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What does it mean to be British, how do we define it and why is it important? The government states fundamental British values are; democracy, rule of law, individual and mutual respect and tolerance. They are important as they underpin what it is to be a citizen in a modern and diverse Great Britain, valuing our community and celebrating the diversity of the UK.

  1. DEMOCRACY – MAKING DECISIONS TOGHTHER

We live in democratic culture, built upon freedom and equality, where everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities.

People who make decisions for us are democratically accountable – and that this accountability brings legitimacy.

Why is this important?

  • The UK has a representative democracy – we elect MPs to pass laws on our behalf.
  • Even the government has to abide by these laws – if they want to change them, they must win a vote in parliament
  • We also have democracy at other levels – regional parliaments and assemblies, elected mayors and councils. This ensures the people making decisions on behalf of everyone are regularly held accountable
  • Part of the democratic process in the UK includes campaigning for change e.g. through pressure groups, trade unions
  • Democratic accountability provides legitimacy to the decisions being made.
  • British Values are enabling – if people want to change things then they can engage with democratic process.

 

  1. RULE OF LAW – UNDERSTANDING RULES MATTER

The need for rules to make a happy, safe and secure environment to live and work.

The rule of law enables society to function better. For the most part, the rule of law is working, invisibly, to provide you with a better life.

Why is this important?

  • Society works better when everyone lives by the same rules
  • The rules are made by Parliament but an independent body – the judiciary – is responsible for seeing that they are upheld.
  • British Values are enabling – it is the rule of law, protecting our safety and giving us certainty about how others can act, that enables us to succeed.

 

  1. INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY – FREEDOM FOR ALL

Protection of your rights and the right of others you work with.

We have a lot of – but not absolute – freedom in the UK. This includes freedom to question how the country is run.

Why is this important?

  • In the UK we enjoy a relatively high level of liberty (historically / internationally)
  • Although we take freedoms for granted, UK liberty has been achieved through years of democracy (from a start-point of very little liberty for ordinary citizens and a total lack of democracy)
  • There are limits on liberty – these remain because one person’s liberty can adversely impact others.

 

  1. MUTUAL RESPECT & TOLERANCE – TREATING OTHERS HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED

Understanding that we all don’t share the same beliefs and values. Respecting the values, ideas and beliefs of others whilst not imposing our own others, while taking into consideration the Equality Act of 2010.

Why is this important?

  • British society contains a wide mix of people of different faiths and beliefs (including those who have no faith).
  • Having a different faith (or none) does not stop British people sharing values (particularly fundamental ones)
  • Mutual respect and tolerance goes beyond the minimum standards (legal protections).

What is the Equality Act 2010?

This act protects everyone against discrimination, in any context, on the grounds of certain characteristics. Protected characteristics include:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race – this includes ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality
  • religion or belief – this includes lack of belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

What is the Equality Duty?

The Equality Duty is a duty on public organisations to ensure they consider the needs of all individuals in their day to day work, in delivering services, and to their own employees.

It has three aims. It requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:

  1. eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act
  2. advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
  3. foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.