by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution
and the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities
We are pleased to present the Scottish Government's equality statement on its tax and spending proposals for 2017-18.
Advancing equality is at the heart of everything we do. This is the eighth Equality Budget Statement ( EBS) published by the Scottish Government to accompany a Draft Budget. In many respects, the EBS is world-leading, with equality considerations central to how we approach our spending plans as a government. The EBS also sets out our plans for inclusive growth, reflecting the importance we place on tackling socio-economic disadvantage.
This commitment to a fairer, more equal Scotland is clear from the priorities set out in the Programme for Government - including, for example, its focus on gender equality; on strengthening legislation on board diversity; on gender recognition and domestic abuse. And it is explicit in the decisions made in this Draft Budget. Supported by a responsible approach to taxation, the Draft Budget makes key investments in healthcare - a real-terms uplift for the NHS in Scotland and additional funding for the integration of adult health and social care; in educational attainment; and in the expansion of early learning and childcare - delivering key infrastructure for Scotland and better outcomes for children.
The Draft Budget also has a focus on delivery, making a real difference on the ground, as reflected in a suite of recent publications - the Fairer Scotland Action Plan; the Disability Delivery Plan and the Race Equality Framework. The Equality, Third Sector and Empowering Communities budgets - which support our efforts to build a fairer Scotland - have all been protected.
This Draft Budget also invests in drivers of growth, such as transport, higher and further education, housing, energy and the labour market. But we know that economic growth is constrained by inequality, so we have ensured that our investment is good for equality too. We continue to provide free bus travel on local or Scottish long-distance buses for Scotland's older people and disabled people, a key support for many. Our investment in 50,000 warm and affordable homes includes 35,000 for social rent, which is a particularly important tenure for lone parent households and long-term sick and disabled people. Increased funding for energy efficiency addresses fuel poverty in Scotland, which is experienced by older people, disabled people, and low income households in particular.
In terms of employment, we are providing the resources for our Opportunities for All initiative, our Labour Market Strategy and to build on the outcomes of the Fair Work Convention, underpinned by the Scottish Business Pledge - all of which promotes fairer work and tackles a range of equality challenges. And our public sector pay policy, published alongside the Draft Budget, is aimed at being both fair and affordable, targeting support at the lowest paid, many of whom are women, and maintaining our commitment to the Living Wage.
We also continue to do all we can to mitigate the worst effects of UK Government welfare reform, including the bedroom tax, while developing a devolved social security system for Scotland based on dignity and respect. The new social security system will be of particular interest to disabled people and to those on low incomes because of the powers being devolved, but this investment is one in which everyone in society has an important stake.
In preparing the EBS this year, we are as ever grateful to EBAG, the Equality Budget Advisory Group, for its continuing support and advice. We look forward to working with the group in the year ahead.
In summary, this Draft Budget - and its accompanying equality statement - will help deliver a more inclusive and resilient economy, and with it a more equal and a fairer Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities
Email: Paul Tyrer