beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Minutes

Equality and Budget Advisory Group minutes: September 2016

Published: 7 Mar 2018
Location: Victoria Quay, Edinburgh

Meeting minutes of the Equality and Budget Advisory Group (EBAG) on inclusive growth and investment held on 29 September 2016.

Attendees and apologies

Present

  • Yvonne Strachan, Deputy Director for Equality, Human Rights and Third Sector, Scottish Government
  • Angela O’Hagan, Glasgow Caledonian University and Scottish Women’s Budget Group
  • Chris Oswald, Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Lorraine Cook, COSLA
  • Karen Grieve, Equality Unit, Scottish Government
  • Ellie Crawford, Economic Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Kevin Brady, Economic Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Morag Watt, Region and City Partnerships, Scottish Government

Apologies

  • James Fowlie, COSLA
  • Jim McCormick, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Paul Tyrer, Communities Analytical Services, Scottish Government
  • Ian Storrie, Finance Policy, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Item 1 - Inclusive Growth

Ellie’s presentation on the Scottish Government’s approach to Inclusive Growth (IG) was very well received by EBAG members. As part of her presentation, Ellie outlined some of the ways in which the Scottish Government is driving IG, the groups and sectors excluded from IG, and the importance of participation and productivity in tackling poverty and inequality.

In response to the final point, the question was asked if inequality was being measured in terms of income or deprivation. The point was made that any remedies will only be partial if they do not address the issues fully, and that the measures taken need to be sufficiently fine grained or nuanced to meet the objectives.

Ellie advised that the fine granularity relates to the disaggregation of data, although this requires further improvement – not all excluded groups are equally covered, especially in an internationally comparable way. An example of the way in which this has been incorporated is in the diagnostic which, in order to identify the main drivers of inclusion, focused on analysing what was constraining the main groups that were excluded (i.e. analysing disaggregated data). This highlighted the way in which the constraint on inclusive growth was impacting on the groups identified.

Similar concerns were expressed about the attainment challenge as for Modern Apprenticeships (MAs): essentially that this approach could inadvertently widen gaps rather than address them. For example, the issue of place will work for some groups but not for others. This issue is not just about women being in employment, but about where they are in the workplace.

Other questions asked included:

  1. How had the variables for the measures been decided and what aggregation was taking place to inform these?
  2. How were these measures developed, recognising the on-going invisibility of hidden provision in the care economy and the impact this has on many of the measures?
  3. How, in practice, is the integration into policy formulation driving IG through the budget process?
  4. How does the Social Economic Duty (SED) fit into this, and how is it going to be assessed? A danger is that if the data which informs the SED is socio-economically biased, it points to solutions for deprived people in poverty, and not for people who are in poverty who share protected characteristics.

In response to the final question, it was acknowledged that measuring the impact of policy outcomes was challenging in the context of a high level National Performance Framework. There is a need for disaggregated data, but the finer granularity can be diluted at more strategic levels. This work is still in progress, however, there is a statutory commitment to review aggregate measures on a regular basis.

The importance of engaging with communities and community empowerment was made. Ellie advised that the work was not only taking place at a national level but that, for example, the work with North Ayrshire demonstrated a real empowerment of communities in this area. In response, the point was made that when thinking about economic development in North Ayrshire, there is a need to plan consciously here, for example, to think about how this will benefit women rather than this being an unintentional consequence.

In response to whether the impact of these measures will be part of the inclusive growth diagnostic, Ellie advised that there is a regional element built into this tool to support thinking not only in relation to equality across groups but also across place.

The point was made that the consequences of funding decisions have a number of repercussions in other areas, for example, cuts to local government budgets and how this impacts on food poverty and employment poverty. Intersectional dimensions have to be considered and there has to be synergetic policy making to ensure the right people are benefitting from IG.

There has been a conscious effort as to how Scottish Government policy making is being approached and the way in which the strategic actions are looking in a more multi-dimensional way as to what the repercussions would be. Although this is far from perfect, it is moving in the right direction to try and address issues, such as the inequality of caring responsibilities.

It was recognised overall that significant progress has been made in this area and that the alignment with the National Performance Framework was very positive.

Item 2 – Investment

In his presentation, Kevin discussed investment by the Scottish Government in people in all stages of their life to support connectivity, to help businesses grow whilst also supporting employment opportunities, and to increase the resilience of communities. There is a move now beyond a definition of investment around ‘traditional’ infrastructure into human capital, natural assets and regeneration, but also a broader understanding than purely capital investment to boost the economy and increase productivity, for example, investment in childcare, social care and social housing. When public money is invested in housing, the expectation is that it will reflect housing needs in the broadest sense, including older people, disabled people and ethnic minority communities. In aiming to have a progressive model of procurement, we need to ensure equality needs are considered as part of this.

Item 3 – City Deals

As part of her presentation, Morag explained the way in which City Deals had originated, and that for the Glasgow Deal, which has a 20 year funding profile, gateway reviews will take place every five years. These will be informed by an Economic Commission on Urban Growth as well as a national panel that will consider all deals across the UK which include a large infrastructure fund.

It was commented on that the Inverness deal looked different from other deals as it was clear there were equality issues at the heart of its development. Concern was expressed that the current set up has the potential to absolve local partners and that there was not sufficient consequences for poor performance. The message seems to be that this is everyone’s responsibility but at the same time no-one’s responsibility.

The group was not convinced that fairness and governance – in particular equality governance – was a key part of the development of City Deals. The view was that this needed to be built in from the outset, otherwise it becomes an unintended consequence of policy. It was recognised that there are significant equality challenges for City Deals, and so any investment here should include commitments to deliver benefits to equality groups.

In response, Morag advised that a prescriptive approach had not been taken, but rather a similar approach to Commonwealth Games procurement. In Glasgow, for example, such an approach had helped to ensure locally based SMEs were sighted, that MAs were included, and that people in the construction industry from particular postcodes were brought in to benefit from the Commonwealth Games investment. The responsibility for delivering positive economic impacts from the Glasgow City Deal sits firmly with the local government partners. One of the aims of the deal is to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are spread across the region, ensuring that deprived areas benefit. This is one of the considerations that will be taken into account at the five year gateway.

Morag was asked how lessons are being learned, and how communities bring the accountability of locally held empowerment to bear. She replied that City Deals do not absolve local authorities of their duties under the Public Sector Equality Duty, and that the Scottish Government expects locally elected members to make the correct choices and do the right thing for their regional circumstances. Each deal is tailored to the local circumstances, hence each deal will have its own evaluation framework and measures of success. There was concern from EBAG members that such an arrangement would only provide the opportunity for post-hoc analysis rather than being a planned approach.

In summary, the Scottish Government’s understanding of inclusive growth and our mechanisms for achieving this are beginning to inform other work, for example, around City Deals. Such investment can be transformational from an equality perspective.

EBAG members and individual contributors to the thematic discussions were thanked for their participation.

NB: Separate to the discussion on the day, some questions were raised around City Deals for tabling at the meeting. The response given to these questions follows.

City Deals aim to deliver outcomes that are entirely consistent with Scotland’s Economic Strategy, simply at a different geographic scale. On that basis, City Deals don’t set any different targets in terms of the resources that are brought together to deliver "success" for all the funding partners. What the deals aim to do is incentivise and support local partners to go beyond what they have otherwise been able to deliver at their own hand – typically, by looking over a longer timeframe (10 or 20 years) – and bringing together a package of support that regional partners believe will deliver a positive impact on their regional economy. This applies across all the deals, including those under discussion, e.g. Ayrshire.

As an example, Glasgow is the most advanced of the deals, although even that has only been around 18 months in delivery. It has a clear ambition to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are spread across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley, ensuring deprived areas benefit from this growth.

There are five-yearly gateway points at which Ministers (from the Scottish and UK Governments) will take a view on whether the deal is delivering against its aims, and whether the next five years’ worth of funding should be released. The first Glasgow gateway is scheduled for 2019 and will be informed by assessments of the following two independent entities:

UK Wide Independent Evaluation Panel

  • Following the signature of a number of UK City Deals with infrastructure components (including Greater Manchester, Leeds, and Cambridge) it was agreed that there would be a central panel to monitor and evaluate success of these deals in a consistent manner.
  • A panel has now been procured (by local authorities) and is expected to set out proposed metrics and methodologies for national and local evaluations by March 2017.

Glasgow Commission on Urban Economic Growth

  • The initial City Deal document set out the existence of the Commission as the means to assessing performance at Gateway Reviews.
  • Following the decision to have a UK wide panel, it was agreed that the Commission should still advise Scottish Ministers, and would focus on ensuring that the Glasgow City Deal is delivering on Scotland’s Economic Strategy, including the inclusive growth element.
  • The Chair of the Commission is Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow.

Given the very clear emphasis in Scotland’s Economic Strategy to delivering inclusive growth, we will be looking to both these groups to draw out the effectiveness of the deal in delivering this.

Contact

Email: Karen.Grieve@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Post:
Equality and Budget Advisory Group
Scottish Government
Equality Unit
Directorate for Local Government and Communities
Area 3H South
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh
EH6 6QQ

Published:
7 Mar 2018
Equality and Budget Advisory Group minutes: September 2016