Wealden District Council
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Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion framework for Wealden District Council 2024-2028

Wealden District Council’s mission is to be an enabling and enterprising council working alongside our communities to create a greener, fairer and kinder district for present and future generations. This can only be achieved if the council is truly guided by considerations of equity and inclusion. Tackling inequality and encouraging diverse contributions are essential to our aims. We commit to being honest and open with staff and residents about our intentions and how we will take responsibility for achieving them. The Chief Executive and Executive Directors will be proactive and directly involved in driving this agenda, through championing EDI across all council services and supporting staff to have frank, open conversations about EDI, both to discuss where things are going well and where things still need to change.  

This document is a developing roadmap setting out Wealden District Council’s proposed approach to improving equality, diversity and inclusion over the four-year period (2024–2028). It has been considered by our full senior leadership team, our internal and external equalities groups and our staff consultative group prior to publication. The Council has committed to continue to work with our community equalities reference group to build the outline action plan into a measurable and deliverable set of activities that will make a meaningful and concrete difference to our communities – both communities of place, and communities of interest. As such this document is considered to be a living document, which will evolve, develop and improve as we work through the plans and ideas contained within it.

It is based on the Local Government Association (LGA) Equality Framework for Local Government 2021 (EFLG) and outlines how the council plans to achieve in each of its four modules with a longer-term aim of excellence in each area.


Our vision for Wealden is that it is a place where people and nature thrive together. What matters to us is that local people can live healthy and happy lives whatever their background or life situation, and that the places where they live, and work can thrive.                   

Well-being is much more than simply physical health. It is vital that we can foster social connections and community cohesion through cultural and social events to enhance our mental health. We also need to ensure communities have the resilience they need to deal with the rigours of everyday life.

It is our priority to support people to lead healthier and happier lives, tackle racism and inequality, put people at the heart of decision making, enable residents to live in an accessible and inclusive community and ensure our vibrant local communities continue to grow.

We have made progress on our EDI work, but we have further to go until it is fully embedded in all that we do. We are clear about our responsibility to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion in everything we do as a council and as an employer. We are ambitious about what we can achieve to promote best practice in equality, collaborating with our partners and the wider sector. It is our intention to embed equality, diversity, and inclusion as a priority across the Council and the District with targeted support for those who experience the most disadvantage in our communities.

We are building a new, comprehensive EDI plan which goes to the heart of our work in creating a truly inclusive place for everyone who calls Wealden home. This plan is about transparent and accountable action not just words and will continue to evolve and develop as we learn and understand more about what matters to our communities and how we can serve their diverse needs.

This is not just the right thing to do. It is essential to our customer standards and our ability to serve our communities effectively.

Thank you to everyone who helped to shape this framework and I look forward to working with everyone across our District to address inequality, promote equality and deliver a greener, kinder, fairer future for everyone in Wealden.


Trevor Scott | Chief Executive

Greg Collins | Green Party Councillor and Lead Member for Finance and HR



This plan has been developed in discussion with partners, staff, and stakeholders to understand their experiences and issues.

We want to be a place where everyone has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential.

We recognise that embracing EDI is not limited to one dimension of a person’s identity in how we experience community. Inclusivity recognises us as whole human beings and we will work towards setting the right conditions with fairness and kindness for that to flourish.

The overall aim of this plan is to ensure the successful mainstreaming of equalities into the everyday practices and functions of Council-related operations. Through the plan, we will pursue an agenda of organisational learning. Leadership co-ordination and monitoring of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion objectives and actions is required at Council wide and departmental levels to enable explicit progress, accessibility, accountability and communication to communities and staff.

The Public Sector Equality Duty requires us to publish one or more specific and measurable equality objectives every four years that demonstrate areas where we are tackling inequality and promoting equality.


The Equality Act 2010 introduced the term “protected characteristics” to refer to groups that are protected under the Act. Protected characteristics are legally defined as:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marriage/Civil Partnership
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Religion or Belief
  • Maternity & Paternity

The Public Sector Equality Duty

The Public Sector Equality Duty (created under the Equality Act 2010) came into force on 5 April 2011 and requires public bodies and others conducting public functions to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, to advance equality of opportunities and foster good relations between different communities. Compliance with the equality duty enables us to provide services to meet the diverse needs of our users and improve how we conduct our core business.

Gender pay gap

Legislation came into effect in 2017 requiring employers to publish figures on gender pay gap. We use our data on a yearly basis to continually review all areas of the organisation to identify the barriers (and the drivers) for appointing and developing women, particularly at senior levels.

Modern day slavery act

Legislation requires us to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement each financial year, publish it on our website, and tackle slavery wherever we find it. We recognise that we have a responsibility to ensure that our services and supply chains understand the issue and can transparently demonstrate ways that they protect against modern-day slavery.

The Local Government Association (LGA) Equalities Framework

We aspire to be a leader of EDI practices amongst district councils, being known for going above and beyond the minimum baseline of equality laws in everything we do and being able to demonstrate clear evidence in delivery in the Local Government Association (LGA) Equalities Framework.

  • Collecting and sharing information
  • Analysing and using data
  • Effective community engagement
  • Fostering good community relations
  • Participation in public life
  • Political and officer leadership
  • Priorities and working in partnership
  • Using equality impact assessment
  • Performance monitoring and scrutiny
  • Commissioning and procuring services
  • Integration of equality objectives into planned service outcomes
  • Service design and delivery
  • Workforce diversity and inclusion
  • Inclusive strategies and policies
  • Collecting, analysing and publishing workforce data
  • Learning, development and progression
  • Health and wellbeing

Our priorities within the framework

Understanding and working with our communities


Our Communications and Engagement Strategy outlines some of the key approaches we will use to improve our understanding of and engagement with our communities.

A focus on equality, diversity and inclusion is central to our community relationships. It is vital to understand that protected groups may have differing needs and what we can do to meet those, to prevent unconscious discrimination and unfairness. We have established a community equalities reference groups which meets on a regular basis with senior representatives from the council and representatives from community groups, partners and stakeholders working with our most vulnerable residents and those with protected characteristics. This is a forum to discuss opportunities and raise issues of concern and to work in partnership on these matters.


the voice of all communities should be heard and taken into account when decisions are being made

residents should be able to access services on an equal footing

the needs of people with protected characteristics are considered when making changes to policies or services, taking positive action to ensure equality of opportunity and fairness for all

enhanced wellbeing for all, more sustainable services and better quality of life should be provided through building more opportunities for our residents to have more say over where they live and the services we provide


As part of our work in this area, we will:

  • Review how we communicate, consult and engage with communities adapting for different localities, diversities, interests and needs. Report back to communities on outcomes as well as listening to needs, vulnerabilities and aspirations.
  • Facilitate events that promote understanding and help bring communities together, using our partnerships and our elected members to support and promote these activities.
  • Work with stakeholders and partners to support access to core service provision for our most vulnerable residents. Continue to work with our community equalities reference group to understand how we can better ensure access for all.
  • Develop work under our people strategy to offer development opportunities for children and young people, through the council’s early careers and apprenticeship plan.

Leadership and organisational commitment


The council has a key role to play in demonstrating leadership in the city on equality, diversity, and inclusion. As an organisation, we are responsible for providing investment and services that tackle inequalities; our councillors are elected to represent our communities and give them a voice in creating a more equal district.

The Council’s Strategy for 2023 – 2027 outlines some of the ways we will use our investment and economic influence to create a more inclusive economy, to tackle inequality and increase the opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

As well as working to tackle barriers to equality, we will continue to work with Sussex Police and other partners from the Safer Wealden Partnership to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and hate crime and to take legal action against individuals for these offences.

We encourage our suppliers to show they operate to the highest standards of equality and inclusion, as well as tackling Modern Slavery and require demonstration of compliance with legal obligations under the Equalities Act 2010. 


Challenging discrimination

  • using our voice, our services and our influence to challenge prejudice and discrimination

Improving service design

  • building in a strong equality, diversity and inclusion processes at the onset of policy and service design so that we meet the needs of all residents


We will show leadership in how we listen and communicate about diversity, as well as by the actions we take.

  • We will further encourage our suppliers to consider opportunities for additional positive impacts on the community.
  • We will seek to ensure that we cut carbon emissions in a way that does not disadvantage low-income households or sacrifice residents’ standard of living.
  • We will maintain a strong EFIA process, actively supported by senior management, to make sure EDI issues are always considered at the earliest stage when we change or innovate in what we do.
  • We will set an example of high standards of inclusive design and planning for public spaces, community buildings and social housing.

Responsive Services and Customer Care


The needs of residents are at the heart of everything the council does, we have set out an ambition to build a place that is greener, fairer, and kinder for everyone. We are committed to the highest standards of customer care, and our People Strategy outlines the standards and values we expect our workforce to uphold for each other and for our customers.


Ensuring no one is left behind

  • extra planning and resources should focus on those most likely to struggle to access our services

Provide modern, accessible services for changing customer needs

  • Online services should be easy to use and accessible, including a telephone and face to face service for those who need it, provided by employees delivering excellent service. We will support the use of self-service on demand, available at a time and place to suit the customer.


To deliver these standards in our services and customer care we will:

  • Work with customers as we go cashless to ensure the support is there to complete financial transactions with the council.
  • Champion digital inclusion and accessibility, working with partners to ensure there is access to devices, connectivity and skills development.

Diverse and Engaged Workforce


We have outlined in our People Strategy how we will ensure that diversity and inclusion are prioritised internally. This includes commitments on recruitment, development and retention, and processes, leadership, and governance to embed equality, diversity and inclusion within our policymaking and service delivery.


Becoming an inclusive employer

  • our culture should be inclusive, valuing difference, where all staff feel they belong and have opportunities to succeed

Demonstrating commitment

  • members and senior officers should be EDI advocates, acting as role models and demonstrating their commitment to tackling inequality

Empowering staff

  • our workforce should have equality confidence and knowledge


Among the commitments we have made as part of this are:

  • Implement and embed this plan to ensure the council is regarded as an exemplar of good practice, through our internal equalities group.
  • Cultivate leadership at all levels, so that staff are able to develop and progress throughout their careers.
  • Improve our data collection to help us understand barriers and opportunities to recruiting, retaining and developing talented people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Empower employees to create staff networks that represent the interests and experiences of those with protected characteristics.



This plan follows the Local Government Association’s framework for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. These themes inform all our work and our service plans. We need clear oversight and processes to ensure we remain on track to deliver our commitments in this strategy.

The Equalities Group chaired by the Head of People and Organisation Development will act as the advisory group to review progress at service level, reflect staff experience of EDI policy and implementation and champion EDI within service areas.

The Lead Member for HR will attend this group to strengthen accountability, and challenge and the Equalities Group will present quarterly to the Employee Consultative Group on its work as a critical friend. Progress updates on the action plan may from time to time be requested by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee, to provide independent and cross-party challenge and advice.

Our review and development of Equality and Fairness Impact Assessments and their governance will deliver improvements in how we consider and address equality and inclusion across all our services and policies.

Action Plan for Implementation of Wealden Equality Framework

Understanding and working with our communities

  • Produce case studies of good equality practice collaborating with partners to develop and share these
  • Develop communications plan to update our information on equality, diversity and including ensuring data on our population is accessible and shared on our website and engagement hub
  • Build our engagement hub to support the community equalities agenda, including the creation of a specialist practice area. Use equalities data and community feedback to inform service design and delivery.
  • Review our community engagement strategy and develop an action plan for how we will ensure community engagement is at the heart of our decision making.
  • Invest in training and support for our Councillors and Officers for effective community engagement.
  • Celebrate the rich diversity of the district and promote good community relations through support for and participation in community celebration events
  • Continue to grow the early careers programme to support the district’s education leavers into work
  • Build service engagement with the Wealden Community Equalities Reference Group


Leadership and organisational commitment

  • EDI considerations to be embedded in service planning process
    Consider the incorporation of equality analysis considerations and EDI requirements in commissioning and procurement processes.
  • We will embed our monitoring of the outcomes and impacts of changes to service delivery.
  • Redesign and develop the Equality and Fairness Impact Assessment (EFIA) and provide engagement and guidance to staff in the use of EFIAs.
    Produce revised EFIA guidance and templates and amend guidance for Cabinet reports.
  • We will continue to seek to grow the membership of our WCERG as our key critical friend for this plan, to ensure that all voices, including the least heard voices are represented in that group and therefore in our plans.


Responsive services and customer care

  • We will continue to support the Wealden Dementia Action Alliance and the Wealden Disability Involvement Group
  • Ensure service design and delivery is driven by good quality evidence about the needs of our communities, ensuring that equality analysis is informing our work.
  • Engage all staff in our 5* Customer Service Standard workshops to build a customer-centred and joined up approach to the delivery of all services

Diverse and engaged workforce

  • Agree and roll out council-wide equality framework
    Gather data to assess the extent to which we are a diverse and fair organization, through analysis of demographics, workshops, surveys
  • Bridge identified gaps between minority and majority groups with focused interventions where desirable for example, targeted development programmes, positive action in recruitment.
  • Review end to end recruitment processes and develop training and guidance for recruiting managers to ensure recruitment processes are transparent, unbiased, and inclusive from wording job adverts and writing job descriptions to onboarding and induction
  • Review our appraisal processes, building skills in giving and receiving feedback in all staff and managers, supporting staff development and skills in providing in time recognition.
  • Strengthen our equality governance so it enables effective leadership and organisational wide sharing of good practice and consistency.
    Identify senior role models for diversity and inclusion amongst staff and members to provide executive sponsorship for equality and diversity plans and be accountable for understanding and reporting on the organisation’s progress
  • Ensure equality and diversity issues are included on leadership meeting agendas whenever appropriate
  • Undertake an organisation wide conversation about what qualifies as respectful and ethical behaviour in our workplace that lives up to our organisational values
  • Develop a suite of staff engagement and communication activity to raise awareness, build role models and encourage a culture of openness
  • Redesign and commission EDI training for induction, and beyond compliance to build awareness about biases and to develop people skills in a way that reduces bias as part of a cohesive programme of work to challenge bias.
  • Create and engage staff networks, supporting groups to come together to self-form