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Publication - Report

Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report 2015

Published: 30 Apr 2015
Part of:
Equality and rights, Public sector
ISBN:
9781785443152

Update on Scottish Government's aims to incorporate equality across its activities and deliver on equality outcomes set in April 2013.

187 page PDF

5.2MB

187 page PDF

5.2MB

Contents
Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report 2015
Supplementary information

187 page PDF

5.2MB

Supplementary information

LEGISLATION AND POLICIES OF RELEVANCE TO EQUALITY

This documents highlights some of the recent Acts of the Scottish Parliament, Bills and policies that are (or will be) of particular benefit to equality groups. The list below is not meant to be exhaustive. It includes policies of both the Scottish Government and its Agencies.

ACTS OF THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

The Act includes provisions that:

  • from August 2014, increase the amount and flexibility of free early learning and childcare from 475 to a minimum of 600 hours per year for 3 and 4 year olds, and 15% of Scotland's most vulnerable 2 year olds (extending to 27% from August 2015)
  • provide free school lunches to all children in primary 1-3, starting from January 2015
  • give all 16-year olds in care the right to stay in care until the age of 21 (from 2015); extend the support available to young people leaving care up to the age of 26; and support the parenting role of kinship carers
  • enshrine elements of the Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC) approach in law: ensuring there is a single planning approach for children who need additional support from services; providing a single point of contact for every child; and fostering a holistic understanding of well-being
  • create new duties in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and strengthen the Children's Commissioner role
  • strengthen existing legislation that affects children, including a number of amendments to the process for school closure proposals under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

An equality impact assessment concluded that the Bill's provisions could have many potential benefits and positive impacts on individuals and groups that share a protected characteristic. For example:

  • the promotion of children's well-being, and how actions and activities may improve their well-being, should better engage all parents
  • young children, including 2 year olds who are looked after or subject to a kinship care order, will receive additional hours of early learning and childcare
  • increased flexibility in how early learning and childcare are provided will bring particular benefits for women as the primary carers, specifically regarding cost and accessibility of childcare, which can act as a barrier to return to work
  • the promotion of knowledge of rights for children and young people
  • putting Scotland's Adoption Register on a statutory footing will help diversify the range of children adopted
  • promotion of equality for young people leaving care through extending the age to which they may be eligible to receive local authority support
  • the Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC) approach will be a positive tool in achieving equality of treatment, opportunity and, crucially, of outcomes.

Disabled Persons' Parking Badges (Scotland) Act 2014

The intention of the Act is to introduce fairer and more equitable arrangements for those disabled people who depend on their Blue Badge to allow them to park close to their destination. Blue Badge holders are exempt from normal parking restrictions and this legislation will strengthen the enforcement powers of local authorities to tackle widespread abuse of the scheme, and thereby free up car parking spaces for disabled people who meet the eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge. This will encourage independent travel and access to community services, help disabled people retain their independence, and reduce social isolation.

Housing (Scotland) Act 2014

The Act will, among other things, end the right to buy in Scotland, give local authorities new discretionary powers to tackle disrepair in the private rented sector, and introduce a first-tier tribunal to deal with disputes in the private rented sector. The provisions are expected to have a number of positive impacts on people who share protected characteristics:

  • Age: because victimisation against mobile home residents can focus on older people, the introduction of a fit and proper person test for site owners and more tools for local authorities to tackle unscrupulous site owners, will have a positive impact on older residents. Social housing proposals will provide additional protection from unjustifiable discrimination for 16 and 17 year olds.
  • Disabled people: the Private Rented Sector Tribunal is likely to be particularly beneficial to those who may find it difficult to engage with court procedures. Tribunal procedures are generally designed around the needs of users, and specialist staff will be able to assist those who need help. Ending the Right to Buy will help to preserve the stock of social housing, which is expected to benefit the 43% of adults in the social rented sector who have a disability or long term illness and may find it more difficult to access finance.
  • Sex: young, single men are the most likely group to be homeless and could benefit if landlords use the proposed social housing policy changes to make better use of empty adapted properties for short term housing. The Private Rented Sector Tribunal will provide a more accessible forum for both men and women, and therefore help to advance equality of opportunity.
  • Race: third party reporting rights to the Private Rented Housing Panel and powers to allow Ministers to designate areas as enhanced enforcement areas give local authorities new discretionary powers to help them tackle poor conditions in the private rented sector, which particularly affect migrant workers and those for whom language difficulties present a barrier to challenging their landlord.
  • Religion or belief, gender reassignment, sexual orientation: the Act's social housing provisions will allow landlords to take swifter action to address anti-social behaviour, which should benefit those experiencing harassment or victimisation.

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014

The Act provides equality of opportunity for same-sex couples, who can now marry in the same way as opposite-sex couples, and for transgender people by making provision for them to obtain a full Gender Recognition Certificate and stay married. The Act and associated legislation also promote and protect religious freedom, in that religious and belief bodies are free to decide for themselves whether or not to solemnise same-sex marriage and register civil partnerships.

Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013

A wide programme of reform to ensure the Post-16 education system better supports jobs and growth, improves life chances, and is sustainable for the long-term. The Act introduced provisions covering:

  • improving the governance of all higher education institutions
  • widening access
  • tuition fees cap for UK students and certain others not entitled to be charged at the level set by the Scottish Government
  • college regionalisation
  • review of fundable further and higher education
  • data sharing

The Act's provisions are intended to have a positive impact on those who would normally have been rejected by a higher education institution in Scotland but who would now find it easier to be accepted as a result of the widening access agreements. The Scottish Government increased the number of funded places available in the three academic years from 2013 to 2016, with dedicated places available to support widening access. Therefore we would not expect to see any displacement of students at this stage as a result of the provisions. Analysis of the impact on particular equality groups is not yet possible as student data for the relevant period is not yet available. The information sharing provisions within the Act and supporting regulations ensure that Skills Development Scotland is informed when a person aged 16-25 is receiving services from persons named in the regulations, but do not enforce the sharing of information about protected characteristics. This has supported the delivery of Opportunities for All, ensuring that any young person (16-20) can be monitored and tracked through their learning journey so appropriate support can be provided if they disengage.

Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

The Act and three new EU Directives complement the requirements laid out in the Equality Act 2010 to further advance equality through procurement strategy and process. The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act requires:

  • a contracting authority to consider how, by the way in which it conducts the procurement process, it might improve economic, social and environmental well-being (which includes reducing inequality)
  • those contracting authorities that expect significant expenditure in the next financial year (above £5 million) to prepare a new procurement strategy (or review the existing one) and produce annual procurement reports. Procurement policy officials intend to cross reference equality reporting duties in the guidance relating to the procurement strategy and annual report.

Scottish Ministers are given powers to issue guidance that contracting authorities must have regard to when selecting suppliers to participate in a procurement process. This will include suppliers' approach to workforce matters.

Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014

The Act puts in place arrangements for integrating health and social care, and requires Health Boards and local authorities to work together effectively to deliver quality, sustainable care services. It also requires Health Boards, local authorities and Integration Authorities to plan and deliver services in line with the integration planning and delivery principles, which promote the rights of all service users and put people's needs and choice at the centre. An Equalities Reference Group was established to inform the equality impact assessment process and, in response to stakeholder feedback, the initial focus on improving outcomes for older people was redefined to include all adults. The emphasis changed to those with multiple long term conditions and complex support needs rather than only older people, which implies an 'age criteria'. The Scottish Government expects Integration Authorities to undertake an appropriate level of impact assessment to ensure that the development of integrated services supports the whole population. Staff training and development will be integral to ensuring positive impacts across the equality characteristics, and the Act requires engagement with service users, carers and their families to ensure that services are designed and delivered with the person's needs at the centre. The national health and well-being outcomes, which include a focus on reducing health inequalities, were developed in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including disabled people's organisations, older people's forums, service providers and service commissioners, and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013

The Act defined eligibility to vote in the Scottish independence referendum, including enabling 16 and 17 year olds to register and providing for a separate Register of Young Voters to ensure their details are held securely. Evidence on the equality impact of the Act was collected through the public consultation on the referendum (January to May 2012); a technical consultation with key stakeholders (December 2012 to January 2013); and engagement with internal and external stakeholders over the course of the Act's development. Reducing the voting age encouraged participation by young people in Scotland's democratic processes and gave them a voice on matters that affect them. Around 90% of all 16 and 17 year olds registered to vote in the Scottish independence referendum. Subject to the agreement of a Section 30 Order transferring competence to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation to lower the voting age to 16 for all Scottish Parliament and local government elections in Scotland.

Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013

The Scottish Government is committed to developing self-directed support as a way of giving individuals and their families flexibility, choice and control over the support services they receive. Our approach to social care and support is based on the core principles of collaboration, involvement and informed choice, together with the independent living principles of dignity and participation. The Act, which came in to force in April 2014, gives people a range of options for how their social care is delivered and places duties on local authorities to offer people informed choices as to how they will receive their support. Funding from the Scottish Government self-directed support implementation programme has enabled specialised organisations to ensure that disabled people, young people, older people and people from ethnic minority backgrounds are able to direct their own support.

Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014

The Act creates a new integrated structure for devolved tribunals in Scotland under the judicial leadership of the Lord President, which will help to improve practice and procedures across the system. Consistent processes and standards, where appropriate, should improve communication with users, and provide opportunities for good practice to be shared with other jurisdictions to ensure the same high standards are provided to all. Having, insofar as appropriate, improved consistency across the system, a clear organisational and management structure will enhance the opportunity to collect more robust information and data on diversity and equality.

Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014

The reforms to the justice system contained in the Act improve the support and information available to victims and witnesses in Scotland. Measures in the Act include improved support for the most vulnerable witnesses, with a new presumption that certain individuals - alleged victims of sexual offences, domestic abuse, human trafficking and stalking - are vulnerable and automatically entitled to use special measures, such as a screen or TV link, when giving evidence. As incidents with a female victim and male perpetrator represent 80% of all incidents of domestic abuse, [59] and women are around four times more likely than men to be victims in cases of serious sexual assault, [60] the measures will help these individuals in particular to give their best evidence whilst minimising further distress in doing so.

Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015

The Act, which will come into force in April 2016, places the Scottish Welfare Fund ( SWF) into law, and puts a duty on each local authority ( LA) to maintain a welfare fund. It also gives the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman ( SPSO) new powers to scrutinise LA decisions, providing an independent review function for individuals who apply for help from the fund.

Prior to being set out in law, the SWF had been operating on an interim basis since April 2013, helping people on low incomes secure essential household goods and providing living costs in a crisis. There is a correlation between low income and disability, gender and race. Community Care Grants help people to stay in or set up home in the community, and Crisis Grants meet an immediate financial need as well as connect people with vital services to prevent further harm. The Scottish Government has added £9.2 million to the funds available for grants in the two financial years 2012-14, totalling £33 million, and has fully funded the SWF for 2015-16. Between April 2013 and September 2014, around 120,000 unique households received a grant. SWF prioritisation criteria for applications include the vulnerability of the applicant, for example due to pregnancy, recent childbirth or adoption, being a main care giver or lone parent, fleeing domestic abuse, disability or terminal illness. The Scottish Government has set up a comprehensive monitoring framework, which allows for the tracking of applications and success rates. Equality data (on age, gender, pregnancy and maternity) suggest that guidance is being applied in most areas, with the effect that many grants are being awarded to people who share protected characteristics.

BILLS

British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill

The Bill proposed by Mark Griffin MSP aims to promote the use and understanding of British Sign Language ( BSL). It requires BSL plans to be prepared and published by the Scottish Ministers (the National Plan) and by listed public authorities (Authority Plans). BSL plans will be reviewed, reported on and updated at regular intervals. The intention is that, by placing this obligation on the Scottish Government and listed authorities, the profile of the language will be heightened and its use in the delivery of services increased. The Scottish Government has signalled its support for the Bill. We acknowledge the importance of recognising and promoting BSL as a language, and improving the access which Deaf BSL users have to public services and public information. Requiring the Scottish Government and key public authorities to develop BSL plans will help promote the use of BSL in Scotland, improve linguistic access for Deaf BSL users, and enable Deaf people to enjoy greater participation in daily and public life in Scotland.

Although Deaf people are protected within the disability provisions of our domestic equality legislation and international human rights treaties, most profoundly Deaf people who use BSL do not regard themselves as disabled but as a linguistic and cultural minority. Furthermore, it is clear that Deaf people in Scotland still face discrimination and exclusion, and Scottish Ministers support the view that a different approach to support BSL as a language and to promote linguistic access for Deaf people will help address these issues. Ministers are working with the member in charge of the Bill to explore ways of simplifying and streamlining some of the provisions, which we think will make it stronger and more effective. These will be lodged as Government amendments at Stage 2 of the Bill.

Carers (Scotland) Bill

The Bill, introduced to Parliament on 9 March 2014, aims to better support Scotland's estimated 745,000 adult carers and 44,000 young carers on a more consistent basis so that they can continue to care, if they so wish, in good health and have a life alongside caring, and so that young carers can have a childhood similar to their non-carer peers.

The Bill widens access to support by removing the current requirement that a carer must be able to demonstrate that they care for someone on a regular and substantial basis. It also introduces the adult carer support plan and the young carer statement. The adult carer support plan will replace carers' assessments and will set out the adult carer's identified personal outcomes and needs, and any support to be provided. The young carer statement will be introduced for carers of 18 and under to recognise their unique needs. The Bill places a duty on local authorities to provide support to carers based on whether the carer's assessed needs meet local eligibility criteria, and a duty to publish these criteria, developed through public consultation. In addition, local authorities will have a power to support carers whose needs do not meet eligibility criteria.

The Bill places an obligation on local authorities to involve carers, young carers and carers' organisations in the planning, shaping, delivery and review of service, and carers are to be involved in care planning for the person they care for and in support for themselves. The Bill will introduce a service to provide information and advice in a number of key areas, which will be both accessible and proportionate to the local population. As part of this service, local authorities will be required to prepare and publish a short breaks statement, providing information to adult and young carers about the range of short breaks that are available in Scotland.

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Government believes that Scotland's people are its greatest asset, and one of our key aims is to create the conditions for community empowerment. The Bill reflects the policy principles of subsidiarity, community empowerment and improving outcomes, and provides a strategic framework that will:

  • empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings, and strengthen their voices in the decisions that matter to them
  • support an increase in the pace and scale of Public Service Reform by cementing the focus on achieving outcomes and improving the process of community planning.

The Bill aims to support approaches that can contribute to improving outcomes in all aspects of people's lives. Since the Bill's provisions are largely enabling, the equality impacts will depend on the specific proposals brought forward. The available information shows that many individual community bodies seek to include people from all groups within their communities, support those who may be disadvantaged and promote good relationships between, for example, different age groups, different ethnicities and between people with disabilities and without. When making decisions under the provisions of the Bill, local authorities, public bodies and the Scottish Ministers will need to have the public sector equality duty in mind. In response to suggestions from stakeholders, equality has also been included as an issue which public authorities are explicitly required to consider when making decisions on asset transfer requests or participation requests.

Education (Scotland) Bill

The Education (Scotland) Bill introduced to parliament in March 2015 will further progress the Scottish Government's commitment to recognising, respecting and promoting children's and parental rights. For example, the Bill will extend children's rights within existing additional support for learning legislation; enhance the process for complaints made to Ministers under section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 by introducing statutory timescales which must be met by those involved in that process; and ensure that all teachers within independent schools and grant aided special schools are registered through the General Teaching Council for Scotland (and therefore adhere to GTCS's Professional Values that are at the core to being a teacher, including social justice). The Bill will require local authorities to introduce measures to reduce the attainment gap and report on progress.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill

The Bill is designed to improve how Scotland deals with the trafficking of human beings and the exploitation of individuals. It will create a legislative framework which ensures that police, prosecutors and other agencies have the powers to make Scotland a hostile environment for human traffickers and those who exploit others, and helps to identify and support the needs of victims. Some of the proposals are intended to ensure that the particular circumstances of individuals may be taken into account. For example, the slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour offence requires that the court, in assessing whether a person has been the victim of the offence, has regard to any characteristics that make the alleged victim more vulnerable than other people, and this could include protected characteristics.

POLICIES

A range of policies is being taken forward across the Scottish Government which assist those with protected characteristics to improved outcomes or life experience. This is not an exhaustive list but highlights some of those policies from across the different portfolios. Policies below have been grouped into different sections: Communities; Culture and External Affairs; Early Years; Education, Skills and Employment; Health; Housing; Justice; Rural Affairs and the Environment; Sport and Physical Activity; Transport; and Other.

COMMUNITIES

'Equally Safe' violence against women and girls

Women and girls are at risk of certain forms of violence and abuse throughout their lives, including domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault, precisely because they are female. Equally Safe: Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls aims to tackle the discrimination, harassment and victimisation experienced by women and girls, with the long-term goal of preventing and eradicating this violence and abuse altogether. Some factors can increase vulnerability to abuse and keep women trapped; for example age, financial dependence, poverty, disability, homelessness, insecure immigration status and ethnicity. Addressing these additional risks will be a key requirement in our future work, and equality analysis and assessment will be an integral part of the process around the development of our action plans.

'New Scots' refugee integration strategy

New Scots: Integrating Refugees in Scotland's Communities is the Scottish Government's three year strategy for refugee integration in Scotland, developed and being implemented in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) and the Scottish Refugee Council. The strategy provides a clear framework for all those working towards supporting refugees to build a new life from the day they arrive in Scotland, to realise their full potential with the support of mainstream services, and to become active members of our communities with strong social relationships. A Year 1: Implementation Progress Report was published on 27 March 2015 detailing progress from year one and steps which will be taken in year two. Lead organisations have reviewed national policy on ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to ensure that for all those accessing ESOL, including refugees and asylum seekers, provision is relevant, appropriate and meets their specific needs, and local organisations have been monitoring access to local ESOL provision.

CULTURE AND EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

Homecoming Scotland 2014

Homecoming Scotland 2014 helped to extend the benefits and opportunities offered by the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup by presenting a year-long, co-ordinated programme of events designed to generate pride in the people of Scotland and welcome visitors around the world in a celebration of some of Scotland's greatest assets. During 2014, over 2 million people attended 1,049 events across Scotland. One of Homecoming Scotland's objectives was to 'engage, inspire and mobilise communities across Scotland'. The equality impact assessment process identified particular opportunities to engage ethnic minority, religion/belief and LGBT communities, and also indicated that enhancing access and information would help engage disabled people in the year. Tailored updates were sent to showcase Homecoming attractions and invite participation from different communities, and regular meetings were held with bodies representing minority ethnic and LGBT communities. A series of actions was delivered to boost equalities:

  • Race: The Scottish Government provided £40,000 for the Multi-Cultural Homecoming Celebration, organised in partnership with BEMIS. Forty-three projects, involving over 6,500 people across 18 different ethnic and cultural communities, received a share of grant funding totalling £25,000.
  • Sexual orientation/gender reassignment: The Scottish Government provided approximately £40,000 for a programme to boost the engagement of the LGBT community. Organised in partnership with LGBT Youth, Equality Network, Scottish Transgender Alliance, and LEAP Sports, activity included: LGBT History month, which was themed around Homecoming 2014; research into the needs and aspirations of LGBT visitors to Scotland (subsequently used to inform a new section on VS.com to welcome LGBT visitors); support for Pride House (a centre for LGBT visitors during the Commonwealth Games); and an International Conference for the Transgender and Intersex Community, which was held in Edinburgh in October 2014.
  • Disabled people: The Scottish Government provided £43,000 to support VisitScotland in working with the tourism industry to improve accessibility in the tourism sector, including through the development of on-line skills training.
  • Religion or belief: The Scottish Government liaised with the Church of Scotland and Action of Churches Together in Scotland to ensure that faith communities were engaged in Homecoming. Interfaith Scotland was invited to participate in the Multi-Cultural Homecoming celebration.

International Development Fund

The Scottish Government's International Development Policy articulates the vision of Scotland's place in the world as a good global citizen, committed to playing its role in addressing the challenges faced by our world. We support projects in seven countries around the world (Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the three poorest states in India). Our work is clearly focused on the objective of poverty alleviation and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs), and must adhere to the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. A number of our projects contain outcomes which contribute to the elimination of discrimination:

  • empowering women and girls by facilitating access to financial services, and training in financial literacy and business development skills
  • increasing the integration of disabled people in communities by providing vocational training and business support
  • empowering young people to protect them from harmful cultural practices
  • equipping primary schools with up to date IT equipment to improve numeracy and literacy skills.

Luminate - Scotland's creative ageing festival

Luminate promotes the inclusion of older people in the arts, as artists, participants and audience members and, through the promotion of intergenerational activity, helps to address stigma around ageing. It takes place across Scotland in October and spotlights arts activities by and for older people, as well as events for audiences across the generations, to celebrate creativity, share stories and explore what ageing means to all of us. Many events are held in the daytime, which the Festival organisers note is the most convenient time for many older people, and the outreach programme hosts activities in care homes and day centres as well as traditional arts spaces. Its existence is having some impact on the productions and programming by mainstream arts organisations, as well as community groups. Luminate works with Glasgay on arts with an ageing LGBTI community and also engages with older BME communities in Scotland. It has an increasing geographic spread - many rural areas have increasing older populations.

Time to Shine - Scotland's National Youth Arts Strategy

Time to Shine was launched in November 2013 with the vision is to "support all of Scotland's children and young people to flourish and achieve in and through the arts and creativity". Young people's views were fundamental to the shaping of the strategy, and a national young people's advisory group (Youth Arts Voice Scotland) has been set up to ensure that young people play a key role in shaping delivery of the strategy. There is a strong focus on removing barriers to participation and enabling all young people to engage in the arts, regardless of background or geography. For example, the strategy recognises and aims to address BME underrepresentation in the arts, and barriers faced by young people who have disabilities or are from deprived backgrounds. In April 2014, £3.1 million of the Scottish Government's total £5 million support for Time Shine was allocated to establishing a network of nine regional Youth Arts Hubs in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highlands, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, Argyll & Bute, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Fife.

Young Scots Fund

The Scottish Government has been supporting the delivery of Young Innovators Challenge, which is a competition for Scotland's young people in training, further and higher education (Modern Apprentices, college or university) to submit ideas for innovative projects or businesses. The 2015 Challenge has a focus on social innovation and is backed by £247,500 from the Scottish Government (including £200,000 from the Young Scots Fund). It is designed to be inclusive, and entries and winners will be analysed regarding equality data gathered.

EARLY YEARS

Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland

Poverty is unevenly distributed throughout Scottish society, and some equality groups are particularly at risk. As women are more likely to work in part-time or low-paid jobs, be lone parents, or have caring responsibilities that limit their capacity for paid work, more women live in poverty. The risk of poverty is also higher for children in families affected by disability and in some ethnic minority communities. The revised Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland , published in March 2014, sets out actions designed to reduce levels of child poverty and improve outcomes for children growing up in poverty. It focuses on "the three Ps" - maximising household resources (Pockets), improving children's wellbeing and life chances (Prospects) and providing sustainable places (Places). It also includes, for the first time, a full outcomes framework, setting out key areas of activity in relation to these outcomes. The 2014 Annual Report includes a full measurement framework of 35 indicators.

Early Years Collaborative

The Early Years Collaborative is a national improvement programme intended to accelerate the pace of change to improve outcomes for children in the early years. The Scottish Government provides the overarching framework for improvement, but the stretch aims have been developed with Community Planning Partnerships and National Partners from the third sector. CPPs are responsible for identifying local level priorities and action, and a number of CPPs have undertaken small tests of change (there are over 400 across Scotland) that are beginning to lead to improved outcomes. For example, some tests of change include:

  • working with fathers who have committed domestic abuse, to modify their behaviour and have more positive family contact
  • engaging parents with English as an additional language so they are better able to be involved in their children's learning and development
  • maximising income for pregnant women.

Work in CPPs is progressing well towards achieving the stretch aim for Workstream 1 (reducing stillbirths and infant mortality) and we have statistics showing us our 'starting position' for Workstream 2 (27-30 month reviews). Estimated coverage for the 27-30 month review in 2013-14 was 73% of the eligible population, with 53% identified as having no concerns in the nine developmental areas. We are also continuing our investment in the Parenting Strategy and the Play Strategy, and will be monitoring the impact of both of these areas of work.

Expansion of statutory early learning and childcare

In a staged approach to expanding and improving early learning and childcare to 2 year olds, we prioritise those who are most vulnerable or disadvantaged, for example those who are looked after or under a kinship care order, those who are likely to be more disadvantaged as a result of parents having no sustainable employment and living in poverty, or those in low income families. We also make sure that expansion, most recently through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and statutory guidance, applies and is promoted to those children with additional support needs or a disability. In addition to the number of 2 year olds registered for early learning and childcare, annual national statistics indicate the number and percentages of young children registered for early learning and childcare whose home language is not English, or who have additional support needs or a co-ordinated support plan. Uptake of early learning and childcare by 2 year olds, including those in the groups identified, will continue to be monitored through the annual national schools statistical collection. The aim of the policy is also to support parents to work or study, which will have particular benefits for women.

EDUCATION, SKILLS AND EMPLOYMENT

Additional Support for Learning

The Scottish Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to support the provision of additional support to children and young people who experience barriers to learning arising from learning environment, health or disability, family circumstances, or social and emotional factors. Following consultation with stakeholders, in October 2014 the Scottish Government published Planning improvements for disabled pupils' access to education: Guidance for education authorities, independent and grant-aided schools . In its response to the Education Scotland report Making Sense: Education for Children and Young People with Dyslexia in Scotland , the Scottish Government supported the five recommendations and is working with relevant organisations, including Dyslexia Scotland, to discuss implementation and monitoring. In 2015 we plan to review the Code of Practice for Additional Support for Learning (publication expected in 2016) and publish guidance on children unable to attend school due to ill health.

Since the publication of the Doran Review in 2012, the Scottish Government has been taking forward a range of measures to improve the provision of learning support services for children and young people with complex additional support needs, a large proportion of whom are disabled. This work includes a National Strategic Commissioning Project, which aims to provide better outcomes for children and young people with complex additional support needs and will put the child at the centre of service provision. To encourage and facilitate participation and input from children, young people, families and carers, focus groups are organised mainly through existing support groups and services, including special schools. Views have also been gathered from:

  • funded service providers e.g. CALL Scotland (Communication and Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities), Scottish Sensory Centre and the seven grant-aided special schools
  • strategic stakeholders e.g. National Parent Forum for Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council
  • bodies currently involved in commissioning services i.e. local authorities and NHS Boards.

Scottish Ministers have duties to report to Parliament from 2011 to 2016 on the implementation of additional support for learning. The reports contain a wide range of statistical and qualitative information. The fourth report, published in April 2015, focuses on looked after children and young people.

Anti-bullying policy and prejudice-based bullying

The National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland's Children and Young People sets out the Scottish Government's position on anti-bullying, and in 2015-16 a stakeholder working group will review the Approach to ensure it remains current, reflects policy developments, is in line with the legal framework outlined in the Equality Act 2010, and captures findings from recent research, including the respect me research Bullying in Scotland 2014 . The Scottish Government wholly funds respect me, a national anti-bullying service to support all those working with children and young people. This service includes reviewing, formulating, implementing and evaluating local anti-bullying policies and providing training (including on prejudice-based bullying), information, and support with guidelines, procedures and monitoring. In providing the anti-bullying service respect me, the government seeks to support local authorities to ensure that prejudice-based bullying in schools is adequately covered in local policies. The service will continue to provide a holistic and inclusive approach to anti-bullying, which includes prejudice-based bullying and takes consideration of the protected characteristics. In 2015 Education Scotland plans to work in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to conduct research and pilots in schools to establish, through the use of improvement methodology, what anti-bullying strategies work to tackle prejudice-based bullying effectively in schools.

In 2013 the Scottish Government published Guidance on Developing Policies to Promote the Safe and Responsible Use of Mobile Technology in Schools , which provides advice for local authorities and schools on how to develop appropriate policies on the use of mobile technology whilst protecting staff, children and young people from the harassment and abuse that can arise from its misuse. The Scottish Government funded a respect me national conference in May 2014 to improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of adults on how gender inequality is impacting on children and young people today. Through partnership working, this aims to promote awareness of gender-based bullying and challenge accepted behaviour, attitudes and relationships so as to reduce sexual violence amongst young people, and reduce its impact on children and young people in school.

Curriculum for Excellence

Curriculum for Excellence aims to provide the right environment to enable all young people to develop as informed and responsible citizens with a knowledge of Scotland and its place in the world, and an understanding of different beliefs and cultures. Citizenship education is at the heart of the curriculum and addresses issues such as human rights, sustainable development, peace and conflict resolution, social equality and appreciation of diversity. Recognising and realising children's rights in school and youth work contexts, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, is promoted nationally by Education Scotland, who have developed resources which aim to promote rights-based values, attitudes, skills and practices among those adults who have a duty of care for children and young people, including teachers.

Developing Board Experience

The Public Bodies Unit commissioned the Institute of Directors to take forward work to allow prospective women board members to gain insight into the realities of board membership, with a view to encouraging future applications and thus increasing gender diversity. By December 2014, just over a year after its start, 14 women had participated in the project, of which 12 were with public or third sector boards. Feedback has been very positive, with a significant degree of learning gained and all of those responding to an evaluation exercise indicating that they would recommend the experience. The project will be extended for a further year and consideration given to identified challenges, such as encouraging wider participation by the private sector. Public Bodies Unit will also explore opportunities to build on the project alongside the work being undertaken by the Scottish Leaders Forum.

Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan

Scotland's Digital Future sets out our vision for Scotland to be a world-class digital nation with next generation broadband available to all by 2020, and with the highest rate of uptake among the UK nations by 2015. Over the last year we have made encouraging progress, notably through laying over 1,800 kilometres of cabling and building over 400 fibre-enabled cabinets; providing support and advice on connectivity through Community Broadband Scotland to approximately 760 premises in remote and rural areas; and supporting housing associations in Glasgow and Edinburgh to prototype affordable broadband services to digitally excluded tenants.

Digital Participation

The Digital Participation Strategy, A National Framework for Local Action (April 2014) aims to reduce inequality across civic society by encouraging the most digitally excluded to embrace the opportunities offered by the internet for online public services, paying bills, accessing information, applying for jobs and communicating with family and friends. Not everybody is equipped to do this without support: relatively low levels of digital participation are seen amongst the elderly, the unemployed, those on low incomes, those with poor educational attainment and people living in social housing. A core part of the Strategy is the development of basic digital literacy skills to help people from vulnerable groups to gain confidence when using the internet. Assisted Digital Services will support people who are not able to access public services online in person. Third parties delivering this service will be required to meet specified standards of competence and security.

Energy Skills Scotland

In May 2013 we launched Energy Skills Scotland ( ESS) with a budget of £6.5 million for 2012-14 to simplify access to the range of energy skills resources and support across the public sector. Through Skills Development Scotland, ESS continues to work to boost collaboration between employers, academia and education to meet the future industry skills demands. In encouraging new talent, ESS is specifically supporting more women and young people to consider a career in the energy sector.

Fair Work Convention

The First Minister confirmed in the Programme for Government that we would establish a Fair Work Convention. The Convention will prioritise the promotion of the living wage, but have a wider role, championing a partnership approach between government, businesses, the trade unions, the third sector and local government. It will therefore contribute to our work to tackle the gender pay gap and occupational segregation. Such an approach recognises that sustainable growth has a social dimension; that fairness supports and underpins long-term prosperity. The Convention will provide independent advice to the Scottish Government on matters relating to innovative and productive workplaces, industrial relations, fair work and the Living Wage in Scotland to support the Scottish Government's objective to reduce inequality, promote diversity and equality and increase sustainable economic growth.

Free School Meals

We are taking a long-term approach to tackling poverty and income inequality, in an effort to remove the barriers that stand in the way of individuals realising their full potential. The introduction of free school meals for all Primary 1-3 children from January 2015 represents a saving for families of around £330 per child per year and is expected to benefit around 135,000 children across Scotland. It will play an important role in improving attainment in schools, through offering healthy and nutritious lunches that will help children achieve their best in class. Following agreement with COSLA, the Scottish Government is providing revenue funding of £70.5 million over two years, supported with additional capital funding for local government of £24.8 million to ensure demand is met.

Free University Education

We are continuing to deliver free higher education in Scotland.

Insight benchmarking tool for schools and local authorities

In 2014 the Scottish Government launched an online benchmarking tool for schools and local authorities to use to compare, analyse and improve the learning outcomes of pupils in the senior phase. Insight (previously known as the Senior Phase Benchmarking Tool) will help local authorities and secondary schools to analyse strengths and areas for improvement in raising attainment for all, whilst closing the attainment gap between pupils from different social backgrounds. Insight benchmarking measures include: increasing post-school participation; improving attainment in literacy and numeracy; improving attainment for all; and tackling disadvantage through "closing the gap" in attainment within different parts of the pupil population.

The Living Wage

Evidence suggests that those most likely to receive low pay are women, young people, older workers, people without qualifications, some minority ethnic communities, lone parents and disabled people. Since 2011-12, everyone who is covered by the Scottish Government public sector pay policy or works for the NHS is paid at least the Living Wage. The Scottish Government has provided funding for the Poverty Alliance to administer the Living Wage Accreditation Initiative in Scotland, in an effort to increase the number of organisations paying the Living Wage. The Poverty Alliance delivers information sessions to employers across the country, develops promotional materials, and provides general advice and support on the Living Wage.

Maintenance support to the poorest students

An Education Maintenance Allowance ( EMA) supports eligible young people aged 16-19 from low income families across Scotland, to overcome financial barriers to remain in education and encourage young people to attain a higher level of education. EMA is an entitlement of £30 per week to qualifying applicants who meet the established criteria.

Making Advice Work

Established for 2013-15, the Making Advice Work ( MAW) Programme is funded by the Scottish Government (£5.1 million) and Money Advice Scotland (£2.35 million). It is administered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board ( SLAB) and has funded 72 projects to date. The focus is on improving access to advice by supporting organisations that help people in Scotland facing debt and other problems stemming from UK Government welfare reforms and the ongoing impact of the economic downturn. One of the Programme's three streams aims to tackle barriers in accessing advice or to test new ways of resolving problems related to debt, financial management and social welfare law for disabled people and people experiencing domestic abuse. In January 2014, the Scottish Government provided further funding of £280,000 to support additional projects under this stream.

Managing School Exclusions

Annual statistics indicate that boys, disabled pupils, pupils from some minority ethnic groups, learners who are looked after, have additional support needs, and/or are from areas of deprivation are amongst those more likely to be excluded. Providing further support to schools to take a proactive approach to preventing and managing exclusions should positively impact these groups. In September 2014 the Scottish Government set up a national expert working group to refresh its guidance, Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2 (IEI2), which focuses on prevention, early intervention and response to individual need, incorporating staged interventions to prevent problems escalating. The refreshed guidance will be issued for consultation later in 2015. The Scottish Government funds PINS (Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland) to provide support to those working with Scotland's most vulnerable and marginalised children and young people who are at risk of becoming disengaged or excluded from education. In 2012, 45% of members represented voluntary sector organisations, including Shakti Women's Aid and Show Racism the Red Card.

Modern Apprenticeships

Under-representation in our Modern Apprenticeship Programme is a key priority for the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) to address, in partnership with industry and delivery partners. However, the issues cannot be solved easily by simply changing provision; we must look at how we can challenge career perceptions and choices from an early stage to ensure individuals make informed choices. This forms part of our National Programme for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce ( DSYW) and our Programme for Government.

Parental Engagement policy

Evidence shows that children and young people who have at least one parent or carer engaged in their education have better outcomes. We are taking a range of actions at a national level to promote and support parental engagement in learning in schools and early learning and childcare settings, including the engagement of those whose children may be disadvantaged due to protected characteristics. These actions include the continued involvement of the National Parent Forum of Scotland to ensure that the views of a range of parents are represented at a national and local level, and joint work with and support to a range of organisations that support the wider parent body, including those from ethnic minority groups.

Partnership for Change commitment - 50:50 by 2020

The Government is committed to making boards more representative of the communities and customers they serve. This will enable wider access to talent and it will improve board governance, decision making and performance. In the Scottish Government's Programme for Government published in November 2014, we have committed to launching the Partnership for Change, bringing together an alliance of organisations across the public, private and third sectors, who are committed to increasing the diversity of boards and the talent pipeline to work towards gender balance - 50:50 by 2020.

Raising Attainment

The attainment gap between children and young people who are most and least advantaged exists for many complex reasons and a variety of factors, including gender and disability, can contribute. The Raising Attainment For All Programme is working with over 180 schools across Scotland to drive forward sustainable and consistent improvement, and the £1.5 million Access to Education Fund aims to reduce the barriers to learning experienced by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Children's University helps develop children's aspirations, with a clear link to widening access to higher education and a strong focus on improving attainment in disadvantaged communities, and in 2014-16 the Scottish Government is providing £90,000 to help it expand into more areas across Scotland.

In March 2015, we launched the first of a series of Children and Young People's Regional Summits where over 100 children and young people from primary and secondary schools across Scotland came together to discuss their views on educational attainment, participation, children's rights and social justice. We are working in close partnership with third sector organisations to ensure these events are fully inclusive of all children including those with additional support needs, Gypsy/Travellers and looked after children.

Relationships, sexual health and parenthood education

Following stakeholder engagement, in December 2014 the Scottish Government published revised guidance for teachers on the conduct of teaching relationships, sexual health and parenthood education ( RSHP), to acknowledge that, as a result of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, both opposite-sex and same-sex couples can marry. The intention is that RSHP education should be inclusive of, and responsive to, all, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Scotland's Schools for the Future Programme

Scotland's Schools for the Future Programme is intended to help education authorities replace or refurbish those schools that are in the worst condition, and is part of the Scottish Government's aim of ensuring that all children are educated in high quality, modern school buildings. Following the budget statement in October 2014, the Programme has been extended from £1.25 to £1.8 billion (£1.13 billion from government; £670 million from local authorities). To receive funding, local authorities must demonstrate that, among other things, their projects are 'inclusive' in terms of buildings that are fully accessible to disabled people and education provision that is accessible for pupils with additional support needs. When complete in 2020, it is expected that 110 schools will have been rebuilt or refurbished, lifting around 60,000 pupils out of school accommodation deemed as being in poor or bad condition.

Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy

In its June 2014 report, the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce made a number of recommendations relating to equalities issues in education and employment, with a focus on gender, race, disability and care leavers. Developing the Young Workforce - Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy , set up in response to the Commission, is underpinned by a seven-year national programme with a headline aim of reducing current levels of youth unemployment by 40% by 2021. The strategy's 11 Key Performance Indicators ( KPIs) include a range of equality ambitions in gender, ethnicity, and the needs of young people leaving care, such as:

  • increasing the minority gender share in the largest and most imbalanced college superclasses by 2021
  • increasing the number of Modern Apprenticeship ( MA) starts from minority ethnic communities to equal the population share by 2021
  • increasing the employment rate for young disabled people to the population average by 2021.

The report makes a number of specific recommendations on how employers' contributions to the equality recommendations can be harnessed and these provided a strong starting point to our engagement with business. The plan also sets out a number of measures aimed at tackling inequalities and encouraging systemic change, for example:

  • Together with action to maximise the support offered to young disabled students and care leavers in learning, the Scottish Funding Council is working with Skills Development Scotland and other key stakeholders to develop a plan to address gender imbalance across further and higher education, with a view to inform outcome agreements for 2016-17
  • Secondary school inspection of active gender targeting in relation to college based learning and foundation apprenticeships, to begin in 2016-17.

The Scottish Government allocated an additional £12 million for 2014-15 and £16.6 million in 2015-16 to enable partners to build capacity and test out new approaches. Skills Development Scotland will begin to improve representation and identify best practice through pilot projects such as:

  • Targeted projects looking to get more care leavers into Modern Apprenticeships with Who Cares Scotland, Action for Children Scotland, Barnardos and Quarriers
  • Work to encourage more young women into construction MAs with industry representatives, supported by Equate
  • Partnership project in West Lothian to encourage women into STEM subjects
  • Work with Barnardos, Remploy and training providers to support disabled people to take up and sustain MA and Employability Fund opportunities
  • Projects with BEMIS and Rathbone to increase the participation of those from minority ethnic groups.

The Scottish Government used the Commission's equality impact assessment for the strategy and implementation plan. Further EQIAs will be produced and will be reviewed throughout the life of the programme, alongside our commitment to publish an annual report on progress.

Scottish Business Pledge

The overarching Scottish Business Pledge invites companies to support company and inclusive growth by committing to innovation, internationalisation, paying the living wage, playing an active role in their local communities and supporting Invest in Youth.

Widening Access to University Education

The Programme for Government (PfG) sets out a clear ambition that a child born today should have not just a better chance but an equal chance of attending university, such that, in time, 20% of university entrants would come from the most deprived 20% of society. The PfG sets out three key actions: introduction of a target for participation in higher education; setting up a Commission on Widening Access to advise on meaningful targets, milestones and activities to accelerate progress; and providing £2 million in 2015-16 to double the funding available for local widening access initiatives through the Scottish Funding Council's ( SFC) Impact for Access Fund (one of a suite of initiatives to widen access funded by the SFC).

Women's Employment

Since the Women's Employment Summit in 2012, there has been a strong cross-government focus on action to increase economic opportunities for women. The Strategic Group on Women and Work, chaired by Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women's Employment, was set up to monitor and advise on the Scottish Government's progress across devolved policy to enable more women to participate and meet their potential in the labour market. Action includes Programme for Government commitments to work towards an increase of free childcare, and the '50:50 by 2020' commitment, which aims to encourage all the private, public and third sector organisations in Scotland to increase diversity of boards. The Women in Enterprise Action Framework is being implemented to support more women to start their own businesses, and equality commitments in Developing the Young Workforce - Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy aim to tackle gender segregation in learning.

HEALTH

2020 Vision

We remain committed to the 2020 Vision for health and social care, ensuring our healthcare system is able to adapt to the changing needs of the people of Scotland. The Vision is designed to empower service users; drive service improvement and enhance understanding of equality issues. It will provide the opportunity to improve the quality of care and level of protection for all service users. The Cabinet Secretary has committed to develop a 10-15 year plan for health and social care that describes how future services will look. Broad agreement on the plan and key themes will be prepared by autumn 2015, following participation and engagement with a wide range of public and professional stakeholders.

2020 Workforce Vision - Everyone Matters

Everyone Matters: 2020 Workforce Vision Implementation Framework and Plan 2014-15 was published in December 2013, and the 2015-16 Implementation Plan on 3 November 2014. The Vision applies to all staff delivering healthcare. Through this work we are focusing on the workforce-related matters that need to change by 2020 in order to deliver against the wider 2020 Vision and Quality Ambitions. The intended impact is that all staff should be valued, treated well and supported to give their best, which in turn improves patient care and overall outcomes. The five priorities for action are: healthy organisational culture; sustainable workforce; capable workforce; integrated workforce; and effective leadership and management.

Carers Strategy

Each part of the Carers and Young Carers Strategy for Scotland, Caring Together and Getting it Right for Young Carers (2010-2015) , contains stand-alone chapters on equality and cultural competence, establishing at the outset the importance of identifying and supporting carers and young carers within equality groups. The Scottish Government works in partnership with National Carers Organisations, which support carers across the equality groups.

Guidance to NHS Boards on Carers Information Strategy ( CIS) funding includes, as one of the priorities, income maximisation and financial inclusion for carers and young carers. For 2008-15, CIS funding amounts to nearly £29 million. This has been allocated locally for a range of local initiatives, for example the South Lanarkshire Carers Network, which employs Welfare Rights Officers who have a focus on financial inclusion for carers. This type of support provision is particularly relevant to women and older people, who are more likely to have longer-term and more intensive caring roles. An audit tool was developed by the Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People's Project ( MECOPP), with funding from the Scottish Government Carers Branch. Its aim is to build the capacity of Health Boards and other stakeholders to deliver a more culturally competent service, which identifies and responds to the specific needs of ethnic minority carers, including young carers. It has the additional benefit of assisting the statutory sector to meet its legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Carers Branch has also supported a project in Scotland to identify and support carers from Gypsy/Traveller communities.

Through the Short Breaks Fund, the Scottish Government is investing more than £14 million (administered through the voluntary sector) in short breaks between 2010 and 2015 for carers and young carers. A large portion of this, over £8 million, is specifically for disabled children up to the age of 20 and their parent carers.

In fulfilment of a manifesto commitment, on 12 June 2014 the Scottish Government launched the Carer Positive Kitemark to encourage employers to be more carer friendly. The kitemark recognises employers who have a working environment where carers are valued and supported, while at the same time helping to address concerns about occupational segregation. We have funded NHS Education for Scotland ( NES) and the Scottish Social Services Council ( SSSC), who have produced the Equal Partners in Care (EPiC) core principles. This aims to increase workforce knowledge and skills, and will help to ensure that carers and young carers across all communities play an equal and active role in care planning and decisions.

Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation: A Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland

The Strategy aims to reduce smoking to less than 5% by 2034, thereby creating a healthier, fairer Scotland. Tobacco use is far more prevalent in deprived areas (using the Scottish Index for Multiple Deprivation, 39% in SIMD1 compared to 11% in SIMD5) and is associated with a range of health inequalities.

Family Nurse Partnership Programme

The Family Nurse Partnership Programme is offered universally to all eligible women (aged 19 and under at conception, first-time mothers, living within the geographical reach of the programme) where the local team(s) have capacity. The Programme has expanded and is now delivered in nine Health Board areas. It works on behaviour change and is aimed at reducing health inequalities in each of the following areas:

  • pregnancy and birth outcomes
  • child health and development
  • economic self-sufficiency of the family

Young women from the most deprived areas ( SIMD quintiles) are up to 12 times more likely to keep their babies than those in the least deprived. We use this as a measure of whether or not we are reaching the sections of the population most in need.

Focus on Dementia Programme

People with dementia face widespread discrimination for a number of reasons, including significant misunderstanding and stigma. Because most people with dementia are over the age of 65 they can also face issues of age discrimination, and people with dementia may not have the capacity to challenge abuses of their human rights or to report what has occurred. This means that many people with dementia and their carers face a poorer quality of life than the general population. A partnership improvement programme between Scottish Government, QuEST, Joint Improvement Team and Alzheimer Scotland is carrying out work to improve the experience, safety and co-ordination of care for people with dementia in acute care and in the community, from timely diagnosis through to post-diagnostic support for people at all stages of their disease. Themes of humanity and equality underpin this work.

Learning Disability

The Keys to Life, Scotland's second learning disability strategy, was launched in June 2013. Some people with learning disabilities still do not enjoy the fair and equal treatment that signifies acceptance in society. People with learning disabilities express a desire for paid employment, however they remain under-represented in Scotland's workforce and employers fail to provide the support necessary for sustainable employment. For Scotland to prosper it needs employment opportunities that are fair and equal, and statutory organisations have the opportunity to lead by example through employing more people with learning disabilities. The Scottish Consortium for Learning Disabilities is running Project Search in a number of locations in Scotland. Project Search is a supported employment programme to help young disabled people find and keep a job. In addition, Falkirk Council is currently being funded by the Scottish Government Employability Policy and Learning Disability teams to develop a local model of supported employment with local employers.

Stark health inequalities for people with learning disabilities can lead to early or avoidable deaths. That is why The Keys to Life focuses on health issues. The health service must recognise the particular health needs of people with learning disabilities, and respond appropriately and positively. An attitudinal and cultural shift is also required to bring about healthier and happier lives. The Scottish Government has seconded a Learning Disabilities Professional Advisor to support the implementation of the health recommendations. The Professional Advisor has been working with Public Health leads in NHS Boards and the Learning Disabilities Observatory to establish a way of capturing data on the services people with learning disabilities access, in order to understand their health needs, improve services, address health inequalities, and reduce avoidable deaths for people with learning disabilities.

People with learning disabilities tell us that friendship is important to their health, wellbeing and quality of life, and The Keys to Life aims to enable people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own community. Only when people with learning disabilities are seen as equals will they participate in their communities without fear of hate crime. Funded by the Scottish Government, a programme of friendship events was launched by Equal Futures and partners in January 2014. The events throughout Scotland are planned to encourage people with learning disabilities to meet new friends and form relationships.

Independent Living Fund Scotland

Independent Living Fund Scotland ( ILF Scotland) is being co-produced with disabled people, organisations representing them and with statutory sector partners. This will contribute towards the Government's commitment to independent living and to giving disabled people of all ages the freedom, choice, dignity and control to live independent lives at home, at work and in their community. The UK ILF will close on 30 June 2015 and work is progressing for the ILF payments made to all existing Scottish users to continue, by transferring them to ILF Scotland on 1 July 2015. ILF payments offer disabled people the flexibility they may not otherwise have to live in their own home, take up employment or education, and to socialize like other citizens.

Teenage Pregnancy and Young Parent Strategy

The Scottish Government is developing a new Teenage Pregnancy and Young Parenting Strategy (expected later in 2015), which will seek to continue good progress in reducing teenage pregnancies while also supporting young parents.

HOUSING

Affordable Housing Supply Programme

The provision of affordable homes is a vital part of our drive to secure economic growth, promote social justice, strengthen communities and tackle inequality. The Affordable Housing Supply Programme ( AHSP) is a continuous programme, and the current target is to deliver over 6,000 affordable homes, of which at least 4,000 will be for social rent, each year over the lifetime of this Parliament. This target is backed up with investment of £1.7 billion, primarily focussed on those on lower incomes, with evidence suggesting that this often includes those with protected characteristics. Local authorities are required by law to prepare a local housing strategy, supported by an assessment of housing need and demand. The statutory duty requires need to be considered in respect of the protected characteristics.

Bedroom Tax Compensation

The 'removal of the spare room subsidy' is currently resulting in Housing Benefit reductions for over 70,000 households in Scotland (86% had one spare bedroom (14% Reduction), 14% had two or more (25% reduction)). In August 2014, the Scottish Government Family Resources Survey estimated that 80% of the households affected contain a disabled adult and 10,900 households contain one or more children. In addition to the £20 million it allocated in 2013-14, the Scottish Government is providing local authorities with £70 million over the period 2014-16 for full mitigation of the bedroom tax through Discretionary Housing Payments ( DHPs). A report by Prof. Steve Fothergill for the Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee found that Scottish Government mitigation activity significantly alleviated the impact of welfare reform on the worst affected wards in Scotland, and reduced the differences between the worst and least affected wards.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme

As part of the UK Government's welfare reform programme, Council Tax Benefit was abolished in April 2013 and responsibility for future support transferred to Scottish Ministers, along with a 10% cut in funding. The Council Tax Reduction Scheme set out in secondary legislation a national schedule of reliefs, to be administered by local authorities as reductions to individuals' Council Tax liabilities, in order to ensure that no individual is disadvantaged by the abolition of CTB. An equality impact assessment identified positive impacts concerning age, disability and gender, based on comparisons to potential policy alternatives. We are currently finalising a revised EQIA following full year statistical publications and data collected since the scheme became operational.

Fuel Poverty Strategy

Older and disabled households are represented in significant numbers amongst the fuel poor. The Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum's remit is to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, no-one is living in fuel poverty by November 2016. The Forum's interim report in May 2012 led to the introduction of Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland ( HEEPS) in April 2013. Equality organisations are represented on the Forum and are consulted on the development of new programmes; they were involved in assessing the annual bids from local authorities to ensure that the HEEPS programmes target appropriate client groups. The Fuel Poverty Forum's final report (published March 2014) recommended that the Scottish Government develop stronger connections between fuel poverty measures and health and other social benefits. In response, the Scottish Government has facilitated links between Home Energy Scotland ( HES) and the Link Worker Programme. It is intended that this will lead to a referral mechanism being put in place, which will allow HES to reach out to vulnerable people who may not otherwise have contacted HES, providing them with easy access to help that addresses both their practical and physical needs. Again the equality groups on the forum were involved in developing the workplan and in the delivery of the actions. This workplan is programmed to be part of a health inequalities impact assessment by the Health member of the Forum to ensure that the actions have no unintended consequences.

Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland

The UK Government's Affordable Warmth Scheme places an obligation on energy companies ( ECO) to provide heating measures in people's homes. To mitigate the impact of ECO changes on vulnerable groups, from April 2014 we directed eligible clients to our HEEPS: Energy Assistance Scheme ( EAS) first, and Affordable Warmth referrals ceased on 1 April 2015. Over the past five years EAS has provided over 46,000 vulnerable households with heating and/or insulation measures. Our HEEPS programmes particularly help reduce expenditure on energy for older people, disabled people and households with children under 5 that are living in fuel poverty. Following consultation with stakeholders, we have announced a contract worth up to £224 million over seven years for the delivery of a national fuel poverty scheme from 2015, which will build on the success of the EAS.

Sustainable Housing Strategy

Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy has the HEEPS: Energy Assistance Scheme at its heart, and brings together policies on climate change, energy efficiency, fuel poverty, planning and the built environment. An equality impact assessment concludes that all social tenants, including those with protected characteristics, are likely to benefit from the new Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing ( EESSH).

Help to Adapt

The Help to Adapt pilot was launched in early April 2015. The scheme is designed to make it easier and safer for older people to use the equity in their homes to pay for adaptations such as ramps, door widening, door-entry phones, relocated switches or plugs, stair lifts, through-floor lifts, handrails, and adapted kitchens, showers, toilets and/or bathrooms. Homeowners aged 60 or over will be able to apply for a loan of up to £30,000 to pay for adaptations, with no monthly interest charges or compound interest. The loan is repaid when the homeowner sells the house or the homeowner dies, with the amount repaid being linked to the value of the house. As well as conducting an equality impact assessment, we consulted with Age Scotland's Housing Panels, organisations such as Capability, Housing Options Scotland, members of the Adapting for Change Advisory Group and the National Islamic Bank. Membership of the Help to Adapt project board included the Chief Executive of Housing Options Scotland (an organisation that provides a housing options advice service for older people, disabled people and veterans). The scheme is expected to be of particular benefit to people with protected characteristics:

  • Age: the scheme is specifically targeted at helping older people live at home and maintain their independence
  • Disabled people: the scheme will help older disabled people to live at home and maintain their independence (over 60% of people aged 60+ have a long standing illness, health problem or disability)
  • Religion/belief: having a Sharia-compliant product will help advance equality of opportunity for Muslims.

Help to Buy

Help to Buy (Scotland) helps people on any income to buy a new-build home up to the value of £250,000 from participating house-builders, which will help homeowners, boost the construction industry in Scotland, increase overall housing supply and support wider economic growth. The scheme has potentially positive impacts on some groups with protected characteristics, who tend to be over-represented in lower income households, and specifically characteristics related to age, disability and sex. Scheme monitoring information is collected and is being collated to allow us to examine particular impacts on self-identifying members of these groups.

JUSTICE

Cashback for Communities

Cashback for Communities is a unique Scottish Government programme that invests funds recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in community projects, facilities and activities largely, but not exclusively, for young people at risk of turning to crime and anti-social behaviour. Work to enhance employability, education or health can improve life chances and thereby increase equality.

Domestic Abuse and Sexual Offences

Around one in seven adults in Scotland report having been a victim of domestic abuse, be it in the form of physical violence, threat, coercion or control. Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on victims and children. Of the 60,000 incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police in 2012-13, 80% had a female victim and a male perpetrator. There were 8,604 sexual crimes reported to Police Scotland in 2013-14, an increase of 12% on the previous year. This included 1,808 alleged incidents of rape (+24%) and 3,405 sexual assaults (+13%).

The Justice system and law enforcement agencies have made significant progress in tackling domestic abuse and sexual offences in recent years. The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2010 reformed the previous law and created a range of new statutory offences. Victims of domestic abuse and sexual offences are now more confident in reporting their experiences. Following commitments in the 2014-15 Programme for Government, the Scottish Government will consult on introducing a new specific criminal offence of committing domestic abuse. Although incidents of domestic abuse can be prosecuted under existing laws, a new specific offence could better reflect the true nature of abuse, including ongoing controlling and coercive behaviour by partners or former partners. The Government will also consult on creating a new specific offence covering the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. The Government will bring together leading academics to establish and communicate a clear understanding of the extent and nature of domestic abuse in Scotland and to share evidence of what works to prevent and reduce harm. The Scottish Government is also working with Police Scotland and other relevant bodies to draw on the lessons from the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse pilots, recently launched in Aberdeen and Ayrshire, and to assist Police Scotland in considering whether this approach - making available information about the previous abusive behaviour of a partner - should be extended more widely to help prevent the risk of harm.

National Confidential Forum

The establishment of the National Confidential Forum ( NCF) forms part of the wider Scottish Government SurvivorScotland Strategy. The NCF will give adults who were placed in institutional care as children the opportunity to recount their experiences, including those of abuse and neglect, in a confidential and non-judgemental setting. The NCF will proactively work to ensure all groups in society are able to participate and that the demographic profile of children placed in institutional care, over the whole period from which the NCF will hear experiences, is reflected in that participation.

  • Age: the NCF will provide older people with an opportunity to share experiences which may previously have been very difficult to disclose and which, if they were disclosed, may not have received an appropriate response. To counteract stigmatising and stereotyping of children in care and young care leavers, the NCF will contribute to the public discourse and record of institutional care in Scotland, helping to provide a balanced and informed view of that care and how it has developed over the last century. This will in turn help children and young people in care today and in the future feel that the full range of their experiences is known and understood.
  • Disabled people will be supported to participate in ways which are informed by their particular needs.
  • Gender: The NCF is grounded in a policy which appreciates the gender dimensions of being placed in care as a child and the implications of this for sharing those experiences, in particular the disclosure of abuse. The NCF will ensure that those gender dimensions are taken into account both in proactively enabling access to women and men and in offering an appropriate and sensitive context for both women and men to share their experiences.
  • Race: The NCF will offer an opportunity to explore the race dimensions of institutional child care provision over a period when the ethnic diversity of Scotland has changed significantly.

Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland's Communities

The Scottish Government has committed £9 million in 2013-15 to support 44 community-based projects in their efforts to tackle sectarianism. The interim report from the independent Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland, published in December 2013, highlighted the role of human rights, equality and good relations in tackling sectarianism, specifically the potential for using the good relations work developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission as a way of developing this agenda. A Scottish Government response was published on 28 February 2014 and a final report from the Advisory Group is expected in 2015.

To complement our project work, and to build a robust evidence base for our work on tackling sectarianism, we have published a summary of the empirical evidence on sectarianism; we are analysing information on religiously aggravated offences under Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 on an annual basis; we have extended the data collected in key national surveys, such as the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey and the Scottish Household Survey; and we will evaluate Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 to determine the impact this is having on tackling football-related hateful, threatening or offensive behaviour likely to cause disorder. In addition we have commissioned research on the impact of marches and parades on local communities.

Women Offenders (including the Reducing Reoffending Change Fund)

Research affirms that women who offend commonly have needs and circumstances that are distinct from those of male offenders, and there is a need to provide policies and processes within the justice system to address gender specific issues. The Commission on Women Offenders ( CWO) was established in June 2011 with a remit to consider the evidence on how to improve outcomes for women in the criminal justice system; to make recommendations for practical measures to reduce their reoffending and reverse the increase in the female prisoner population. Since publication of the CWO Report in April 2012, the Scottish Government has worked with partners to implement its recommendations. As well as the existing range of community sentences, diversion from prosecution and other community based services, development grant funding of £3 million has been allocated for the period 2013-15 to support 16 projects delivering new or enhanced services for women offenders in communities across Scotland. The women's centres and services are designed to reflect the CWO's aspiration for person-centred provision of services to reduce reoffending.

The Reducing Reoffending Change Fund ( RRCF) is supporting mentoring services to around 700 women offenders a year across Scotland through the Shine Public Social Partnership. The Shine service is delivered nationally by a partnership of third sector organisations led by Sacro, and received £2.7 million from the RRCF in 2013-15. Funding has also been issued to support work with women offenders by the award-winning mentoring programme delivered by Tayside Council on Alcohol, and an innovative programme from Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire, which matches voluntary mentors with offenders. The RRCF has been extended to 2015-17 to continue to support these offender mentoring programmes.

The Scottish Prison Service ( SPS) is developing a strategy for the management of women in custody, which will set out how it proposes to work with women to address their complex needs and prepare them for a productive life in the community. In January 2015 the Scottish Government decided that, instead of pursuing proposals for a new national prison for women, it will seek to establish a more radical and progressive approach to how women offenders are dealt with in the Scottish criminal justice system. Scottish Government officials and the SPS will undertake a period of extensive engagement with key partners to devise a new configuration of custodial facilities for women across Scotland, based on smaller regional and community custodial facilities across the country. Ongoing work to support the development of community justice services for women and the appropriate use of alternatives to remand and custody will continue in co-ordination with this approach.

RURAL AFFAIRS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Climate Challenge Fund

The Climate Challenge Fund ( CCF) monitors project awards according to a number of indicators, including its reach in areas of deprivation. Slightly higher numbers of awards were made in more advantaged areas; however higher value awards were made in the most disadvantaged areas. A refresh of the Fund in November 2012 aimed at reaching a wider variety of community groups and established a Junior Climate Challenge Fund ( JCCF), under which 13 awards, totalling nearly £920,000, have been made to community groups led by young people up to age 21. However, a number of previously funded CCF projects also focused to varying degrees on young people and, when these are included, the total value of awards with young people's involvement rises to £2.6 million. Keep Scotland Beautiful, which manages the Climate Challenge Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government, has sought support from CEMVO on engagement with ethnic minority groups. This work includes the development of an ethnic minority network to identify shared issues and areas of potential support. Young Scot provides similar support in relation to the JCCF. Due to unprecedented demand for funding support, the funds available to both CCF and JCCF are now fully allocated and both are closed to new applications.

Climate Justice

Climate justice puts human rights at the centre of decisions on development, sharing equitably the risks of climate change and the benefits of the low carbon economy. We are committed to promoting climate justice, both at home and abroad, through Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights. Our innovative £6 million Climate Justice Fund helps to redress the imbalance of impacts created by climate change. The Fund particularly invited projects that empowered women and the vulnerable in accessing their rights to water resources, and now has 11 projects operating in four Sub-Saharan African Countries (Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia). We have provided £200,000 to support the 2020 Group, Glasgow Caledonian University, Keep Scotland Beautiful and SolarAid climate justice initiative: Scotland Lights Up Malawi.

Our Place in Time

The 2014 Strategy Our Place in Time seeks to ensure that Scotland's historic environment is understood, protected and valued for the benefit of all. Prepared collaboratively, the Strategy provides a common vision to drive forward mainstreaming of the historic environment in all relevant areas of policy, for example skills and youth employment. One of the Strategy working groups is specifically considering the theme of 'participation', which will be of importance for widening access to heritage for all.

Scottish Rural Development Programme ( SRDP)

The SRDP 2014-20 will deliver Pillar 2 of the EU Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP), which funds economic, environmental and social measures for the benefit of rural Scotland. Co-funded by the European Commission and the Scottish Government, the key purpose of the SRDP 2014-20 is to help achieve sustainable economic growth in Scotland's rural areas. Equality issues were considered as part of both the design and consultation process. SRDP measures cover a range of issues to benefit rural Scotland and have the potential to address equality issues, such as support for broadband, and sharing knowledge and best practice. The application process for specific sectoral schemes will be made simpler to improve access for all, with support offered to applications which deliver the best local and national outcomes. For example, start-up grants for young farmers (up to the age of 40) and a scheme for farmers of small holdings. However, the equality impact assessment also identified ways in which the SRDP could better meet the needs of equality groups. These include improving the evidence base on the beneficiaries of grants with protected characteristics, as part of a review of the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme; better targeting of LEADER on social inclusion outcomes; and further consideration of the age profile of farmers in acknowledgment of the accessibility issues associated with using technology.

Scottish Rural Development Programme - LEADER

Part of the Scotland Rural Development Programme ( SRDP), LEADER aims to build social and economic capital by employing a grassroots, partnership approach to identify local needs and puts forward innovative, local solutions to aid rural development across Scotland. LEADER Groups are a partnership of representatives with local enterprise companies, rural businesses, public agencies and community groups working together to achieved shared local aims. In the last SRDP (2007-2013) LEADER funded over 2,100 projects, with over £67 million for community-led projects. The new programme expects to deliver about £83 million and we are very keen that all groups in our rural communities are able to participate in the shaping of local proposals. This includes proactive engagement with hard to reach groups. Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development is a key LEADER priority, and we are asking for this to be monitored locally. All 21 Local Development Strategies across Scotland must have an equality policy to ensure inclusion of all groups in rural development decision making.

SPORT AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Active Schools / National Active Girls Programme

The £50 million investment into the Active Schools Network through sportscotland over the next four years (2015-19) will help build on the significant progress which has already been made in school sport. In recognition of lower levels of participation amongst some groups, Active Schools has a focus on girls through the Active Girls programmes, and on pupils with additional support needs.

Commonwealth Games

The Scottish Government's overall vision for the Games was to host a successful, safe and secure Games that would deliver a lasting legacy for the whole of Scotland. An equality impact assessment highlighted a number of positive impacts resulting from the work of the Scottish Government Commonwealth Games Delivery Team, including additional changing facilities and accessible toilets and lifts. The EQIA also helped identify further opportunities for continued communication with equality groups. The Scottish Government worked with the Organising Committee ( OC) and the BIG Lottery fund to develop a £500,000 Volunteer Support Fund, to support volunteering among socially and economically disadvantaged young people and lone parents, rurally isolated people, and people from minority ethnic groups. Recognising the prevalence across the Commonwealth of issues relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT) people, the Scottish Government contributed almost £25,000 to the establishment of a Pride house in Glasgow during the Games. The Glasgow 2014 Accessible Transport Strategy covered not only disabled people but also elderly people and passengers with buggies and small children. Along with the Accessible Transport Strategy the Games ticketing strategy ensured that the Games were the most affordable of recent times.

The Scottish Government had direct input into the OC's procurement policy to ensure that it was consistent with Scottish Government standards for the consideration of equality and diversity matters, and to ensure that supported businesses were included in the awarding of Games contracts. As a result, Games contracts to the value of approximately £1 million were awarded to supported businesses.

Commonwealth Games Legacy

The Scottish Government's overarching vision is set out in A More Active Scotland: Building a Legacy from the Commonwealth Games , which articulates a commitment to continuous equality assessment in its delivery. Working with partners across Scotland, the Scottish Government has put in place more than 50 national Legacy 2014 programmes, all of which have a commitment to equality at their core. £2 million of funding will be provided in 2015-16 specifically for Legacy purposes, helping to ensure that we capitalise on the inspiration that the Games provided.

Giving Children and Young People a Sporting Chance Strategy

An equality impact assessment published alongside Scotland's sport strategy for children and young people in June 2014 outlines how the EQIA process affected decisions. For example, it led to the inclusion of a specific recommendation that "All equality characteristics should be adopted and incorporated into relevant continuing professional development for those working with children and young people in sport". The strategy also re-states the importance of ensuring that sport is for all, underpinned by a key principle that there should be a focus on reaching those children and young people who are disengaged, and using sport to make a difference to their lives.

Let's Get Scotland Walking

The Scottish Government's National Walking Strategy, Let's Get Scotland Walking has been informed by equality analysis. A total of £3.2 million will be invested into physical activity programmes in 2015-16, and will include support for key organisations to provide better places and opportunities to get active, including walking. For example, Paths for All training covers how adjustments can be made to make paths more accessible to a wider group of users.

National Para Sports Centre

The Scottish Government will invest £6 million through sportscotland towards a dedicated para-sports facility at the sportscotland National Sports Centre Inverclyde in Largs. The £9 million development, which will extensively refurbish the centre, will ensure disabled athletes can train at a world-class, fully integrated and multi-sport facility. The significant investment recognises the importance of equality of opportunity in participation for disabled people in sport and the facility will also benefit children and young people of all ages from across Scotland who want to participate in a range of para-sports. The redevelopment is set to be completed in 2016.

Street Soccer Scotland

Street Soccer Scotland delivers a range of football-related programmes and personal development services to socially disadvantaged adults and young people from all backgrounds, with the overarching aim of helping individuals make positive changes to their lives. The programmes, which since summer 2013 have received Commonwealth Games Legacy funding, are tailored to suit the needs of people who have experienced a range of issues, including homelessness, mental health problems, addictions, unemployment and leaving care.

Women in Sport

The Scottish Government established a short-term working group for Women in Sport in November 2013, with a remit to look at the key issues affecting women's full participation in all aspects of sport in Scotland and to make recommendations for future action. The Group's recommendations are being taken forward by sportscotland via the Equality Advisory Panel for Sport, which held its first meeting in January 2015. The Scottish Women's Convention and Engender were invited to identify potential members for the group and sportscotland anticipates that these members will help them in relation to issues of equality and inclusion for women.

TRANSPORT

Accessible public transport for disabled people

We are committed to improving access to all modes of public transport so that disabled people can enjoy the same rights, choices and opportunities to travel as everyone else. The Scottish Government liaises closely with the Mobility and Access Committee ( MACS) for Scotland, which works to identify problems and make recommendations on how to deal with them. MACS aims to promote the travel needs of disabled people with transport planners, transport operators and infrastructure providers. Transport Scotland held an accessibility workshop on 24 March 2015, which brought together disabled people's organisations, MACS, regional transport partnerships, transport service providers and Scottish Government policy interests to identify accessibility issues and discuss solutions that build on existing good work in individual areas.

Blue Badge Scheme eligibility criteria

In April 2013, Blue Badge eligibility criteria were extended to take account of the UK Government's welfare reforms and the introduction of Personal Independence Payments ( PIP). We closely monitored the UK Government's introduction of PIP and introduced further mitigation in June 2014 to support those who previously passported to a Blue Badge under the Higher Rate of the Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance ( HRMC DLA), but do not receive PIP at a rate to passport. We have also mitigated against delays to the PIP assessment process by ensuring that applicants who have not received a decision at the time their HRMC DLA ends will continue to passport to the Blue Badge scheme.

Community Transport Policy 2015

Community Transport ( CT) services in Scotland are mainly provided by voluntary organisations for people who are unable to use conventional services due to mobility difficulties or lack of suitable public transport where they live. They include community minibuses, community car services, wheels to work (mopeds and bicycles) and demand-responsive services such as dial-a-bus and dial-a-ride. In addition, the Bus Service Operator's Grant ( BSOG) scheme helps keep fares down and enables services to run that might otherwise be cancelled. CT services play a major part in reducing isolation and increasing social inclusion. They help people to be independent, to have a more active lifestyle and to rely less on social and health services. Scottish-Government commissioned research to better understand the benefits of community transport for individuals and groups who share protected characteristics is expected to be completed early in 2015.

Ferries Accessibility Fund

Launched in August 2013, this £500,000 fund is available for ferry and harbour operators in Scotland to implement improvements that go beyond statutory requirements. A management group drawn from Transport Scotland and the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland ( MACS) is currently evaluating the first round of applications, with a second round to be launched in Spring 2015.

National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People

The NCTS provides free bus travel across Scotland on any registered bus service to people living in Scotland who are aged 60 or over, or who meet certain disability criteria. In addition, residents of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles who meet the criteria are entitled to two free return ferry journeys to the mainland each year. The scheme improves access to services, facilities and social networks for older and disabled people, and promotes more active lifestyles. A survey conducted in 2013-14 revealed that, as well as an average financial benefit of approximately £244 for every cardholder, the scheme increased users' confidence and independence, and improved their mental and physical wellbeing. Minor modifications in 2011 ensured seriously injured veterans could access concessionary travel, and in 2013 changes to the regulations enabled those people who receive Personal Independence Payments to maintain access to concessionary travel. Stakeholder engagement is maintained through regular contact with key stakeholder and advocacy groups, and policy and operational changes are subject to consultation and equality impact assessment.

Queensferry/Forth Replacement Crossing Team

The Forth Replacement Crossing ( FRC) Scheme set up an Access Panel of individuals from organisations including the Mobility and Access Committee Scotland, People Friendly Design, Scottish Disability Equality Forum and Disabilities Fife, along with the Access Champions for the project. The group meets regularly to manage the design and detailed provision of road infrastructure within the project in accordance with the design guide published by the Roads for All Forum.

Trunk Roads

Recent evidence has shown that every £1 spent in road maintenance brings £1.50 in wider economic benefits and, since 2007, over £6 billion has been invested to maintain and improve Scotland's trunk road network. Given the effect uneven footways have on the ability of disabled people ( e.g. visual impairment or mobility) to use the road network, this also leads to improved accessibility and social inclusion. Transport Scotland seeks to avoid creating physical and psychological barriers to travel, and ensures that the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the trunk road infrastructure creates environments which can be used by everyone. In July 2013, Transport Scotland updated its trunk road accessibility action plan Roads for All: Good practice guide for Roads , and has extended the remit of the original working group to form the Roads for All Forum to provide ongoing involvement in implementation of the plan.

OTHER

Early Intervention Fund

Through the Third Sector Early Intervention Fund and Strategic Funding Partnerships, the Scottish Government has provided £45 million over 2013-16 to support work on prevention, early intervention and improved outcomes for children, young people and families in Scotland. In consultation with third sector organisations, including those representing specific equality groups, a short-term working group is looking at ways of improving funding in this area. Equality considerations have been mainstreamed into the development of this work, for example through two specific consultation events. We expect to publish an EQIA later in 2015.

Regeneration Strategy

Regeneration of Scotland's most disadvantaged areas and the strengthening of our local communities is a key priority, and the Strategy's equality impact assessment demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that equality of opportunity underpins our approach, including through the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund ( RCGF) and the People and Communities Fund ( PCF). The RCGF focuses on projects that will deliver large scale transformational change in areas which suffer from high levels of deprivation and disadvantage. The projects should have a strong community focus, clearly demonstrating the involvement of local communities and enhancing social cohesion, community well-being or safety. The People and Communities Fund ( PCF) supports community-led regeneration, including through community anchor organisations such as housing associations and community development trusts, to deliver local regeneration activity and tackle inequality in our most disadvantaged communities. 156 projects have already been supported, representing a funding commitment of £18.3 million over 2012-15.

The First Minister committed to increasing the investment in direct community funding by an additional £10 million in 2015-16 through the new Empowering Communities Fund. Of this, £5.6 million will be used to increase the People and Communities Fund to £15 million, to give people the power to make changes in their own communities. The additional funding will support almost 200 projects, including community groups that are promoting change in disadvantaged communities through training, employment, healthy eating and volunteering opportunities. The remaining £4.4 million will be allocated to support a range of other Empowering Communities Fund initiatives.


Contact

Email: Mainstreaming Equality Team, MainstreamingEquality@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG