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The Equal Opportunities Commission is being forced to abandon plans for “spot checks” to detect unfair pay for women, because the Government has slashed its budget by £750,000.

The Guardian reports that the EOC will not be able to carry out the equality checks that the Women and Work Commission has recommended. And those were a “lighter touch” (or less costly) alternative to the equal pay audits that the EOC prefers.

This Government has always seemed to be committed to tackling gender inequalities – even if it hasn’t been so brilliant at getting the job done. Gordon Brown has specifically named closing the gender pay gap as a priority issue. It is hard to fathom, therefore, why it has chosen to cut the budget of an organisation that does so much to try and affect real change in the workplace.

£750,000 is a tiny amount for the Government – so the question is, why make the cuts? The Guardian says that “sources close to the EOC” have voiced concerns that this could be the first step towards pushing the issue of equal pay down the agenda.

There are further fears that the funding cut will mean women’s issues are not properly represented when the EOC merges with the watchdogs responsible for disability and racial equality from next year. The Disability Rights Commission’s grant for last year was £21m and the Commission for Racial Equality’s £19m. The DRC confirmed its grant had also been reduced by £800,000.

Write to Trade Secretary Alan Johnson to voice your concerns about his decision here: johnsona@parliament.uk