David Cameron has been criticised by the NUS after announcing plans to remove assessments that are designed to ensure the government is complying with the Equality Act.

Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) were introduced by the previous Labour government to make sure officials took account of disability, gender, sexual orientation and race in their decisions.

Speaking at the CBI conference in central London on Monday, the prime minister said the Equality Act was “not a bad piece of legislation”, but he added: “In government we have taken the letter of this law and gone way beyond it, with Equality Impact Assessments for every decision we make.

“Let me be very clear. I care about making sure that government policy never marginalises or discriminates. I care about making sure we treat people equally. But let’s have the courage to say it – caring about these things does not have to mean churning out reams of bureaucratic nonsense.

The PM continued: “We have smart people in Whitehall who consider equalities issues while they’re making the policy. We don’t need all this extra tick-box stuff. So I can tell you today, we are calling time on Equality Impact Assessments. You no longer have to do them if these issues have been properly considered.”

In response, Finn McGoldrick, NUS LGBT officer, said: “This government’s view of Equality Impact Assessments as ‘unnecessary bureaucracy’ shows just how little they value equality and diversity. EIAs have proven essential in tackling discrimination against LGBT people, to move responsibility for tackling discrimination away from the government and onto LGBT people is disgraceful.”