The government’s equality strategy will be outlined today.
A law dubbed “socialism in one clause” will be scrapped under the plans and the right to request flexible working will be extended to everyone, not just parents and carers.
Shadow women and equality minister Yvette Cooper said the move to axe the law, designed to force public authorities to take into account disadvantage and inequalities when making decisions about policies “gives the lie to the government’s claim that ‘we’re all in this together’”.
But home secretary Theresa May, who will outline the new strategy to MPs today, said that in reality “Harman’s Law”, named after the Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman who introduced it under the previous government, was just another bureaucratic box to be ticked.
It could have meant public spending would have been skewed towards certain parts of the country with public services being closed down in some areas to be reopened in others, she said last month.
Bin collections and bus routes would have had to be designed “not on the basis of practical need but on this one politically-motivated target”.
It is still unclear whether the government will go ahead with other Labour legislation which would require employers to disclose whether they pay women as much as men.
Mrs May, who is also the equalities minister, said the previous government “thought they could make people’s lives better by simply passing a law saying that they should be better”.
The coalition government will stop dictating to people how they should behave, she said.
The new plans will also make it possible for those with old convictions for consensual gay sex to apply for their record to be deleted from the police national computer.