and legal grants programme, and added: “They will not be cut.”
And he said the cuts would also not impact on the scope of its major inquiry into disability-related harassment, although it could be forced to review its spending on marketing and advertising in connection with the inquiry.
News provided by John Pring