When commissioning public services, the government should only contract with groups and organisations that do not discriminate on religious grounds in employment or in the ways they provide services, the BHA has said in its response to a Cabinet Office Green Paper. Modernising Commissioning: Increasing the role of charities, social enterprises, mutual and co-operatives in public service delivery sets out the government’s plans for the future of commissioning and public service reform. The BHA does not take a position on the desirability or otherwise of a mixed economy policy in the provision of public services, and has responded to the Green Paper setting out concerns specific to the contracting of public services to religious organisations.
BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented, ‘We believe that public services should be inclusive, accessible and accountable, with their delivery based on principles of equalities and human rights, whichever organisation is providing them. The significant exceptions in equality law for religious groups to allow them to discriminate will have an impact on even those workers transferred from the local authority when a service is contracted. Without significant measures to prevent discrimination by religious groups when they are working under public contract, the inclusive secular nature of our shared public services are under threat.’
The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.