Communities, Social Security
The Communities, Social Security and Equalities portfolio has core responsibility for equality and human rights across government, tackling discrimination and promoting equal opportunity and equal outcomes across many key issues.
This portfolio’s spend focuses on providing opportunities to deliver good quality, sustainable and affordable housing; supporting regeneration activity within Scotland’s most deprived communities; leading planning reform and the design of quality places; and responding to UK Government welfare changes. The budget also supports the drive for social justice; tackling poverty (including fuel poverty); and strengthening the third sector and local communities.
Scottish Government funding through this portfolio also represents the vast majority of local authority income, paying for a wide range of services which are co-ordinated and delivered at a local level to meet locally agreed outcomes.
Key Strategic Priorities
The portfolio budget has continued its commitments to the provision of affordable housing, especially social rented housing, ensuring warm housing through energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty, and to social justice through place-based regeneration and other project work. The Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments have been protected to mitigate the negative impacts of major UK welfare changes. The Equality budget, which is important in a range of ways to delivering a fairer Scotland, has been increased. The Local Authority budget provides resources and fiscal flexibility whilst protecting key priorities of health, social care and education.
This portfolio is concerned with ensuring people get the support they need, whether in relation to housing, access to local public services, financial support through social security, maximising income and financial advice, or as a result of tackling discrimination they have experienced. This is most apparent in our work to tackle child poverty and is why we successfully introduced the Child Poverty Bill.
Tackling poverty and inequalities goes hand in hand with inclusive growth. Indeed, inclusive growth cannot be achieved when a significant number of children and adults live in poverty, and we know that people from ethnic minority groups, households with a disabled adult and lone parents are more likely to experience poverty.
This portfolio is at the heart of ensuring inclusive growth becomes a reality for all. Community-led solutions which deliver projects and services specific to community needs and aspirations through collaborative partnerships are the route through which improved economic, social and environmental outcomes can be achieved.
Equality Implications Of The Draft Budget 2018-19
The Scottish Government’s More Homes Scotland approach supports our bold and ambitious target to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the five years to March 2021, backed with investment of over £3 billion which is estimated to support between 12,000 and 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the construction and related sectors. We are also committed to preserving and expanding our social housing stock as part of creating a fairer society, and 70 per cent of the 50,000 affordable homes target will be for social rent. The social rented sector is a particularly important tenure for lone parent households and long-term sick and disabled people amongst others. The lower rents in this sector play an important role in protecting the after-housing-costs income of less-well-off households.
There will continue to be a correspondingly higher proportion of capital grant funding (rather than loan funding) in 2018-19 to reflect this need for social rented housing. This funding is part of the Scottish Government’s £1.754 billion resource planning assumption commitment to March 2021 which is giving councils and housing associations the certainty needed to increase the pace of delivery.
We will continue to support people on low to moderate incomes to purchase their own house with the support of an equity stake from the Scottish Government. This includes ongoing funding for the Open Market Shared Equity ( OMSE) Scheme in 2018-19. OMSE is available to help all first-time buyers – who tend to be younger than existing home-movers – and priority access to the scheme is given to those who may otherwise be disadvantaged in accessing home ownership. The OMSE priority groups include disabled people, older people (those aged 60 and over), armed forces personnel, and those currently living in the social rented sector.
The Help to Buy (Scotland): Affordable New Build and Smaller Developers Schemes also provides shared equity to people looking to own a new home and a total of £50 million will be available for these schemes in 2018-19. As of October 2017, the Help to Buy (Scotland) schemes provide additional support for older people by removing the requirement for those aged over 60 to take out a mortgage. As older people often find it more difficult than other groups to secure a mortgage, removing this requirement will allow them to access the scheme more easily and increase their chances of finding a home suitable for their needs.
We made more than £100 million available for fuel poverty and domestic energy efficiency during 2017-18. In 2018-19, the overall budget has been maintained at £114 million. Within this, we are continuing partnerships with related energy funding programmes to support Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme ( SEEP) pilots and meet the commitment in the 2016 Programme for Government to provide £0.5 billion for SEEP over four years.
Some key equality groups, as well as those households with the lowest incomes, are more likely than other groups to experience fuel poverty at present (50 per cent of older households and 90 per cent of households with weekly income of less than £200 were in fuel poverty in 2016). The eligibility criteria for Warmer Homes Scotland has been particularly designed to target help at vulnerable people (people in receipt of certain benefits, including older people and disabled people). We expect to help around 4,000 vulnerable households through preservation of funding for this scheme to make their homes warmer and more comfortable by installing a range of energy-saving measures.
Scottish Government funding for Home Energy Scotland has been maintained for 2018-19, enabling continuing links with national partners targeting low-income and vulnerable groups, including older people and disabled people experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty. In particular, we will continue to fund the Home Energy Scotland Homecare pilot, which will provide face-to-face advice and support to those people most vulnerable to fuel poverty in two rural areas, Dumfries and Galloway and Moray.
Homelessness disproportionately affects young people: 59 per cent of homelessness applicants were aged 34 or under in 2016-17. We have created an Ending Homelessness Together Fund of £50 million over 2018-23 to support prevention initiatives and to support our objectives of eradicating rough sleeping and transforming temporary accommodation.
During 2018-19, we will continue to maintain funding of £10 million to Registered Social Landlords to carry out housing adaptations that will help their older and disabled tenants live safely and independently at home.
The Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme funding has been maintained, providing funding to national voluntary housing and homelessness organisations to help vulnerable people and to provide training to those that provide these services. The bids received are assessed on the basis of the approach taken to consideration of equality issues (among other criteria). Groups who benefit include homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, disabled people, older people, refugees, asylum seekers and minority ethnic communities, as well as women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.
Social Justice and Regeneration
Building a fairer and more equal country is at the heart of this government’s ambitions, and the Social Justice and Regeneration budgets contribute to this via a focus on both people and place. In 2018-19, the Social Justice budget is £27.8 million, an increase of £20.9 million (from £6.9 million in 2017-18). This budget invests in key priorities emerging from the ‘Fairer Scotland Action Plan’ ( FSAP), which aims to reduce poverty and tackle inequality.
The introduction of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, which established ambitious targets to reduce poverty, will reduce negative outcomes for children as they grow up. Investment here should benefit women’s incomes, particularly those of lone parents (the vast majority of whom are women). Minority ethnic households and households with disabled adults or children are much more likely to experience poverty, so action to reduce poverty should have significant impacts on these groups.
The Scottish Government has announced a £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund over the period of the first Child Poverty Delivery Plan, with the majority of funding available in future years to test new ideas. In addition, £1.5 million will provide for a Family Financial Health Check Guarantee to help families with children claim all that they are entitled to, and to access the best deals on financial products, services and energy bills. These initiatives complement bigger investments in early learning and childcare, housing, and the new best start grant that will also provide important assistance to low-income families. A range of other important initiatives will be set out in the Delivery Plan, helping us make real progress towards our new child poverty targets.
The first annual progress report  of FSAP, published in November 2017, set out a range of new social justice priorities, including a specific commitment to provide access to free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities. This new commitment in the budget will support access to this basic necessity.
The budget will continue to fund advice services to support income maximisation and navigate UK Government welfare cuts for the most vulnerable groups in society and provide measures to tackle food insecurity. It also supports a range of third sector organisations that work on this agenda, including the Poverty Alliance and the Poverty Truth Commission.
In addition, £125,000 will be made available in 2018-19 (with a similar amount indicated for 2019-20) to help local authorities who are wishing to pilot elements of a citizen’s income develop their proposals further. Although these pilots are at an early stage, we would expect any citizen’s income intervention to look to deliver positive equality outcomes as a key determinant of its success.
We will invest in regeneration activity, including delivery of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund ( RCGF) in partnership with local government. The RCGF has invested in over 90 projects across Scotland since 2014 supporting locally developed regeneration projects that involve local communities, helping to support and create jobs and build sustainable communities. We will also support regeneration through the SPRUCE infrastructure investment loan fund, the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund and continued support of Clyde Gateway.
We believe strongly in supporting communities to tackle poverty on their own terms. Through our £20 million Empowering Communities Fund, we are supporting over 300 community organisations to deliver locally identified priorities to tackle poverty and inequality in a responsive way. The fund impacts on thousands of lives across the country, supporting community-led approaches (including money advice, childcare, training and up-skilling, healthy eating initiatives and volunteering opportunities), all of which can help to directly tackle inequality as well as promoting inclusive growth.
Building on what we know works, we have used this fund to lever in additional money from the European Social Fund ( ESF) to create the Aspiring Communities Fund. This will support communities to work collaboratively with partners to accelerate the design and delivery of community-led initiatives that tackle poverty, inequality and exclusion, and contribute to ESF interventions to support our most deprived and fragile communities.
The Scottish Government will become responsible for some of the benefits currently delivered by the UK Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP), including a range of ill health and disability benefits (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, and Attendance Allowance).
As part of work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government has established and funded Social Security Experience Panels. The panels will work with people who have recent experience of benefits currently delivered by DWP to help the government design a new social security system. Over 2,400 volunteers from across Scotland have signed up to be panel members, helping to design and test the new social security system to ensure it works for them. The written material used for recruitment to the panel has followed accessibility guidance, and all panel events have been held in accessible locations across Scotland, ensuring that attendees’ support needs are met.
The Scottish Welfare Fund ( SWF) acts as a safety net for vulnerable people on low incomes by providing Crisis Grants which help those facing disaster or emergency situations, and Community Care Grants which help people live independently, preventing the need for institutional care. Since 2013, 265,000 low-income households have been supported, including more than 87,000 households with children. As an interim measure, the Scottish Welfare Fund will also be used to help mitigate housing costs for 18 to 21 year olds who are not eligible to claim the housing cost element of Universal Credit. The SWF has benefited from consistent investment levels for the last five years. Funding for the SWF (including administration) remains at £38 million in 2018-19, following the implementation of new review mechanisms by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
The Scottish Government has increased investment in Discretionary Housing Payments ( DHPs) which provide further assistance with housing costs for those entitled to Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, and has set aside a total budget (including administration) of £62.2 million in 2018-19. DHPs are also used to compensate local authorities for the cost of fully mitigating the ‘bedroom tax’ (cuts to housing benefit in the social rented sector introduced by the UK Government in April 2013). At the time of introduction, it was estimated that 80 per cent of affected Scottish households contained someone with a disability, so this investment is particularly important for disabled people. DHPs were fully devolved in April 2017 and the DHP budget commitment of £62.2 million will mean that the Scottish Government will continue to fully mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax until it can be formally abolished in Scotland. This will be through Universal Credit flexibilities and will be dependent on full roll-out.
For the first time since 2010-11, the Equality budget has seen an increase of 12 per cent. This increase demonstrates the value Scottish Ministers place on supporting a more equal and inclusive society, and underlines the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to advancing equality and tackling inequality. We will invest this additional resource in strategic equality, human rights and cohesive communities work in order to deliver on our commitment to respecting, protecting and implementing human rights for everyone in Scotland, and to embedding equality, dignity and respect in everything we do.
The increase in this budget directly supports the Scottish Government’s overall purpose and contributes to realising our overarching vision of a Scotland where every member of society is able to live with human dignity. The Scottish Government recognises that equality, social justice and inclusive growth are interconnected, and that action to give effect to international human rights treaties requires concerted action to promote genuine equality of opportunity and esteem for all. An increase in financial commitment in 2018-19 will enable us to further advance that work, as well as undertaking additional activity which both directly improves lived experience for individuals and communities in Scotland and implements our domestic and international obligations. In doing so, we will continue to build on Scotland’s reputation as one of Europe’s most progressive and inclusive national jurisdictions.
In the recent UK examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in its concluding observations, the Scottish Government’s progressive approach to disability equality – specifically ‘A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People’, our Accessible Travel Framework, and the manner in which engagement with disabled people was taken forward in the process of creating a new social security system – was singled out by the Committee as deserving of recognition.
In line with our commitment to improve access to information and services for our citizens whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language ( BSL), the Scottish Government took a highly consultative approach to the development of the BSL National Plan following the introduction of the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015. In this financial year, alongside the implementation of a number of national actions, increased resource will support public bodies in their duties with regards to the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 to engage with BSL users to inform the content of their own BSL plans to be published by October 2018.
Scotland has a progressive approach to human rights, equality and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex ( LGBTI) people. Increased resource for this sector to just under £1 million from the Equality budget last year has helped inform a range of work, including the development of Scottish Government consultations on the reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, and around the needs of intersex people. Continued investment in 2018-19 will inform action from the consultation responses and support LGBTI-inclusive activity in education and public services so that Scotland continues to be one of the best places for people of any sexual orientation or gender identity to live.
During 2018-19, the Equality budget will help to deliver the Scottish Government’s ambitions for women’s equality, with targeted financial support to organisations working to ensure that women’s experiences are reflected in policy making; to close the gender pay gap; and to improve the recruitment, retention and progression of women in STEM sectors. For the first time, the Equality budget will also support the newly established Advisory Council on Women and Girls, reporting directly to the First Minister. The Advisory Council will raise awareness of gender inequality, champion the rights of women and girls, and act as a catalyst for change.
This budget supports our ongoing commitment to address all forms of violence against women and girls ( VAWG) by providing continued investment of £11.8 million both for frontline services as well as advancing the strategic priorities within Equally Safe, our strategy to prevent and eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls. Combined resource from across the Justice and Equality budgets provides broader support for the VAWG sector to help address gendered attitudes and inequalities through the implementation of our ‘Equally Safe Delivery Plan’ published on 24 November 2017. Funding will support the development of a national campaign to tackle sexual harassment and sexism; the development of an Equally Safe accreditation scheme for employers; expansion of Rape Crisis Scotland’s sexual violence prevention work in schools; and scoping out the capability of public services to respond effectively to VAWG with a view to developing a sustainable model of capacity building in this area. Funding will also continue to support a range of local domestic abuse and sexual assault services across Scotland that support women and children who have experienced gendered violence.
A significant amount of work is already underway regarding the progression of race equality in Scotland, most notably through implementation of the Race Equality Framework. This sets out a long-term partnership approach for promoting race equality and tackling racism and inequality from 2016-2030. This budget will help deliver a range of outcomes and activities set out in the recently published Race Equality Action Plan, including addressing issues minority ethnic women face around employment and to invest in developing the skills and understanding for young people to participate in local and national decision-making processes as part of the Year of Young People 2018 programme.
In addition to specific Scottish Government-led activities for Gypsy/Travellers as set out in the Race Equality Action Plan, we have also established a Ministerial Working Group chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, which will determine priorities for action and drive forward the changes required to begin making improvements for Gypsy/Travellers across a range of issues.
The Scottish Government is in the process of responding formally to recommendations emerging from the Universal Periodic Review of the UK’s human rights record, conducted by the United Nations in 2017. There are also ongoing programmes of implementation under individual human rights treaties, including the initiatives already noted above which address particular challenges in areas such as gender inequality, race discrimination and the rights of disabled people. Additional activity will be carried out in 2018-19 to facilitate the participation of Scottish civil society in work which explores how Scotland can place even greater emphasis on respecting, protecting and implementing human rights. The Expert Advisory Group announced in the Programme for Government 2017-18 will lead a participative process and make recommendations on how Scotland can continue to lead by example, including in relation to economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
Resource will also support initiatives to tackle intolerance and extremism and to build resilience within Scottish communities against divisive narratives. That includes in the context of Brexit, where the Scottish Government remains unequivocal in its insistence of fully securing and protecting the rights of everyone living in Scotland, including non- UK EU nationals.
The launch of our hate crime campaign, #HateHasNoHomeInScotland, marks the beginning of an ambitious programme of work following recommendations made by the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion. A multi-agency delivery group and advisory panel will look to build on progress made in targeting people who have experienced or witnessed hate crime to raise awareness of what hate crime is and how to report it, supporting greater community cohesion. We will continue to work with faith groups and others to identify those individuals who are most vulnerable to messages of hate to steer them towards a different path. In recognition of the diversity of different faiths in Scotland and to encourage understanding across religious and cultural boundaries, our funding for Interfaith Scotland and local interfaith work will help to foster more inclusive communities through the promotion of interfaith dialogue.
In 2018-19, the Equality budget will continue to support a range of organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers. We will work with our partners, including COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council, to implement the second ‘New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy’ which supports all refugees and asylum seekers to integrate and rebuild their lives from the day they arrive in our communities. Almost 2,000 refugees have been welcomed to Scotland under the Syrian Resettlement Programme since October 2015. This target was set as part of a five-year programme, however, the dedication and hard work of Scotland’s local authorities has meant that this number has been reached in little over two years.
The Equality budget will also support the roll-out of a Family Reunion Crisis Grant Fund – a commitment of the Scottish Government to simplify access to crisis grants for refugee families arriving in Scotland under Family Reunion rules. This will ease the process for families settling in a new country by helping to meet their immediate needs during the first days following their arrival.
The varied skills and expertise of older people and the valuable contribution they make to Scottish society continue to be recognised by this government. This budget will support a renewed focus on work to reduce inequalities faced by older people.
Additional resource for the Equality budget will provide a fund of £500,000 per annum to deliver the aims of the Scottish Government’s proposed social isolation and loneliness strategy. The intention of the fund is to support the work of frontline grassroots organisations to tackle social isolation and loneliness in communities across Scotland.
Key to equality progression is the outcomes-focused approach taken in policy development across the Scottish Government. The introduction of the socio-economic duty will make it the responsibility of public sector bodies to consider ways in which to reduce poverty and promote equality for Scotland’s population. Although the suite of equality outcomes published in April 2017 provides a particular focus on themes such as VAWG, mental health, and education; training and mainstreaming work will ensure that across the Scottish Government, policy and legislation continues to be assessed for its impact on equality. The Equality budget will help ensure that policy development is informed by the views and voices of equality communities and stakeholders in order to bring about positive change.
Scotland has a strong and dynamic third sector, which plays a crucial role in the drive for social justice and inclusive economic growth. It is also essential to the reform of public services, and to the wellbeing of our communities. The sector plays a vital role in helping to advance equality, and in supporting communities most impacted by discrimination and disadvantage.
This budget helps to support third sector organisations in their work with individuals and communities across Scotland. Many of these organisations work closely with communities of interest and of place to tackle inequality and tough social issues at source. This budget will also support work to provide the third sector with greater funding stability and the opportunity for longer term planning and development of its role in supporting communities and tackling inequality.
We are ambitious in our plans to realise our vision for volunteering and the role volunteers can play in shaping the lives of their communities. The Third Sector budget has been maintained at £24.5 million to do more to support groups currently facing barriers to engaging in their communities, including disabled people, older people and people out of work. We will work with young people throughout the Year of Young People 2018 to ensure they can contribute on the issues that matter to them.
The third sector plays an important role in addressing poverty and disadvantage. In recognition of this, we will use the European Social Fund programme, matched by our own resources, to invest in and strengthen Scotland’s social economy, enabling organisations to do even more to transform the lives of disadvantaged individuals and families.
Investment will help to deliver on the co-produced 10-year social enterprise strategy by implementing the 92 specific actions identified by ‘Building a Sustainable Social Enterprise Sector in Scotland: 2017-2020’. It will also help to realise the full potential of the innovative social enterprise sector where profits made are reinvested into specific social objectives, for example, delivering local community projects or services, creating employment for disadvantaged people, or protecting the environment.
Credit unions provide ethical and affordable financial services to people from all walks of life, including those facing financial exclusion, by reinvesting all their profits for the benefit of their members rather than shareholders. The Scottish Government recognises the importance of continuing to work to raise the profile of credit unions and helping to grow their capacity, therefore this budget will deliver a national credit union awareness raising campaign as well as continuing to implement the recommendations of ‘Scotland’s Credit Unions: Investing in Our Future’.
Local government provides a wide range of services and plays a major role in local Community Planning Partnerships ( CPPs) that are essential to the delivery of the outcomes that matter to the people of Scotland.
The funding provided by the Scottish Government represents the vast majority of local authorities’ income, and is allocated using a needs-based formula. This methodology takes account of demographics, disadvantage and various other considerations and allocates resources based on relative need, including age and levels of deprivation. However, each local authority decides how to spend its total available finances based on its understanding of local needs and priorities, guided by a set of national and local outcomes. The Equality Act 2010 and associated specific duties published in May 2012 provides a framework to help local authorities pay due regard to equality issues.
In addition, the Scottish Government is committed to increasing the use of Participatory Budgeting which is recognised internationally as a way for local people to have a direct say in how and where public funds are spent. Our commitment in Programme for Government is to work with local government on having at least one per cent of council budgets subject to Community Choices budgeting. Supporting allocation of public money in this way is anticipated to ensure it is directed where it is needed most, impacting positively on equality outcomes.
Local government equality considerations focus on general expenditure by Scotland’s 32 local authorities, funded through the local government settlement and policies around council tax, non-domestic rates and other locally-generated income. Other portfolios are responsible for assessing the impacts of any changes in grants that are ring-fenced for spending on a particular type of activity.
In 2018-19, the Scottish Government will continue to support spending on health and social care by providing £355 million from the NHS Boards to Integration Authorities. Within the overall local government finance settlement total, an additional £66 million is included to support a range of financial pressures facing local authorities in 2018-19. These include support for the implementation of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, maintaining our joint commitment to the Living Wage (including our agreement to extend it to cover sleepovers following the further work we have undertaken) and an increase in the Free Personal and Nursing Care Payments.
£88 million will continue to be made available to local authorities to support work on maintaining the national pupil/teacher ratio at 2017-18 levels, and securing places for all probationers who require this under the teacher induction scheme.
In addition, £120.5 million of Pupil Equity Funding will continue in 2018-19 as part of the local government settlement. This is targeted at closing the poverty-related attainment gap in education. As educational attainment tends to be lower for more disadvantaged pupils, the increase in funds should help to address this inequality.
The Scottish Government will also allocate an additional £52.2 million and £150 million of capital to local authorities in 2018-19 to support the expansion in funded Early Learning and Childcare ( ELC) entitlement to 1,140 hours by 2020. This additional funding will enable further investment in the ELC workforce – increasing the size of the workforce and equipping existing staff with new skills – and in infrastructure development to expand capacity in ELC provision. This builds on the first phase of revenue and capital funding provided to local authorities in 2017-18.
The Scottish Government believes that the package of measures set out in the Draft Budget provides local authorities with the necessary resources and fiscal flexibility that they need to protect key priorities around investment in education and health and social care.
The Scottish Government’s reforms to Council Tax make local taxation fairer by reducing the amount lower banded properties pay, as a proportion of property value, relative to households in bands E to H. To protect households with below median income from the impact of the changes, a relief scheme is in place for those living in the highest value properties.
In 2017-18, a 25 per cent increase in the child allowance of this relief benefited up to 77,000 households. This relief is being maintained in 2018-19. The Scottish Government has not introduced the two child cap (which now applies to many UK benefits) to the scheme, and has excluded income and lump sum payments made under the new Bereavement Support Payment.
From April 2018, to support care-experienced young adults as they adapt to life in independent accommodation, we will make all care leavers exempt from Council Tax.
The Local Government portfolio includes overall policy for non-domestic rates, including the small business bonus scheme. As this generally relates to taxes on businesses, it is not straightforward to identify direct equality impacts; however, they are an important part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to driving economic recovery.
Overall, the Communities, Social Security and Equalities budget has the potential for significant positive impacts across society and particularly for equality groups. Local authority budgets continue to offer resource and fiscal flexibility as well as reflecting key priorities of health and social care and educational attainment. Spend on social security has been increased, demonstrating our commitment to mitigating the negative impact of UK Government welfare changes. Equality spend has increased and third sector and regeneration investment has been protected which, along with a significant increase in social justice funding, ensures that organisations can continue to tackle poverty and remove barriers for equality groups. Portfolio spend on housing has also been maintained, with particular commitments to increasing the supply of affordable and social rented housing and to tackling fuel poverty.