“All of Us” in Bracknell Forest



Equalities Monitoring Annual Report






A group of diverse people smiling













Published: February 2022






1        Introduction. 1

2        Bracknell Forest Council Equality Scheme 2017-21. 2

3        Equality Highlights 2020-21. 3

3.1      Access to our information, services and facilities is fair and equitable for everyone  3

3.2      High levels of community cohesion are maintained. 4

3.3      Gaps in outcomes for citizens are narrowed. 4

3.4      A positive, diverse and inclusive workforce is ensured and promoted. 5

4        Equality Issues. 5

5        Conclusion. 6



Appendices: Service Level Reports


  1. Adult Social Care Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Children’s Social Care Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Community Safety Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Customer Services Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Early Help Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Education Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Housing Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Leisure Services Equality Monitoring Report


  1. Library Services Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Public Health Equalities Monitoring Report


  1. Welfare Equalities Monitoring Report


Full reports on each of these services are also available using the following link:

1      Introduction

Bracknell Forest is the borough of opportunity and a place where diversity and cultural heritage are recognised as a strength. The council is committed to ensuring that no one is left behind, isolated or disadvantaged and to ensuring that Bracknell Forest is a borough of opportunity for everyone. The council will continue to work with and encourage vibrant local communities.  We will work closely with partners to support and engage our different communities and organisations to ensure everyone feels included, connected and able to contribute.


The aim of equalities monitoring is to indicate the extent to which the council provides a fair, accessible and appropriate service to all residents.


The Equality Act 2010’s Public Sector Equality Duty outlines the specific duties that the council is required to meet to demonstrate its compliance with its equality duties. The council must publish equality information annually and publish equality objectives every four years. 


The Equality Act 2010 places a legal duty on Bracknell Forest Council to have due regard in all its activities to:



The duty applies across the nine ‘protected characteristics’ covered by the Act - with regard to marriage and civil partnerships, the council is only required to ensure it eliminates discrimination, harassment and victimisation on these grounds.  The council also considers how its services and policies may impact on other groups including for example people with caring responsibilities, people facing financial hardship and the military community.


Image result for protected characteristics



2      Bracknell Forest Council Equality Scheme 2017-21

The Bracknell Forest Equality Scheme 2017-21 set out what the council intended to achieve in terms of advancing equality and diversity and includes the council’s equality objectives.  The equality scheme is linked to the service planning process to ensure that the implementation of the equality objectives will be integrated, wherever possible into the mainstream delivery and monitoring of services across the council. 


Bracknell Forest is a thriving, welcoming and inclusive community. As our community grows and changes, Bracknell Forest Council is committed to ensuring no one is left behind, isolated or disadvantaged.  We take great pride in our support for vulnerable groups and individuals: we want to make sure Bracknell Forest is a borough of opportunity for everyone.


At Bracknell Forest Council, we believe:


This report and the individual service reports should be read alongside the Equalities Monitoring - Workforce Annual Report 2020-21 which summarises the council’s employment information.


To assess whether Bracknell Forest Council’s services have met the legal duty to have due regard to the specific duties, information on access, outcomes/ performance and satisfaction has been analysed for these service areas.


COVID-19 Pandemic


Understandably the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns affected the majority of council services during the reporting period of April 2020 – March 2021. 


Many were closed for various periods during this time including leisure services and libraries.  The council has to explore different ways of providing services as council offices and some face-to-face services were closed or extremely difficult to deliver.   The continued effects of the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions has meant some ongoing work has had to be to be delayed due to operational pressures on service areas and the diversion of resources to our Covid community response. 


Data has shown COVID-19 has exacerbated health inequalities and the council’s Public Health team have worked with partners to ensure their response has considered a targeted approach.  To minimise the impact of the pandemic, the focus has been on testing to find positive cases of COVID-19, contact tracing to identify close contacts of positive cases and vaccinating eligible cohorts for COVID-19.


In Education and Learning the focus was on supporting schools with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the periods of partial school closure, remote education provision and full return to school for all pupils.  There was a particular focus on provision to support vulnerable children and young people.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic statutory assessments across the primary phase and the summer 2020 GCSE, AS and A Level exam series were cancelled in summer 2020, with the DfE confirming that there would be no publication of any performance data at national, regional, or local level at any phase of education.


During the pandemic, the focus of the Library Service shifted, delivering a digital service in the form of e-books, e-magazines and newspapers and a programme of virtual events via Zoom, in addition to supporting residents over the age of seventy by providing free deliveries of books and audio-visual materials through the Home Library Service, or to anyone who was shielding.


Funding was also received from the Arts Council and the Reading Agency from January to March 2021 as part of a “Reading Friends” campaign which enabled Bracknell Forest Libraries to offer a programme of virtual events via Zoom to combat loneliness and social isolation for all sectors of the community. In total, 70 virtual events were held from January to March as part of this project.


3      Equality highlights 2020-21


The following are examples of work done in 2020-21 to meet the objectives of the scheme and refer to the scheme’s key objectives. 

3.1     Access to our information, services and facilities is fair and equitable for everyone


Children’s Social Care (CSC) have increased opportunities for learning and development for the whole workforce to both deepen the understanding of different cultures and develop skills in building meaningful relationships with people from various cultural backgrounds and identities. In addition CSC developed and launched its Equality and Diversity Protocol in November 2020. The protocol recognises CSC’s responsibilities and duties set out under the Equality Act 2010 and sets out expectations of employees to strive for inclusiveness.


The development of the CSC Equality and Diversity protocol ensures that there is a commitment from the whole service to protecting people’s human rights, and to treat everyone fairly and with respect and dignity. With this, a programme of training to improve awareness and understanding of diverse backgrounds has successfully enabled staff to embed the ‘identity first’ approach, which will be supported by future developments of our recording tools and templates


Providing the right early help and the right time is far more effective in promoting the welfare of children and keeping them safe than reacting later when problems may have become more entrenched.  Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)[1] sets out a clear expectation that local agencies collaborate to identify children and young people with additional needs and work together to ensure support as soon as a problem emerges.


3.2     High levels of community cohesion are maintained


The council’s Community Cohesion and Engagement Partnership continues to meet regularly and monitor Hate Crime and Prevent referrals.  The Community Safety report details all the work being done in this area including around Domestic Abuse, Modern Slavey and Exploitation and Anti-Social Behaviour and current issues around equality of access. 


The Domestic Abuse Forum has representation from Army Welfare and survivor(s) of domestic abuse as well as all relevant service areas.  Membership of both the Domestic Abuse Forum and the DA Executive Group are reviewed annually with gaps in membership identified and addressed as necessary.  As part of the safe accommodation needs assessment, some additional members of the Forum have been identified and invited to future meetings, e.g. Support U – an LGBT+ organisation providing help and support across the Thames Valley.


Bracknell Forest Council were part of a two-year Thames Valley BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) project 2018-20.  The project was funded by the Home Office VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) Transformation Fund and supported by the local authorities across the Thames Valley and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).  The project set out to identify barriers experienced by women from ethnic minority communities subjected to abuse or violence when needing to access support, and to identify lessons for improving service responses.  The evaluation report has been shared with the Bracknell Forest Domestic Abuse Executive Group, Community Safety Partnership, Safeguarding Partnership and Community Cohesion and Engagement Partnership. A Thames Valley-wide BAME Community Partnership Board has been formed to continue the momentum of the BAMER project work and in July 2021 a Berks wide group (including North East Hants and Surrey Heath) was formed to drive forward local delivery of the recommendations from the report. 


3.3     Gaps in outcomes for citizens are narrowed


We aim to support the most vulnerable people in the borough through prevention and self-care which is tailored to different segments of the local community and their needs. 


The Office for National Statistics (2021) states that in 2020 around half of disabled people aged 16 to 64 years (52.1%) in the UK were in employment compared with around 8 in 10 (81.3%) for non-disabled people (July to September 2020); disabled people with autism were among those disabled people with the lowest employment rate.


To support the employment needs of individuals with a learning disability and autism Bracknell Forest Council run a supported employment service called Breakthrough who provide advice and support to people in all aspects of looking for and sustaining meaningful employment opportunities.  Breakthrough services have supported over 80 vulnerable people with various levels of support. 


There is a lack of specialist accommodation for individuals with a learning disability and autism.  The Learning Disability team have formed strong relationships with local housing providers and also work very closely with the council housing team to source specialist housing. This includes support with emergency placements and the sourcing of long term adapted accommodation. This secures accommodation for individuals with complex needs and reduces the need to place individuals out of borough. Individuals with complex needs have been placed into adapted accommodation in the last year despite the covid restrictions, this has however impacted waiting times for families.   In terms of our current placements in accommodation, compared to our neighbouring councils, BFC has got the lowest number of people with Learning Disabilities and Autism in residential care homes, over 90% of our placements are in supported living accommodation which is a true success of promotion of choice, community integration and independence.


In Early Years during the reporting period the work of the service has focused on support for early years providers, children and families and the impact of COVID-19.  Due to suspension of face to face services, some children (and their families) at risk of communication and language delay were supported virtually, this enabled progress to be monitored and tracked.   Early Years providers offered support to those families unable to access services including a variety of home learning opportunities were delivered including resources delivered to family homes to enable children and families to engage in learning activities


The Family Information and Early Years teams sourced and secured alternative childcare for critical worker families where their usual arrangements were not able to meet need. There was also partnership working with Children’s Social Care (CSC) to encourage vulnerable children to access their entitlement and consideration to other sources of support as required. Support was also sourced for families known to CSC who required support within the home during this time.


3.4     A positive, diverse and inclusive workforce is ensured and promoted


We are committed to having workforce policies and practices that promote an inclusive culture and ensure that we do not discriminate. We provide equal opportunities for employees to progress and develop and are responsive to the needs of the workforce. We also ensure our workforce understands and supports our equality commitments.  


The council’s Equality Group has recently been strengthened to ensure it is representative of different areas across the council.  An Elected Members equality group was also set up with representatives of all political parties. 



4      Equality Issues


Although this report relates to April 2020 – March 2021 it is important to note the many issues around equality that have been highlighted as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic from March 2020.   Many existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic which has disproportionally affected certain groups including those from ethnic minority backgrounds and more vulnerable residents. 


Following two reports published in June by Public Health England; a report on COVID-19 inequalities in relation to the BAME community was submitted to the Corporate Management Team in September.  An action plan has now been put into place to respond to the findings of the report. 


The council undertook a second detailed phone survey in April 2021 to determine the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on residents, their family and the local community. The responses highlight the negative impact of the pandemic on more vulnerable residents.  Certain population groups including those living in social housing, disabled, older residents, those living in social housing and more deprived areas of the borough have been more adversely impacted  and may require more support than others to recover from the experience of the pandemic.    


There were also questions regarding future recovery of the borough and the council’s priorities to help the borough recover. The results showed residents want the council to support the local economy to recover, while supporting vulnerable people to recover, keeping residents safe and promoting and enforcing public health messages and guidelines.  Supporting more vulnerable residents to recover reflects the work being done as part of the council’s community response to the pandemic.  The confidential responses will continue to be used to help us plan for the borough’s renewal from COVID-19 over the next 3 years. 


The council as a part of its recovery planning is exploring how it can continue to support residents and the local economy recover from Covid.

5      Conclusion



Bracknell Forest Council is committed to providing excellent customer service and to

providing fair and appropriate access to services that are tailored to meet the individual needs of the residents and diverse communities living in Bracknell Forest.


This report and the associated service area reports show that Bracknell Forest Council made good progress in meeting the three Public Sector duties in the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate discrimination, victimisation and harassment, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people in 2020-21.


During 2021 the council has developed a new equality scheme from 2022-25.  Bracknell Forest Council’s Equality Scheme 2022-2025 builds on the good progress made over the previous years and further embeds equality, diversity and inclusion in everything we do to make Bracknell Forest the Borough of Opportunity for all.


As a council we aim to provide high quality, appropriate and accessible services that meet the needs of our diverse communities.  We want to ensure consistency in the delivery of our equality, inclusion, and diversity work across the council. It is cross directorate and part of everyday business and it is the duty of all of us to understand, respect and value difference.


We will continue to take equalities into account when making decisions to ensure they are made in a fair, transparent and accountable way which considers the needs and rights of different individuals and communities.


In developing the equalities objectives in this scheme, we held workshops and discussions with community and voluntary groups, partner organisations as well as elected members and staff.  This was followed by an online consultation open to all residents, staff and elected members. 


The Equality Scheme sets out our five key equality objectives toaddress inequalities in our role as community leader and an employer.  These apply to all the council’s functions, the council’s role as a service provider and in our work with our communities.  The full equality scheme will be published in April 2022. 




6      Council Performance Indicators Relating to Equalities  

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[1] Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) Department for Education