The Equality and Human Rights Commission (P-001079)

  • 1.	We have carefully considered Ms U’s complaint about the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). We have seen no indication that anything went seriously wrong.
    
    2.	Ms U complained that EHRC failed to provide her with legal support to recover a property that she had been evicted from. We have found no indications of maladministration in the reasons EHRC provided to Ms U to explain why they were unable to provide her with the legal support she had requested. Ms U also complained that EHRC failed to consider a complaint she made about advice she had received from the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS). Again, we found no indications in the response EHRC provided to Ms U.
    
  • 3.	Ms U complained that EHRC failed to provide her with advice and legal support to recover a property she had been evicted from. She said EHRC failed to investigate her complaint that the eviction breached her human rights. Ms U further complained that EHRC did not investigate a complaint she made to them about advice she had received from EASS. Ms U said EHRC’s failure to help caused her additional stress and upset. Ms U wanted EHRC to address her concerns and use their legal powers to have her home returned to her.
  • 4.	In October 2018 Ms U was evicted from her home, on the order of the court, following divorce proceedings.
    
    5.	In August 2020 Ms U contacted EHRC. She said the eviction had been a breach of her human rights and the court had acted unlawfully. Ms U asked EHRC to consider her complaint about the eviction and provider her with legal support to try to have her home returned to her. Ms U also complained to EHRC that EASS had provided her with incorrect advice about the options open to her. EHRC replied on 10 August. They said they could not provide individuals with the support that Ms U was seeking unless those concerns were put to them via EASS. EHRC told Ms U to contact EASS and outlined the advice and support EASS might be able to offer. EHRC explained that if EASS considered her complaint met their criteria of raising strategic concerns, EASS could refer the complaint to EHRC on her behalf. EHRC also said they could not consider Ms U’s complaint about advice she had received from EASS previously as they were a separate organisation. EHRC provided a link to EASS’ complaints process.
    
  • 6.	We have considered the evidence provided by Ms U on her complaint form. We have also considered the emails Ms U sent to EHRC and their responses. 
    
    
    7.	We use relevant law, policy, guidance and standards to inform our thinking. This allows us to consider what should have happened. In this case we have referred to the information contained on EHRC’s website. We have also considered EASS’ complaints process, which is available on their website.
    
  • Failure to provide assistance
    
    8.	Before we decide if we should investigate a complaint, we look at whether there are signs the organisation has got something wrong. We do this by comparing what should have happened with what did happen. Having done so, we have not found any indications that something has gone wrong. 
    
    9.       On their website EHRC say individuals looking for expert information, advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues and the applicable law should contact EASS. They explain that EASS are a government-funded helpline which is independent of EHRC. The website says EASS work with EHRC by referring those cases it thinks might be strategic and meet the threshold for EHRC’s action or intervention.
    
    10.      When Ms U asked RHRC to consider her complaint and provide her with legal assistance, EHRC said she would first need to go through EASS. They said there were a number of ways in which EASS might be able to help Ms U. They also said that if EASS felt Ms U’s complaint raised strategic concerns which might meet EHRC’s criteria, they could refer her concerns to EHRC to take forward. EHRC’s response to Ms U is supported by the approach set out on their website and so we have not identified any indication of failings.
    
    Failure to consider complaint about EASS advice
    
    11.       Ms U also complained to EHRC about advice she had received from EASS previously. EHRC responded promptly and said they could not consider complaints about EASS as they were a separate organisation. They provided a link to EASS’ complaint process. EASS provide details of their complaints process on their website. That says that there is a two stage internal complaints process, where concerns are considered by different people within EASS. The third stage is external, where complaints are considered by the Government Equalities Service.  The EASS website sets out their complaints process and there is nothing to indicate that complaints about them can be made to EHRC. Taking that evidence into account, we consider that the response EHRC provided was an appropriate one and have not identified any indications of failings.
    
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