Marriage & Civil Partnership

1  Introduction

This is one in a series of needs assessments regarding protected characteristic groups to support compliance with the public sector Equality Duty (The Equality Act 2010).

The document is intended to raise awareness of the key public health, and health and social care considerations relevant to relevant to marriage and civil partnership; and to provide a starting point to inform the development of Equality Impact Needs Assessments (EINAs).

Marriage and civil partnership is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 in the following respect:

In England and Wales marriage is no longer restricted to a union between a man and a woman but now includes a marriage between a same-sex couple. This will also be true in Scotland when the relevant legislation is brought into force.

Same-sex couples can also have their relationships legally recognised as ‘civil partnerships’. Civil partners must not be treated less favourably than married couples (except where permitted by the Equality Act). [1].

2  Background

There is limited, systematically considered evidence available on the particular health and social care needs of people in terms of marriage and civil partnership.

However, it is important that health and social care services are aware of and respectful of the legal equivalence of marriage and civil partnership when dealing with individuals, their partners and families. Other issues potentially relevant to people in civil partnerships are covered in the associated needs assessment on Sexual Orientation.

Some research evidence suggests that married people and their children are less likely to suffer problems with their mental wellbeing.

It seems likely that these benefits will also potentially be enjoyed by people in similarly committed and secure relationships, including civil partnership, and other long term couple partnerships. However, some research suggests that such benefits are associated specifically with marriage as opposed to other forms of couple partnership.

Conversely it is important to recognise that people who are not married, in a civil partnership, or other couple partnership are less likely to have a partner and/or children who can provide care, and are more likely to live alone. Consequently health and social care providers need to take account of such personal characteristics in meeting individual needs.

Also, some research suggests that men who are unmarried or do not have a partner, have poorer health than their married equivalents.

3  Local Picture

According to the 2011 Census, almost half (48%) of Richmond residents aged over 16 years of age described their status as ‘married’.

Table 1. Marital status profile among 150,052 Richmond residents aged over 16 (2011)


% of 16+ population











Source: 2011 Census data, ONS

In addition, 665 residents (0.4% of the eligible population) stated they were in a civil partnership.

4  Service Provision

A comprehensive range of public health programmes[2], and health and social care services are designed, planned and delivered to meet the needs of Richmond’s population.

The following mechanisms are in place to ensure that consideration is given to the diverse population and individual needs of residents, including those of protected characteristic groups.

  • Development of needs assessments to research local population health and wellbeing needs.
  • Liaison with a range of local community organisations.
  • Tailoring of the design and delivery of services to maximise their appropriateness and accessibility to all residents, including the targeting of services and initiatives at populations with diverse needs, including protected characteristic groups. For example, consideration of the needs of single people in the Richmond Loneliness and Isolation Strategy.
  • Audits, reviews, and evaluations of existing services including consideration of equality and diversity issues.
  • Equality Impact Needs Assessments (EINAs) of new services and changes to existing services.
  • Monitoring of service use by key population characteristics, including some protected characteristic groups.
  • Adoption of equality requirements in service specifications and monitoring processes as part of contracting requirements for services and their providers.
  • Annual reviews of compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duties.
  • Implementation of the NHS Equality Diversity System by local NHS commissioners and providers.
  • The council has undertaken an audit of provisions for protected characteristic groups in public health programmes, and the findings are under consideration.

5  Conclusion

A number of further actions are underway or being considered by Richmond Borough Council, including:

  • Development of a detailed Equalities Profile for the Borough based on the results of the 2011 Census. This will further support general consideration of protected characteristic group equality issues across council responsibilities and beyond.
  • Work to support Richmond CCG in their planned update of their Public Sector Equality Statement and implementation of the NHS Equality Diversity System.
  • Consideration of the extension of routine consistent equality monitoring of all protected characteristic groups, including use by people’s status as married or in a civil partnership, across public health programmes, in addition to those groups most frequently routinely covered by standard data collection systems (i.e. age, sex/gender, ethnicity).
  • Review of service specifications for the commissioned services included in public health programmes, to ensure an adequate and consistent approach equality issues relating to the protected characteristic groups.
  • Review of access to data essential to undertake adequate equality monitoring of key public health services, particularly immunisation and screening.

6  References

[1] Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website accessed 10/03/2014

[2] NHS Health Checks, LiveWell Richmond health lifestyle service, Kick It stop smoking service, School nursing and the National Child Measurement Programme, Sexual health and contraception services, Substance misuse services, Screening programmes, Immunisation programmes.

The Equality and Diversity pages of DataRich provide further data and analysis on each of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

Document Information

Published: July 2014
For review: July 2017
Topic lead: Jane Bailey, Public Health Lead