[holding answer 6 February 2008]: The Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) runs a helpline for members of the public which includes disability inquiries. The amount allocated to this service for members of the public with disability inquiries for the six months from 1 October 2007 to 31 March 2008 is approximately £0.5 million.
The Commission has a specific power under section 16 of the Equality Act 2006 to initiate inquiries into disability and other equality, discrimination and human rights issues. The Commission is currently considering a number of proposals for inquiries. The provisions in the Equality Act 2006 require the Commission to consult those affected, on the inquiry's proposed terms of reference in advance of these being made public. The Commission has an overall budget for the six months from 1 October 2007 until 31 March 2008 of £30 million. Within this budget there is scope for the Commission to use all of its powers including inquiries and formal investigations.