Legislation and Policies of Relevance to Equality
This annex highlights some of the Acts of the Scottish Parliament, Bills and policies that have been of particular benefit to equality groups in recent years, or will benefit them in future. 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
The Criminal Justice and Licencing (Scotland) Act 2010 (racial and religiously motivated crimes)
Section 25 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 harmonises the application of hate crimes legislation across the statute book and improves the recording of racially and religiously aggravated offences and convictions. The policy objective is to ensure offenders are aware of the seriousness of their racially and/or religiously motivated offending at the point of sentence and harmonise the operation of hate crime aggravations. The 2010 Act provisions ensure that it is made explicit at the point of sentence what impact the aggravation has had on the sentence. This makes clear to offenders and more widely that racially and religiously aggravated crime will be punished accordingly. These laws help better equip prosecutors and courts to tackle hate crimes more effectively.
The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force on 28 November 2011 and provides civil remedies for those at risk of forced marriage and those who have already been forced into marriage.
Courts can tailor the terms of a Forced Marriage Protection Order to meet the specific needs of a victim or potential victim. Urgent interim Orders can also be made in situations where someone is seen to be in immediate danger of being forced to marry.
The Scottish Government has developed an implementation strategy to help maximise the impact of the Forced Marriage Act. It is working with the partners (including police, statutory and third sector) to develop and to use all appropriate opportunities to inform, in a sensitive manner, of their rights and responsibilities in relation to forced marriage, promoting individual rights and informed choice.
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2010 introduced a new regulatory framework for social landlords in Scotland by establishing the independent Scottish Housing Regulator with the statutory duty to protect and promote the interests of current and future tenants, homeless people and other service users. The Act also requires Ministers to set standards and outcomes that social landlords should aim to achieve when performing their housing activities in the Scottish Social Housing Charter and places a duty on the Regulator to monitor, assess and report on how well social landlords are performing against those standards or outcomes. By stating clearly what tenants and other customers can expect from social landlords it will help them to hold landlords to account.
The Housing Act 2010 places a duty on the Scottish Housing Regulator to encourage equal opportunities and, as a public body, it is also subject to the duties in the Equality Act 2010.
The Regulator's remit covers all social housing stock (around 600,000 tenancies) as well as homelessness applicants (35,515 households were assessed as homeless in 2011-12). Its efforts to promote equality outcomes have a wide reach, especially since pensioners and people with disabilities or long-term illness are over represented in social housing compared to the wider population.
The first Scottish Social Housing Charter came into effect in April 2012 following approval by the Scottish Parliament.
Outcome 1 of the Charter states that "Social landlords perform all aspects of their housing services so that:
- every tenant and other customer has their individual needs recognised, is treated fairly and with respect, and receives fair access to housing and housing services."
This outcome describes what social landlords, by complying with equalities legislation, should achieve for all tenants and other customers regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. It includes landlords' responsibility for finding ways of understanding the needs of different customers and delivering services that recognise and meet these needs.
The Scottish Housing Regulator will produce a report for each landlord with key information from their annual return on the Charter by the end of August 2014. They will produce a report on the analysis of the sector's performance in achieving the outcomes and standards in the Charter by March 2015.
The National Library of Scotland Act 2012 modernises the governing legislation for the National Library of Scotland. The Act sets out a number of objectives that the Library must seek to achieve when carrying out its functions. One of these objectives is to promote the diversity of people accessing the collections; an example of how this could be achieved is by digitising paper resources to allow access outwith the National Library buildings.
The Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) Scotland Act 2009 introduced statutory aggravations for crimes motivated by malice and ill-will towards an individual based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability. The policy objective of the 2009 Act is to create new statutory aggravations to protect victims of crime who are targeted as a result of hatred of their actual or presumed sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability. Prior to the passing of this legislation similar statutory aggravations already existed to protect individuals and groups targeted on racial or religious grounds, but did not extend to other equality groups. The 2009 Act improves the way the courts deal with these crimes. If it can be shown that the motivation for an offence was malice and ill-will based on sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability, that will be taken into account and the sentence will be able to reflect that.
The Act, introduced on 1 March 2012, brought in two new offences. These offences criminalise behaviour which is threatening, hateful or otherwise offensive and is likely to create public disorder at a regulated football match (Section 1 of the Act) and the communication of threats of serious violence, or threats intended to incite religious hatred (Section 6 of the Act).
Section 1 (Offensive Behaviour at Regulated Football Matches) criminalises hatred against people based on any religious beliefs they may have or their membership of any social or cultural group with a perceived religious affiliation, their race/ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.
Section 6 (Threatening Communications), criminalises the sending of material which contains or implies a threat to carry out a seriously violent act against another person, or material which is threatening and intended to stir up hatred on religious grounds.
The aim of the Act is to deal with sectarianism and other offensive behaviour related to football. In addition, the Government has invested £9m between 2012 and 2015 in a wider drive to stamp out sectarianism in Scottish Society, including setting up an independent advisory group to evidence the nature of sectarianism and report to Scottish Ministers with recommendations on ways to tackle it.
The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, which received Royal Assent in March 2011, raised the status and focus of patients' rights and aims to improve patients' experience of using health services. The Act made provision for the introduction of The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities by 1 October 2012. The Charter sets out a summary of the rights and responsibilities of patients using the NHS in Scotland. The Charter reflects a patient's right to safe, effective and person-centred care and to be treated with dignity and respect. It also reflects the patient's right not to be unlawfully discriminated against because of age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief.
The Schedule to the Act sets out that people who provide NHS health care (such as doctors, nurses, dentists) must from April 2012 take into account a set of Health care Principles when providing services.
The Act makes provision for the purpose of simplifying and improving the landscape of Scottish public bodies. The purpose of the Act is to improve how public bodies fulfil their functions to benefit public, private and third sector organisations and individual service users and therefore overall it is intended to have a positive impact on equalities groups through improving public services. The Act encompasses a broad range of policy objectives and public bodies' simplification proposals which have all been assessed individually for their equalities impacts. In particular the Act provides for:
- The creation of Creative Scotland which aims to encourage as many people as possible and increase the diversity of people to access and participate in the arts and culture;
- The creation of Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (now the Care Inspectorate) which promotes equality internally and in the care services it regulates;
- Improved scrutiny of public services through a duty of user focus on scrutiny bodies which aims to enable a holistic approach to scrutiny and improve outcomes for users of public services and therefore to benefit equalities groups.
The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 replaced a patchwork of common law and statutory provision which had developed piecemeal over more than a century, addressing a number of inequalities that existed in the law on sexual offences. The 2009 Act provides for a statutory definition of rape which is wider than the old common-law offence and encompasses 'male rape'. It equalises at 16 the age of consent, addressing anomalies in the previous law whereby the age of consent differed according to gender and sexuality.
The 2009 Act also provides for a statutory definition of consent - as "free agreement" which brings about greater certainty in this area of the law. The 2009 Act also ensures that the same legislation is used to prosecute sexual crime regardless of whether the perpetrator of a sexual assault is of the same or different gender to the victim (ending the anomalous situation whereby, where a male sexually assaults another male, it may be prosecuted under the common law crime of 'sodomy' or at section 13 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, where the same conduct, involving a male perpetrator and a female victim, would be prosecuted under the common law as indecent assault or rape).
The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013, passed by Parliament in January 2013 and due to commence in 2014, places a duty on local authorities to offer people choice over their care and support.
Self-directed support is predicated on the core principles of collaboration, involvement and informed choice, together with the independent living principles of dignity and participation. These principles are underpinned by the 2013 Act, which will be accompanied by statutory guidance.
Self-directed support advances equality for disabled people and people of all ages. It is based on the principle that every person is unique and therefore the services which support that person should adapt and fit to their needs.
The Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 17 April 2013.
The Bill will make real our aspirations for Scotland to be the best place to grow up in. It will do this by putting children and young people at the heart of planning and delivery of services and ensuring their rights are respected across the public sector. As a whole, the Bill's proposals are aimed at improving the focus of services around all children and young people while providing targeted improvements for specific groups.
All children and young people should benefit from the introduction of the Named Person, a holistic definition of 'wellbeing' and the proposals around children's rights, while other provisions focus on children in the early years or the special needs of care leavers, those in kinship care and looked after children.
The Bill will:
- Reflect in domestic law the role of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC) in influencing the design and delivery of policies and services by placing duties on the Scottish Ministers and the wider public sector, and strengthening the powers of the Children's Commissioner to enable investigations to be conducted in relation to individual children and young people;
- Improve the way services work to support children, young people and families by: ensuring there is a single planning approach for children who need additional support from services; creating a single point of contact around every child or young person; ensuring coordinated planning and delivery of services with a focus on outcomes; and providing a holistic and shared understanding of a child's or young person's wellbeing.
- Strengthen the role of early years support in children's and families' lives by increasing the amount and flexibility of free early learning and childcare from 475 hours a year to a minimum of 600 hours for 3 and 4 year olds, and 2 year olds who are, or have been at any time since turning 2, looked after or subject to a kinship care order.
- Ensure better permanence planning for looked after children by: extending corporate parenting across the public sector; extending support to young people leaving care for longer (up to and including the age of 25); supporting families and the parenting role of kinship carers through new legal entitlements; and putting Scotland's National Adoption Register on a statutory footing.
- Strengthen existing legislation that affects children and young people by creating a new right to appeal a local authority decision to place a child in secure accommodation, and by making procedural and technical changes in the areas of children's hearings support arrangements and schools closures.
Bill on Integration of Health and Social Care
A Bill is to be introduced to Parliament in May 2013 for the purpose of enabling more people to live safely in their communities, whether in their own home or a homely setting, through effective joint planning and delivery of health and social care services.
The Bill will require Partnerships to produce a joint strategic commissioning plan, which will ensure the effective planning and use of the integrated budget in achieving the nationally agreed outcomes. Partners will be held to account jointly for the planning and delivery of health and social care services based on the needs of the population.
The Bill will provide for a clear focus on improving outcomes for people with multiple long term conditions and needs by putting in place the principle of nationally agreed outcomes. The outcomes will focus on a person-centred approach to service design and delivery and will apply across adult health and social care services.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill
This Bill proposes to introduce same sex marriage and the religious and belief registration of civil partnerships whilst, at the same time, puts in place a number of protections in relation to religious freedom and freedom of speech. The Bill also proposes to remove the requirement on transgender people to divorce before applying for a full Gender Recognition Certificate. It is expected that the Bill will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament in the summer of 2013.
There are two main policy areas in the Bill: reforms to the justice system relating to victims and witnesses, and the establishment of a National Confidential Forum ( NCF, the Forum) for adults placed in institutional forms of care as children.
The proposed reforms relating to victims and witnesses aim to put victims' interests at the heart of ongoing improvements to the justice system and to ensure that witnesses are able to fulfil their public duty effectively. The reforms are part of the ongoing Making Justice Work programme, which will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system generally. Key proposals include:
- giving victims and witnesses a right to certain information about their case;
- creating a duty on organisations within the justice system to set clear standards of service for victims and witnesses;
- creating a presumption that certain categories of victim are vulnerable, and giving such victims the right to utilise certain special measures when giving evidence;
- requiring the court to consider compensation to victims in relevant cases;
- introducing a victim surcharge so that offenders contribute to the cost of supporting victims; and
- introducing restitution orders, allowing the court to require that offenders who assault police officers pay to support the specialist non- NHS services which assist in the recovery of such individuals.
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: Early Years, Education and Skills, Employment, Health, Housing, Justice, Sport, Third Sector and Communities.
Early Years Collaborative
The Chief Medical Officer is clear that until we make the early years of life stable and nurturing for all our children, we will never address inequalities in outcomes.
The objective of the Early Years Collaborative ( EYC) is to accelerate the conversion of the high level principles set out in GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) and the Early Years Framework into practical action. This must:
- deliver tangible improvement in outcomes and reduce inequalities for Scotland's vulnerable children
- put Scotland squarely on course to shifting the balance of public services towards early intervention and prevention by 2016
- sustain this change to 2018 and beyond.
We have reached a point now where we have the commitment and the will to deliver in this area, and we have a strong evidence base about what works to make improvements. What we have lacked up until now is a method by which we can take our pockets of excellent practice to scale, and ensure that every baby, child, mother, father and family in Scotland has access to the best supports available, recognising the diversity of needs within communities.
The EYC is premised on the fact that we know there is strong evidence about costs and outcomes of current and desired practice, but much of this is not being used in daily work. Where we have taken on board the evidence, practice does not always reliably recreate what the evidence tells us, and there is inconsistency and patchy implementation. In other words, there is a gap between what we know works and what we do.
The EYC will help organisations close that gap by:
- creating a structure in which partners can easily learn from each other and from recognised experts in areas where they want to make improvements
- supporting the application of improvement methodology to bridge the gap between what we know works and what we do.
Family Nurse Partnership Programme
The Family Nurse Partnership is an early intervention programme for first time teenage mothers aimed at improving pregnancy outcomes, child health and development, and parents' economic self-sufficiency. It offers intensive and structured home visiting, delivered by specially trained nurses, from early pregnancy until the child is two.
The programme advances equality by addressing elements of three key social policy areas - health inequalities, child poverty and early years. It provides first time teenage mothers from deprived backgrounds with the opportunity to obtain support, which builds their self-efficacy and enables them to make changes to their health behaviour and emotional development, and form a positive relationship with their baby.
The Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland
It is recognised that poverty is unevenly distributed throughout Scottish society, and some equality groups are particularly at risk. More women live in poverty, and they are more likely to work in part time and low paid jobs. A high percentage of lone parents are in poverty, the vast majority of whom are women. As well as caring for children, women are also much more likely to have other caring responsibilities which may limit their capacity for paid work. The risk of poverty is also higher for children in families affected by disability, and in some ethnic minority communities. The Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland, published in 2011, sets out what can and should be done to make the most impact on reducing levels of child poverty, and on improving outcomes for children growing up in poverty. It focuses on maximising household incomes and improving children's wellbeing and life chances. The first annual report was published in March 2012 and the second is due to be published in summer 2013.
EDUCATION AND SKILLS
Equality and Inclusion in Schools
We have developed guidance for schools in partnership with LGBT Youth Scotland to support those working in schools to prevent and tackle homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools.
The guidance can be found at http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/resources/d/genericresource_tcm4512285.asp
We have also supported the development of the FIT DVD resource to support those working in schools to address the issue of homophobia and homophobic bullying through the medium of arts.
In addition, respectme, the national anti-bullying service, works to build capacity of those working with children and young people to prevent and tackle bullying. This includes responding to homophobic bullying.
Free School Meals
Free school meals are a 'benefit in kind' received by children and young people at the point of service. They are received by young people in school education who receive, or children and young people whose parents/carers receive, certain prescribed welfare benefits. As it is acknowledged that free school meals effectively represent a monetary saving, the legislation prescribing the qualifying criteria for free school meals may benefit children, young people and their parents/carers. While poverty and free school meals elgibility is not always comparable, it is acknowledged that those with certain protected characteristics are more likely to live in poverty and, therefore, more likely to be eligibile to claim free school meals. Women, for example, in single parent households are more likely than men to live in poverty; and households containing a disabled person and people from ethnic minority groups are also more likely to live in poverty.
Retention of Education Maintenance Allowance
Education Maintenance Allowance targets financial support at young people who live in a household with low earnings therefore encouraging more learners to overcome financial barriers and so remain in learning for longer.
Education Maintenance Allowance provides a financial incentive to young people from low income families to remain in learning.
Free Access to Higher Education
Higher education in Scotland is free to Scottish domiciled/ EU students. This is based on the Government's commitment to access to education based on ability to learn not ability to pay.
Following the increase in tuition fees in England to up to £9,000 per annum, the Scottish Government introduced new secondary legislation to enable Scottish universities to set their own fees for students from the rest of the UK ( RUK) from academic year 2012-13. The changes came into force on 1 August 2012. Both individuals and the Scottish economy in general benefit from the current policy of no tuition fees for Scottish domiciled/ EU students attending Scottish higher education institutions. The benefit to the individual of access to free higher education is, in the first instance, financial.
Higher Education Support
From 2013, students in Scotland with a household income of less than £17,000 will receive a support package amounting to £7,250. This is recognised by the National Union of Students as the best package of student support available anywhere in the UK and fulfils a Scottish Government manifesto commitment to deliver a minimum income of £7,000 for students, starting with the poorest students.
Opportunities for All
Opportunities for All offers every young person, between the ages of 16 and 19, an offer of a place in learning or training if they are not currently in education, employment or training.
It ensures access for all Scotland's young people to a range of opportunities.
No compulsory redundancies in the public sector and pay protection for lower paid workers
The primary purpose of the pay policy is to set pay increases in a way that is fair and helps to sustain public sector jobs and protect public services in the face of deep budget cuts i.e. to maximise levels of public sector employment. Maintaining the commitment to a no compulsory redundancy policy provides staff with guaranteed job security whilst enabling employers to manage their headcount and budgets to realise the necessary savings to deliver efficiencies. The pay policy covers the Scottish Government and its Associated Departments, Executive Agencies, Non-Departmental public bodies, public corporations and NHS Scotland Executives and Senior Managers.
The key features of the 2013-14 public sector pay policy are:
- a 1% cap on the cost of the increase in basic pay for all staff earning between £21,000 and £80,000
- maintaining a pay freeze for staff earning over £80,000
- a minimum £250 basic pay award for staff earning under £21,000
- requirement for employers to pay the Scottish Living Wage
- continuing with the suspension of non-consolidated performance payments
- progression increases are a matter for individual employers but for those subject to the pay policy for senior appointments the increase is capped at 1.5%
- continuation of the no compulsory redundancy policy.
The cap on basic award will continue to impact on the real incomes of those staff subject to the pay policy, given the high levels of inflation and increased pension contributions. However, the on-going constraint of pay through the cap on the basic award is intended to help protect jobs for men and women of all age groups. Women make up around two-thirds of Scotland's public sector workforce so the differential impact is greater. The requirement for employers to pay the Scottish Living Wage and to provide a minimum £250 basic pay award for those earning under £21,000 will continue to provide protection to low earners, in particularly those individuals with protected characteristics. Data suggest that among those who earn under £21,000 there are higher proportions of women, disabled people, employees aged 50 and over, and employees aged under 30 compared to the organisations overall.
Living Wage Campaign
The Scottish Government fully supports the principles of the Living Wage Campaign. It aims to make a real difference to the people of Scotland, by encouraging employers to reward their staff fairly. We have illustrated that support through our own pay policy. The Scottish Government is leading by example by ensuring all staff covered by the public sector pay policy are paid the Scottish Living Wage (£7.45 p/h as of 1 April 2013). And we have committed to support the Scottish Living Wage in our pay policy for the duration of this Parliament - a decisive long-term commitment to those on the lowest incomes.
Women's Employment Summit
The Scottish Government, together with STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress), held the first ever Scottish Women's Employment Summit on 12 September 2012 in Edinburgh.
Over 150 delegates attended the Summit. It included 6 discussion groups (commissions) covering the topics on Childcare; Women in Enterprise; Research and Analysis; Multiple Obstacles to Work; Occupational Segregation; and Workforce Issues. In addition rural issues were discussed by satellite from Inverness and Dumfries.
The purpose of the Summit was:
- to consider the issues that hinder women's access to and participation in employment; and
- to identify actions that public sector bodies, employers, trade unions, other partners and women themselves can take forward.
Following on from the Summit a debate was held in Parliament on 2 October 2012.
We are now in the process of identifying short, medium and longer terms goals that can be taken forward by the Scottish Government, key stakeholders and women themselves.
Immediate actions include:
- Discussions from the Summit have been informing the sub group of the Early Years Task Force set up to develop a long-term vision for Family Support, Family Centres and Integrated Early Learning and Childcare, as well as the Equal Opportunities Committee's current inquiry into Women and Work and the STUC Women's conference that took place in November 2012.
- A new CareerWise initiative with funding of £250,000 started in April 2013. This is aimed at encouraging more young women to consider careers in the fields of science, technology and engineering.
- On 25 October 2012 the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth addressed the first of a series of seminars to be chaired by Professor Sarah Carter of Strathclyde University to agree actions to be taken to increase numbers of women in enterprise.
- On occupational segregation, the Cross-Government Group has recently been re-convened
- Scottish Government is currently funding a project through Women onto Work which includes the development of 6 longitudinal case studies that track the characteristics, progression routes and outcomes of women on employment programmes. A report from the project will provide key messages that agencies and professionals who support disadvantaged women can apply in their day to day work. The final reports and case studies will be complete by December 2013.
A small group of external and Scottish Government policy and practice experts has been set up by the Minister for Youth Employment to support her in ensuring all feasible recommendations from the Summit are taken forward.
Further information on the Summit can be found at http://www.employabilityinscotland.com/womensemploymentsummitdocuments
Working for Growth
Working for Growth is the Refreshed Employability Framework for Scotland. Published in September 2012 it promotes a person-centred approach to helping people of all backgrounds and descriptions to enjoy the benefits of work.
From barriers on the grounds of characteristics such as race, disability, age and gender to skills and addiction, the factors that help or hinder one's chances of employment can take a great many forms. Working for Growth describes how, with the help of our partners, we seek to help individuals effectively address these factors and ultimately progress into sustained employment.
Community Jobs Scotland
The Scottish Government has invested a total of £29m since August 2011 to support unemployed young people into work and training opportunities across the third sector in Scotland through Community Jobs Scotland ( CJS). Participants receive at least the minimum wage for a minimum of 6 months to undertake job related training and additional training tailored to help them enhance their general employability. The first phase (2011/12) of the programme was delivered by SCVO and Social Enterprise Scotland ( SES) in partnership with the Wise Group and a total of 1,843 participants benefited from the programme.
The second phase (2012/13) of the programme has supported 1,345 16-19 year old unemployed people into full-time paid opportunities for at least six months with the third sector. In February 2013, the Minister for Youth Employment announced further investment of £545,000 to expand the CJS programme for young people aged 16-24 with disabilities or long-term health conditions. The additional funding helped create a further 75 part-time jobs for 12 months at 16 hours per week paying the National Minimum Wage. By working in partnership with the Shaw Trust and Momentum, SCVO have been able to lever additional funding through the DWP Work Choice programme resulting in an opportunity to extend these jobs for 18 months.
The Minister for Youth Employment announced in February 2013 that the Scottish Government would be investing £5.75m to continue Community Jobs Scotland for a third phase in 2013-14 supporting a further 1,000 young people. The 1,000 jobs created will include a ring fenced figure to support young people aged 16-24 with disabilities or long term illness.
Modernisation of Career Services
The modernisation of the career service makes a clear commitment to all-age, universal careers services while emphasising the need for self-help, with face-to-face and more intensive support for those who need it most.
At their heart, career services seek to challenge and overcome stereotypes to limit gender or racial segregation in the labour market and lesser outcomes for individuals with additional support needs.
Free Personal and Nursing Care
Free personal care is available for everyone aged 65 and over in Scotland assessed by the local authority as needing it. Free nursing care is available for people of any age assessed as requiring nursing care services. While free personal care is age dependent there are no other restrictions to the benefits of the Free Personal and Nursing Care Policy. The policy supports people to live independently for as long as possible where they want to be - in their own communities. In 2011/12 there were approximately 77,000 people in Scotland receiving free personal and nursing care.
Free prescriptions were introduced in Scotland on 1 April 2011, removing the financial barrier to better health for many people. This policy applies to all patients in Scotland regardless of income, age or gender etc.
We made dementia a national priority in 2007, set a national target on improving diagnosis rates in 2008 and published an initial 3-year national strategy in 2010, underpinned by a rights-based approach to care, treatment and support. Our work over the last 3 years has been based on strong collaboration in developing and implementing the strategy in a coordinated way.
In 2011 we published the Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland as well as the Promoting Excellence framework which supports the health and social services workforce to meet the standards.
The 3-year diagnosis target was achieved nationally and the UK Alzheimer Society's second annual dementia map - published in January 2013 - shows that, up to March 2012, in Scotland around 64% of those with dementia were being diagnosed (contrasted with around 44% in England, 38% in Wales and 63% in Northern Ireland), using the Dementia UK prevalence model.
From April 2013, we introduce a HEAT target which guarantees that everyone newly diagnosed with dementia will be entitled to at least a year's worth of post-diagnostic support, coordinated by a named link worker.
Since 2011 the Chief Nursing Officer has led an improvement programme with NHS Boards on the care of older people in hospitals. Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultants have been appointed to Boards across Scotland and 300 Dementia Champions were trained.
A second 3-year dementia strategy will be published in June 2013.
The Scottish Government is committed to reducing health inequalities.
The report of the Ministerial Task Force on health inequalities, Equally Well, was published in June 2008, and has been kept under regular review since its publication. The Task Force was reconvened in November 2012, chaired by the Minister for Public Health, and will report later this year.
The implementation of Equally Well is being taken forward alongside the Early Years Framework, the Government's strategy for ensuring our children have the best possible start in life, and our anti-poverty strategy, Achieving Our Potential.
All three social policy frameworks published jointly with COSLA, set out the Government's approach to tackling inequalities in life chances through targeted action, partnership working and early intervention.
Reducing health inequalities is one of the six key policy priorities that all Community Planning Partnerships ( CPPs) should focus on in the development and delivery of Single Outcome Agreements.
Some of the Government actions taken as a result of the recommendations made in Equally Well:
- NHS 24 were given £50,000 and have developed a Learning Disability Zone within the NHS Inform website which will be accessible to people with learning disabilities and their families and carers.
- As a condition of the change programme funding, each NHS Board has designated a senior member of staff to have responsibility for equitable treatment for people with learning disabilities.
- NHS Health Scotland developed 'Caring for Smiles' a training resource for staff in care homes and 'Smile4life', a training guide for staff working directly with people who are homeless.
- Scottish Government released 'Improving the oral health of priority groups', an oral health improvement strategy in June 2012 aimed at preventing oral disease for adults vulnerable to poor oral health: frail older people, those with special care needs and homeless people.
- NHS Health Scotland undertook a review of equalities data for health needs which details the current availability of equality health data in Scotland for routinely collected data sources, assesses equality data needs, and identified national priorities for data collection. The review was published in September 2012.
The Scottish Strategy for Autism was launched by the Scottish Government in November 2011. It is underpinned by £13.4 million of funding to improve services, and access to those services for people with autism.
In developing the Strategy, the Scottish Government consulted widely with stakeholders including people on the autistic spectrum.
The Strategy aims to ensure that people with autism have equal access to information assessment and services; that health and social care agencies work to redress inequalities and challenge discrimination; and that professionals work to make these values a reality.
The Autistic Spectrum Disorder Reference Group, and associated sub-groups, have been tasked with taking forward the recommendations in the Strategy.
Carers and Young Carers Strategy
The national Strategy Caring Together and Getting it Right for Young Carers (2010-2015) recognises the diversity of the caring experience. It establishes at the outset the importance of ensuring that carers and young carers within equality groups are identified and supported.
The Carers Strategy embraces the key principles of the Equality Act 2010 and each part of the Strategy contains stand-alone chapters on equalities and cultural competence.
All NHS Boards are being supported by the Scottish Government through the use of Carer Information Strategy funding. Guidance to NHS Boards about the use of this funding for carers contains guidance on equalities.
To assist local authorities, Health Boards and others to better and more appropriately support ethnic minority ( EM) carers, the Scottish Government has also funded the Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People's Project ( MECOPP) to develop an audit tool. The purpose of this tool is to build the capacity of stakeholders to deliver a more culturally competent service which identifies and responds to the specific needs of EM carers, including young carers. It has the additional benefit of assisting the statutory sector to meet its legal obligations under the Equality Act.
Carers Branch has commissioned Carers Scotland to develop a Carer Kitemark for Employers. The Kite-mark will recognise employers who offer the best support to carers and young carers, at the same time helping to address concerns about occupational segregation.
In addition, the Scottish Government is investing £13 million in short breaks between 2010-2015 (administered through the voluntary sector) for carers and young carers. A large portion of this - £8 million - is specifically for disabled children up to the age of 20 and their parent carers.
The first strategy on learning disability, The same as you?, was published by the Scottish Executive in 2000.
The Scottish Government is now in the process of developing a new learning disability policy to follow on from The same as you? and has consulted widely with stakeholders, particularly people with a learning disability and their parents and carers. Two stakeholder groups have been set up to inform the development of the policy, one of which is made up of people with learning disabilities, parents and carers.
A key aim of the new learning disability strategy is to reduce inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities, in particular health inequalities. The Scottish Government has funded Glasgow University to set up a Scottish Learning Disability Observatory which will help to set the landscape in relation to health inequalities for people with learning disabilities.
The Scottish Government will very shortly issue a consultation document on the development of a Scottish strategy on sensory impairment.
A draft strategy has been developed in partnership with a diverse group of stakeholders, including COSLA, the NHS and the third sector. Central to the proposed ten year strategy is the user care pathway, based on need and comprising well-considered service responses, which will enable people with sensory impairments to move through and across services. Critically, the care pathway will acknowledge and respond to individual needs and that people may enter and exit the care pathway at different stages.
In addition, the Scottish Government has provided funding to develop eleven sensory impairment 'one stop shops' across Scotland. These shops are led by third sector organisations that represent people with a sensory impairment such as RNIB Scotland, Action on Hearing Loss, Visibility, and work with local statutory partners in the NHS and local authorities.
Alternative and Augmentative Communication ( AAC)
In June 2012, the Scottish Government launched the guidance document ' A Right to Speak: Supporting Individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication'.
The guidance takes forward the recommendations of a Short Life Working Group to agree short, medium and long term goals to deliver better outcomes for people.
Funding is being provided (from 2012 until 2015) to Health Boards to buy equipment to meet current and future demand and to NHS Education for Scotland to deliver training to NHS staff.
The Independent Living Programme ( ILP) supports the Health and Social Care agenda from an equality perspective. The Programme considers all aspects of policy development and service delivery i.e. health, transport, justice, employment, education, and creates an enabling environment where disabled people have the same choice, dignity, control and freedom as others. Linked to this programme is the range of support provided to disabled people's organisations to strengthen their capacity and to enable them to participate in policy development.
The right to independent living is set out in article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People ( UNCRDP). Activities and funded programmes across the articles of the UNCRDP are ongoing across the Scottish Government and underpin the right to independent living.
The Gender Reassignment Protocol
The Gender Reassignment Protocol was cascaded to Health Boards in July 2012. It applies to both primary and secondary care services in NHS Scotland, and its purpose is to provide a clear, and consistent treatment pathway that is equitable, effective, patient focussed and timely. Its audience is both NHS professionals and those wishing to access gender reassignment services.
The protocol incorporates recommendations from the 7 th edition of The World Professional Association for Transgender Health ( WPATH) Standards of Care, September 2011.
The protocol sets out those procedures which may be provided on the NHS. The Gender Reassignment Protocol is intended to be flexible for each transgender patient. Each patient's request for assessment and treatment will be considered, in conjunction with their clinician(s), to meet their needs and thereby deliver patient focussed, holistic care. Procedures are provided on the basis that there is clear evidence of benefit to the patient
Provision of health care and dental treatment on the same basis as a UK National for all asylum seekers (whether pending or unsuccessful)
The Scottish Government recognises that asylum seekers can be vulnerable people who have been through traumatic ordeals and may well require access to specialist NHS treatment. That is why it gives asylum seekers access to the full range of NHS treatment and services while they are in Scotland, which is also in the best interests of public health - preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
Anyone who has made a formal application for asylum, whether pending or unsuccessful, is entitled to NHS treatment and services on the same basis as a UK national who is ordinarily resident in Scotland while they remain here. If their application for asylum is successful, they will be granted refugee status and will continue to be exempt from NHS charges as their legal right to remain in the UK and their residency status will have been established.
SurvivorScotland is the National Strategy for adult survivors of childhood abuse, including people who have experienced abuse in care. It was launched by the Scottish Government in 2005.
Since 2010, the Strategy has prioritised work with survivors from minority ethnic communities and with learning disabilities.
For example, the Scottish Government funds the Ethnic Survivors Forum, which is led by Roshni, and a prevention project for minority ethnic children and young people.
For survivors with learning disabilities, we have been instrumental in developing '6D cards' and 'Talking Mats' to support people to disclose abuse.
The establishment of the National Confidential Forum is an important part of the SurvivorScotland Strategy. It is intended that the Forum is established on a legislative basis and provision for that is included in the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament.
The National Confidential Forum will give people who were placed in institutional care as children, including survivors of abuse and neglect, the opportunity to describe their experiences in a confidential and non-judgemental setting. This builds on the positive evaluation of the 'Time to be Heard' Pilot Forum which gave former residents of Quarriers Village the opportunity to describe their experiences, including of abuse and neglect, in confidence and with support.
The aim of the National Confidential Forum is to improve the health and well-being of people placed in institutional care as children, including survivors of abuse, by offering an acknowledgement of their experiences. Available evidence suggests that participation in the Forum may particularly benefit those who are generally less likely to disclose abuse or access services (eg older people and men); those who may experience social exclusion as adults (eg people with disabilities) and those who may experiences barriers to participating in wider Scottish society (eg younger people who have been in care; people from minority ethnic groups).
Freezing the Council Tax
The Scottish Government has provided local authorities with an extra £70 million in each of the last 5 years (2008-13) to enable them to freeze their council tax at 2007-08 levels, and is committed to continuing to fully fund the council tax freeze for the lifetime of this Parliament. All 32 Councils have set their 2013‑14 Budgets and have budgeted to freeze their council tax levels. We tabled an Amendment Order on 14 March to distribute the shares of the £70 million for 2013-14; this was approved.
The continued council tax freeze is intended to protect households from further reductions to their disposable income in difficult economic times ( e.g. with increases in the cost of living, inflation, real terms pay cuts and unemployment).
There is some evidence to suggest that pensioner households gain more relatively from the council tax freeze than households as a whole. Overall, households on low to middle incomes appear to have a proportionally greater increase in net household income as a result of the freeze than households on the highest incomes. Those on very low incomes may be eligible for council tax benefit.
Older People's Housing Strategy
The national strategy for housing for older people, Age, Home and Community was published jointly with COSLA in December 2011. It sets a clear vision for housing for older people, with the necessary framework for delivery.
The strategy has a key role to play in supporting a 'shift in the balance of care' and reducing the use of institutional care settings. It advocates a range of preventative services, which help older people to live independently, safely and comfortably in their own homes. The strategy was developed in partnership with stakeholders, including older people through Age Scotland's Local Housing Panels. We are now working to take it forward, with the main focus to date on housing adaptations and other preventative support services.
Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland ( HEEPS)
The Scottish Government funds the Energy Saving Trust to give advice and support to help increase income, cut fuel bills and refer individuals to Scottish Government and other schemes to make homes warmer and more comfortable. Anybody can telephone the Home Energy Scotland Hotline to speak to an advisor. The Energy Saving Trust provide:
- Energy advice
Expert advisors will talk to customers about how to make best use of energy in their home and keep their bills as low as possible.
- Benefit and tax credit checks
Customers may be referred to the Pensions Service or Citizens Advice Direct to get a benefit or tax credit check. This could help them find out if they are eligible to get more money through benefits or tax credits. If they are 60 or over and the benefit and tax credit check finds that they might be entitled to more money, they will be offered help with filling in the forms.
- Referrals to the Scottish Government's HEEPS schemes which provide heating and insulation measures
- Access to other forms of support such as the Green Homes Cashback Scheme.
HEEPS comprises three strands:
1. Area Based Schemes delivered by local authorities and prioritising fuel poor areas aiming to cover the whole of Scotland in around 10 years. These Schemes succeed the Universal Home Insulation Scheme.
2. Affordable Warmth Scheme delivered nationally and targeted at private tenure households who are vulnerable to fuel poverty as defined by the UK Government's affordable warmth group. Eligibility is based on the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation under the Energy Companies Obligation.
3. Energy Assistance Scheme, which is an extension of stage 4 of the Energy Assistance Package, focusing assistance on the most vulnerable and poor households which were previously eligible for heating and insulation measures but who would otherwise miss out under the Affordable Warmth Scheme.
The Energy Assistance Package operated from April 2009 to March 2012 and itself succeeded the Central Heating Programme. The energy advice and tariff and benefits checking services it offered are continuing (see above). The Package provided referrals to energy suppliers for insulation under the CERT scheme but this has now been superseded by the Energy Companies Obligation and HEEPS is designed to integrate with this new source of funding and also preserve a service for the most vulnerable households.
The Area Based Schemes will principally provide insulation measures to private and public tenure households living within areas defined by local authorities, focussing on areas of fuel poverty.
The Affordable Warmth Scheme and Energy Assistance Scheme will provide installation and heating measures to private tenure households likely to be vulnerable to fuel poverty as evidenced by receipt of certain benefits related to income, age, children or disability. Households which may be eligible include those with: persons in receipt of Child Tax Credit or State Pension Credit; persons over 60 with low income or no central heating; low income households with a child under 16 or resident child under 20 in full time education; and low income households with a disabled or terminally ill person or person in receipt of carer's allowance.
Homes Fit for the 21st Century
The Scottish Government published its ten year Strategy and Action Plan, Homes Fit for the 21st Century in February 2011. This recognises that accessible, affordable housing and attractive local environments can contribute significantly to our wider aims to tackle poverty and health inequalities and to build confidence and capacity in communities. A key strategic objective is to build the new, high quality, affordable homes (including social housing) to meet current need and the demand arising from our growing and ageing population.
The policy covers a wide range of activities and interventions which have a positive impact on equalities groups. These include:
- New supply housing
We aim to deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes during the lifetime of this Parliament, two-thirds of which will be for social rent, and have a three year Housing Supply budget to 2014-15 that has increased to almost £860 million. This investment is well-targeted at people with equality characteristics, especially to those on lower incomes.
- Housing adaptations
Adaptations to existing homes help older people and disabled people to live independently. Adaptations are a clear example of preventative spend. The independent Adaptations Working Group reported in November 2012, with proposals for the future organisation and funding of adaptations for older people and disabled people. The Scottish Government's formal response to the Group's reports was issued in February 2013 and confirms that we will work to take forward the recommendations. Project planning is now underway.
- Regulation of social landlords
See the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010.
- Inclusive environment and place
The Scottish Government recognises the need to deliver inclusive environments that can be used by everyone, regardless of age, gender or disability. In addition to their duties as public bodies under equality legislation, the Scottish Ministers and planning authorities must perform their functions under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 in a manner which encourages equal opportunities and in particular the observance of the equal opportunities requirements.
Where housing corresponds to a major development (50 or more homes) legislation requires that the associated planning applications contain a design and access statement. The statement should explain: the design principles and concepts that have been applied; and how issues relating to access for disabled people to the development have been dealt with.
Designing Streets, the Scottish Government's policy on street design, states that those involved in the design of streets and spaces should consider pedestrians first and private motor vehicles last. In this context, pedestrians include wheelchair users, mobility scooter users and people pushing prams and pushchairs. It also states that street design should be inclusive, providing for all people regardless of age or ability.
The Scottish Government recognised that the way women were dealt with in the criminal justice system was a pressing social issue in light of the compelling evidence that the number of women imprisoned in Scottish prisons had doubled over the last decade with many, following release, going on to repeatedly commit further low level offences.
It was recognised that the criminal justice system had historically evolved to address the criminogenic needs and patterns of male offenders and that gender specific approaches were required in order to achieve equality of outcomes for women offenders.
The Commission on Women Offenders was established "to consider the evidence on how to improve outcomes for women in the criminal justice system; to make recommendations for practical measures in this Parliament to reduce their reoffending and reverse the recent increase in the female prison population". The Commission reported in April 2012. It made 37 far reaching recommendations as outlined in The Commission Report. The Scottish Government responded in June 2012, accepting 33 of the 37 recommendations immediately and agreeing to consider the remaining 4 in more detail before deciding on its response as defined in The Scottish Government Response.
The Scottish Government is fully committed to tackling sectarianism and is supporting this commitment with £9m over three years. We have appointed an independent Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland to offer expert advice on wide-ranging actions to tackle the root causes of sectarianism, supported over 40 projects in 2012/13 to test a variety of community-based approaches to tackling sectarianism, and are working in partnership with a wide range of organisations to build on and expand this work in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
To complement our project work, and build a robust evidence base for our work on tackling sectarianism, we are preparing a summary of the empirical evidence on sectarianism; analysing information on religiously aggravated offences under Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 on an annual basis; extending the data collected in key national surveys, such as the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey and the Scottish Household Survey, to build a better understanding of sectarian discrimination in Scotland; and 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 which is due to report in early 2014.
A Games Legacy for Scotland
The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 will bring a wealth of opportunities and are about far more than delivering world-class sport. They are about creating a positive and lasting legacy for the whole of Scotland and everyone in it.
The Scottish Government and its wide range of partners have developed, and are now delivering, a Scotland-wide games legacy plan , A Games Legacy for Scotland. The games legacy plan is wide-ranging and covers a ten year period to 2019.
The games legacy plan is set around four themes: Active, Connected, Flourishing and Sustainable. Within each of these themes there is a range of programmes and activities where individuals, groups, communities, organisations and businesses can get involved and benefit. Embedded across each are five underpinning principles of enabling diversity, ensuring equality, enhancing partnerships, encouraging community engagement and embedding sustainability.
The Scottish Government is conducting an exercise to look at the equality landscape across all themes, in an effort to ensure access to opportunities does not exclude any groups and to determine examples of where groups are already benefiting. The Legacy 2014 website ( www.legacy2014.co.uk) contains information on benefits gained across the four themes and sets out the wide range of opportunities available for all to get involved. Annual progress and evaluation data will also be available on the website.
Below are some examples which give a flavour of the activities that in particular will benefit equality groups:
1) Leap Sports
We are funding LEAP £106,000 over the next 3 years to deliver:
- increase in the participation of LGBT people within sport, outdoor activity and physical activity across Scotland
- increase in the profile of LGBT people within the sporting life in Scotland
- improved access and opportunities for the LGBT community as a result of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
2) Physical Education Disability Inclusion Training
Scottish Government through Education Scotland have agreed to invest £125,000 in courses delivered by Skills Development Scotland to up-skill a minimum 1000 teachers (primary and secondary) across all 32 Local Authorities with the knowledge, skills and experience to fully include disabled young people in quality PE and sports provision between 2012 and 2014.
Through supporting and up-skilling PE teachers and secondary/primary teachers, it is projected that disabled young people will engage in an active lifestyle, enjoy physical education in school and participate in sport at the level of their choice. It should also result in greater awareness and understanding of disability by the whole school community.
3) Scottish Community Development Centre ( SCDC)
The Scottish Government granted SCDC £135,000 over 2 years to take forward the Legacy for Communities Programme.
The programme will build on the existing community engagement currently being supported by the local authorities Legacy Leads and will add value to their work by offering skilled support in engaging all sections of the community in the range of legacy activities happening as a result of hosting the Games.
Some examples of projects they have been working with that are advancing equality of opportunity are:
- Action for Children Scotland are delivering a programme called the Inverclyde Youth Commonwealth Games which will bring the games to disadvantaged young people in Inverclyde.
- Argyll Activities is a community project based in Ardrishaig and is part of the Ardrishaig Community Development Trust. The Project offers a wide variety of sporting and outdoor opportunities to the residents of Argyll. Through the Commonwealth Games Legacy Programme the Project has been engaging with Argyll sports clubs and the disability community to find out what sporting activities disabled people are currently interested in, what the barriers are to getting involved and what will enable existing clubs to be genuinely inclusive. Recognising that the issues/barriers will differ from area to area, Argyll Activities has engaged with sports clubs and disabled people using an online survey and focus groups in Campbeltown, Oban, Dunoon and Helensburgh.
- Central & West Integration Network has been supported by the Legacy for Communities Programme to organise a community engagement event for its members and across the wider community of Central and West Glasgow. The community engagement event will include information on the various activities and services available from member organisations, what the Commonwealth Games involves and opportunities for dialogue about what a positive legacy for the local communities might look like. The event will target a number of BME communities through member organisations of the network. The event will also include some of the sporting activities to give participants a flavour of what the Games will entail.
- Sauchie Community Council is working in partnership with other local stakeholders to deliver a Clackmannanshire wide Commonwealth Games legacy event. This will involve communities coming together to participate in community sporting activities for all levels in order to address territorial, intergenerational and discriminatory issues.
THIRD SECTOR AND COMMUNITIES
The Scottish Government believes strongly in a strengthened third sector and has committed both resource and effort to that end. Many of the organisations in the sector operate to support communities and to deal with issues of inequality on the ground. The support which the Government provides to the sector is therefore important for equality groups across Scotland. Just Enterprise has a requirement to ensure that equality organisations are amongst those benefitting from its provision.
The Equality budget enables work to be taken forward to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. It supports projects undertaking activity across the range of characteristics as well as developing the capacity of communities, supporting the equality infrastructure and contributing to the mainstreaming of equality.
Violence Against Women
Safer Lives: Changed Lives, our shared approach to tackling violence against women, was published in 2009 in collaboration with COSLA. It is a statement of intent containing a shared definition and examples of good practice. Safer Lives was helpful in encouraging local multi agency partnerships to widen their work from domestic abuse to violence against women and the shared definition was a key step forward.
We now intend to produce, by the end of 2013, an integrated violence against women strategy for Scotland, which will lay the basis to take this work, both locally and nationally, to a new level through 2014 and beyond.
The Strategy will:
- set out the range of ways in which Government, and our partners, can reduce or end, and respond to violence against women
- capture what is effective in tackling violence against women, and what might be tried, in order to maximise the resources we are currently investing
- map the current work focused on addressing violence against women at a national level and carry out a literature review of what works to tackle violence against women
- use the evidence gathered to inform the strategic direction of violence against women work in Scotland. This will ensure that future action to reduce the incidence of violence against women (and its multiple negative effects) is delivered in a manner which recognises the complexity of the issue and results in positive outcomes for women and families.
As violence against women impacts on a range of agendas, a number of Directorates across Government are involved in taking action to address it, most notably Health, Justice and Education. Significant resources are being committed to tackling violence against women across the policy areas above.
Violence also affects people in same sex relationships and some men are abused by their female partners. Trans women can be particularly vulnerable and we are funding projects to raise awareness about these areas and provide support to victims.
We have also supported Voice against Violence.
British Sign Language
A proposed Private Members Bill was lodged in 2012 and the consultation ended in November. The findings of the consultation are expected to be published later this year. The Bill highlights a need to increase the rights of parents, siblings, grandparents etc. to access BSL classes, to meet the communication needs of children. It is also suggested that Scottish Ministers provide guidance and support for public authorities and facilitate the availability of BSL for families of deaf children.
Funding of £301,000 has been provided for 2 years to 2015 to a consortium of deaf organisations to appoint two national policy officers to improve equality of opportunity for deaf people by supporting public authorities seek solutions which complement existing and emerging legislation, policy and service delivery.
Other strands of work on BSL such as core costs, capacity building and self-directed support are supported through various streams of Scottish Government funding. A national BSL and language access working group will collaborate with the Scottish Government to gather up to date and meaningful data on the deaf community and BSL users.
Gypsies/Travellers are amongst the most discriminated against communities in Scotland and their experiences were well documented in the recent and previous inquiries conducted by the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Government welcomed the Committee's report and is considering the recommendations to establish how best to address the needs highlighted. We have established a cross-government group to take this work forward and will respond to the Committee in due course.
We continue to review the existing and emerging evidence on the Gypsy/Traveller population and their service usage and requirements and look forward to the information which the census may be able to provide later this year.
We are supporting a number of activities focused on supporting the Gypsy/Traveller community such as the work of MECOPP which is designed to assist Gypsy/Traveller carers, Article 12 which is working with young Gypsies/Travellers and the Scottish Traveller Education Project.
Asylum Seekers and Refugee Integration
Although policy on asylum seekers and refugees is reserved to the UK Government, Scotland has a long-standing commitment to support the integration of asylum seekers and refugees from day one of arrival. The majority of asylum seekers and refugees have been based in Glasgow since the dispersal programme began in 2000, with a small number in Edinburgh.
We work to support the integration of asylum seekers and refugees through funding to the Scottish Refugee Council (£1.650 m in 2012-15) which delivers services which help integrate asylum seekers and refugees from day one of arriving in Scotland.
We also work closely with COSLA's Strategic Migration Partnership to help ensure integration and assist in planning for the delivery of essential services such as accommodation and transport. We are currently halfway through a year-long project to refresh the existing Refugee Integration Strategy. This review which is chaired by Dr Alison Strang from Queen Margaret University, will conclude in June 2013, with the recommendations being presented to Ministers for approval in September 2013.
The Scottish Government's 2008-11 Race Equality Statement set out our approach to race equality at that time. We are currently considering our approach to race equality over the next 3 years. We intend to publish a refreshed statement in the autumn, on which we will work with stakeholders. This will provide more detail on our plans and will coincide with the autumn budget considerations.
The 2008-11 Race Equality Statement was never intended to be a detailed description of all the work on race equality being undertaken either in the Equality Unit or across the Scottish Government - it was part of the Scottish Government's work across the range of policies and activities. However, it focused on the general activities to be taken forward by Ministers with regard to the overarching work on race equality.
The statement, which set the context for much of our work on race equality, was originally meant to cover the period 2008-11. However, much of it is still relevant and continues to inform the work we do today. We are aware though that the economic landscape in particular looks very different now compared to 2008. We know that by the time we reach 2015 it will have changed even more significantly and we need to be clear about how we can support organisations and communities to deliver race equality without the same financial dependence on Scottish Government funding which we have been able to provide to date. This sets the context as we prepare to refresh the race equality statement.
Below are some of the agency lead policies that are of benefit to equality groups.
Promoting Diversity and Equality: Developing Responsible Citizens for 21st Century Scotland
This publication aims to support schools and centres in promoting diversity and equality through all aspects of planned learning.
Focus on equality and diversity in school inspections
In advance of all inspections, headteachers are asked to provide information on what the school does to promote inclusion, equality and diversity. This information is used to inform the inspection activities, and to identify good practice and aspects for improvement.
Heritage Travel Subsidy Scheme for Schools
Historic Scotland works in conjunction with National Trust Scotland and New Lanark on the Heritage Travel Subsidy Scheme, a Scottish Government scheme which Historic Scotland administers on its behalf. It provides a subsidy towards the cost of travel for school groups who are visiting heritage sites on educational visits.
The scheme encompasses all Historic Scotland sites and some sites operated by the National Trust for Scotland, as well as New Lanark World Heritage Site. The scheme is open to any school in Scotland to apply for. However, should the scheme become oversubscribed (this has not happened to date) then the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation is used as a means to prioritise applications. This scheme targets a number of equality groups, but in the main young people who would not normally have access to these types of sites due to their situation, and encourages social inclusion.
Historic environment and minority ethnic communities
Historic Scotland provides funding to the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council which has the following aims with the funding (worth £50,000 per annum, in place for 2012-13 and 2014-15):
- Increased knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of the historic environment by minority ethnic communities in Scotland.
- Minority ethnic communities are more aware of open events being held by Historic Scotland.
- Historic Scotland have an increased understanding and opportunities to inter-trade with minority ethnic communities across Scotland.
- The wider communities and historic sector are aware of the positive benefits of the project.
Work of Historic Scotland's Volunteers
Historic Scotland place no upper age limits for volunteers and the Historic Scotland Rangers Service ( HSRS) has recently developed a Junior Rangers Scheme.
The volunteers are involved with a number of equality related projects:
- Health walks delivered that are led by Rangers and Volunteer Rangers (both are given specific training by Paths For All) targeting inactive people, those with mobility problems or mental illnesses. The walks are promoted through networks such as Scottish Association for Mental Health, within Holyrood Park notice boards, GP surgeries, physio clinics, pulmonary rehab, NHS service providers and other health practitioners, Weight Watchers, Scottish Slimmers, local shops, community centres and pharmacies.
- Rangers and Volunteer Rangers attend Edinburgh MELA to provide free activities. (The MELA is a festival of music, dance and the wider arts from around the world, with the express purpose of promoting understanding between people and advancing the cause of community coherence.)
- Rangers & Volunteer Rangers attending Redhall Razzmatazz event to provide free activities and SPACES conference to provide information relating to the listed opportunities - these events target Mental Health service users.
- Offering Practical Conservation Volunteering for groups such as Transition Access to Industry (former addicts) - once a month since April and Outlook Project (mental health service users).
Our volunteering also provides a number of services to the local community:
- Bus tours around Holyrood Park have been offered since last April to elderly care home/day care residents.
- HSRS have led guided walks for people who have suffered from illnesses such Alzheimer's or had head injuries.
- Offered "Holyrood Park Pioneer Award" for Upward Mobility (6 sessions last summer) - adults with physical and learning disabilities.
- HSRS carrying out various work with Garvald Edinburgh - adults with physical and learning disabilities.
- HSRS partnership development with BME Groups such as "Beyond the Veil" women's group from Blackhall Mosque to provide guided walks in Holyrood Park.
Transport Scotland provides sponsor and secretariat support to a Ministerial advisory non departmental public body called 'Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland' ( MACS). Members of the committee have been involved in policy development including a framing workshop for an equality impact assessment for the Blue Badge legislation, devising questions for a consultation on Blue Badge legislation, publicising the effects of abuse of the Blue Badge on legitimate Blue Badge users, advising on research on the effects and usage of the Blue Badge.
Colleagues in other parts of Transport Scotland are also being encouraged to make use of the committee's expertise. There will be an action in the Transport Scotland business plan for this year which will say:
"To ensure that MACS act as a key resource, providing advice and guidance on mobility and accessibility issues, in the development and implementation of policy throughout Transport Scotland".
National Concessionary Travel Scheme
Transport Scotland runs the National Concessionary Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People, which entitles people aged 60 or more or who meet one of a wide range of disability-based criteria to free bus travel within Scotland.
This contributes towards health and quality of life by making it easier for people who might otherwise be inhibited by poverty or disability to travel for recreation or to shop, access services or visit friends and family.
Blue Badge Scheme
The Blue Badge scheme provides a national arrangement throughout the UK of on-street parking concessions for disabled people.
Transport Scotland is responsible for the legislation which sets out the framework for the scheme in Scotland and local authorities are responsible for administration and enforcement of the scheme in their area. The eligibility criteria are set out in Regulations. Those who meet the specific criteria for a Blue Badge are able to maintain their independence by parking close to their destination when travelling as a driver or passenger in a car.
Email: Graeme Bryce, Graeme.Bryce@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House