EHRC to be ‘substantially reformed’ while HIV quangos are scrapped

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to be substantially reformed, the Cabinet Office said today.

Today’s shake-up of public bodies saw 192 quangos axed, with an estimated 10,000 staff expected to lose their jobs.

The EHRC, which was criticised last year for how it was set up, escaped the cull but is set for significant changes.

Both the Expert Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS and the Independent Advisory Group of Sexual Health and HIV have been scrapped.

The former will be reformed as a Department of Health expert committee, while the latter will be replaced with a “stakeholder advisory group”.

As yet, few details about the changes have been revealed and the government is considering how the EHRC, and other surviving public bodies, will be reformed.

In March, a Commons report said there was evidence of “unacceptable” spending at the EHRC and the National Audit Office refused to approve its accounts for the second year running.

An EHRC spokeswoman said that the situation was currently “largely speculative” and any proposed changes would be subject to wider consultation.

She said she could not say how many jobs the commission will lose but that redundancies are “possible”.

The government is understood to be keen to “streamline” the commission and part of its work may be incorporated into the Government Equalities Office.

A Government Equalities Office spokesman said the commission’s work was currently being assessed with decisions to be made later in the year.

Last year, the EHRC was hit by the resignation of four of its commissioners. Some of those who quit criticised chief executive Trevor Phillips’ leadership.

The body was set up from the ashes of the Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission in 2006.

Its remit is to advocate for human rights and enforce equality legislation.