Northern ireland office equality scheme

Assessing public access to information and services

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Assessing public access to information and services

    1. We annually monitor across all our functions, in relation to access to information and services, to ensure equality of opportunity and good relations are promoted.

Chapter 7: Timetable for measures we propose in this equality scheme

    1. Appendix 4 outlines our timetable for all measures proposed within this equality scheme. The measures outlined in this timetable will be incorporated into our business planning processes.

    1. This timetable is different from and in addition to our commitment to developing action plans/action measures to specifically address inequalities and further promote equality of opportunity and good relations. We have included in our equality scheme a commitment to develop an action plan. Accordingly, this commitment it is listed in the timetable of measures at Appendix 4.

Chapter 8: Our complaints procedure

    1. The NIO is responsive to the views of members of the public. We will endeavour to resolve all complaints made to us.

Process for making a complaint

    1. Schedule 9 paragraph 10 of the Act refers to complaints. A person can make a complaint to a public authority if the complainant believes he or she may have been directly affected by an alleged failure of the authority to comply with its approved equality scheme. If the complaint has not been resolved within a reasonable timescale, the complaint can be brought to the Equality Commission.

    1. A person wishing to make a complaint that the NIO has failed to comply with its approved equality scheme should contact:

Corporate Governance Team

Stormont House

Stormont Estate



Tel: 028 9076 5497

Text phone: 028 9052 7668

    1. We will in the first instance acknowledge receipt of each complaint within 5 working days.

    1. The NIO will carry out an internal investigation of the complaint and will respond substantively to the complainant within 20 working days of the date of receiving the letter of complaint. Under certain circumstances, if the complexity of the matter requires a longer period, the period for response to the complainant may be extended to 40 working days. In those circumstances, the complainant will be advised of the extended period within 20 working days of making the complaint.

    1. During this process the complainant will be kept informed of the progress of the investigation into the complaint and of any outcomes. In any subsequent investigation by the Equality Commission, the NIO will co-operate fully, providing access in a timely manner to any relevant documentation that the Equality Commission may require.

    1. Similarly, the NIO will co-operate fully with any investigation by the Equality Commission under sub-paragraph 11. (1) (b) of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

    1. The NIO will make all efforts to implement promptly and in full any recommendations arising out of any Commission investigation.

Chapter 9: Publication of the equality scheme

    1. The NIO’s equality scheme is available free of charge in print form and alternative formats on request from:

Corporate Governance Team

Stormont House

Stormont Estate



Tel: 028 9076 5497

Text phone: 028 9052 7668

    1. The equality scheme is also available on our website at:

    1. The following arrangements are in place for the publication in a timely manner and within one month of the approval of our equality scheme to ensure equality of access:

  • We will make every effort to communicate widely the existence and content of our equality scheme. This may include press releases, prominent advertisements in the press, and the internet and direct mail shots to groups representing the various categories in Section 75.

  • We will email a link to our approved equality scheme to our consultees on our consultation lists. Other consultees without e-mail will be notified by letter that the scheme is available on request. We will respond to requests for the equality scheme in alternative formats in a timely manner, usually within 2-3 weeks.

  • Our equality scheme is available on request in alternative formats such as Easy Read, Braille, large print, audio formats ( CD, mp3, DAISY) and in minority languages to meet the needs of those not fluent in English.

    1. For a list of our stakeholders and consultees please see Appendix 3 of this equality scheme.

Chapter 10: Review of the equality scheme

    1. As required by paragraph 8. (3) of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, we will conduct a thorough review of this equality scheme. This review will take place either within five years of submission of this equality scheme to the Equality Commission or within a shorter timescale to allow alignment with the review of other planning cycles.

    1. The review will evaluate the effectiveness of our scheme in relation to the implementation of the Section 75 statutory duties relevant to our functions in Northern Ireland.

    1. In undertaking this review we will follow any guidance issued by the Equality Commission. A report of this review will be published on the NIO’s website and submitted to the Equality Commission.

Appendix 1: Organisational chart
A copy of the NIO’s organisational chart can be found at the following link:
Appendix 2: Example groups relevant to the Section 75 categories for Northern Ireland purposes
Please note, this list is for illustration purposes only, it is not exhaustive.


Example groups

Religious belief

Buddhist; Catholic; Hindu; Jewish; Muslims, people of no religious belief; Protestants; Sikh; other faiths.

For the purposes of Section 75, the term “religious belief” is the same definition as that used in the Fair Employment & Treatment (NI) Order6. Therefore, “religious belief” also includes any perceived religious belief (or perceived lack of belief) and, in employment situations only, it also covers any “similar philosophical belief”.

Political opinion7

Nationalist generally; Unionists generally; members/supporters of other political parties.

Racial group

Black people; Chinese; Indians; Pakistanis; people of mixed ethnic background; Polish; Roma; Travellers; White people.

Men and women generally

Men (including boys); Trans-gendered people; Transsexual people; women (including girls).

Marital status

Civil partners or people in civil partnerships; divorced people; married people; separated people; single people; widowed people.


Children and young people; older people.

Persons with a disability

Persons with disabilities as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Persons with dependants

Persons with personal responsibility for the care of a child; for the care of a person with a disability; or the care of a dependant older person.

Sexual orientation

Bisexual people; heterosexual people; gay or lesbian people.

Appendix 3: List of consultees

(Schedule 9 4. (2)(a))

This list is indicative and not exhaustive and will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure it remains relevant to the NIO’s functions and policies.

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