Addressing race inequality in Scotland: the way forward

A report from the Scottish Government's independent adviser on race equality in Scotland.

A. General/Cross Cutting Issues


1. In this report, I use the term 'Minority Ethnic' ( ME) to refer to the 8% of the Scottish population whose self-defined ethnicity is not white Scottish/ British. I also use the term 'Black and Minority Ethnic' ( BME) to refer to people from visible minorities. They represent 4% of Scotland's population. The word 'Black' is a recognition of a political identity. This does not imply that all those who face racial inequalities identify in this way.

2. However, I also wish to make clear that the implementation of actions in this report will have to be sensitive to the differences between and within, minority ethnic communities and across regions.

Policy Co-ordination

3. While there is a general acknowledgement about the importance of joined up working as well as a commitment to advance race equality and tackle racism, in my view, inclusive policy making is not yet embedded in the DNA of the Scottish Government or public bodies in Scotland. By that I mean that whilst there is an awareness of the need to address this issue, in some cases there is no sense of "ownership"; and advancing race equality is only a small part of a broad range of complex and demanding policy portfolios. As a result, it often gets overlooked or de-prioritised. We will not make the progress which we all want to see unless the key issues of greater co-ordination and accountability are addressed.

Action 1: The Scottish Government should put in place new governance arrangements across directorates at a sufficiently senior level to ensure greater co-ordination on equality with a particular focus on race equality and intersectionality.

Action 2: The Scottish Government's Executive Team should appoint one of their members to be the lead official on race equality matters; and review race equality issues on a regular basis as part of its general oversight arrangements.

Action 3: The Scottish Government should require all public bodies which are subject to Ministerial control to have in place similar arrangements at a senior level.

Action 4: The Scottish Government should engage with local authorities and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) to secure a similar commitment of scrutiny and accountability from the wider public sector.

4. In addition, given the number of race equality initiatives, inquiries, research reports, and reviews there have been, I am convinced that we have a pretty good idea what the problems are and what the barriers are that people from minority ethnic communities face. What we need now is to find out what has worked, and what hasn't worked; to identify the blockages that require shifting and to challenge officials to come up with new and innovative ways to tackle them.

Action 5: The Scottish Government should instruct Directors of Service to review previous race equality initiatives that are relevant to the delivery plan with a view to identifying blockages to implementation and learning the lessons from those initiatives.

Data Collection

5. A recurring theme in my conversations across all policy areas confirmed the findings in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, ' Poverty and Ethnicity: Key Messages For Scotland', that there is a lack of adequate data in key areas. This includes: incomplete recording of ethnicity; poor monitoring; a lack of information by public authorities on the take up of services; and gaps in the overall data landscape at a national level. Having a more coherent data structure would not only help identify where the problems lie but also increase our ability to tackle specific issues within the context of limited resources.

6. Last year the UK Government proposed the creation of a new Race Disparity Audit System. My view, from the information provided and within the context of a toxic UK immigration debate at that time, in particular with schools and landlords in England being asked to report on possible illegal immigrants, was that it would not be in Scotland's best interests to participate in this initiative. I was also concerned that it would further fragment the current structure and systems for data collection and auditing in Scotland where there is already a requirement on all public bodies to collate and use ethnicity data as part of the wider Public Sector Equality Duty.

7. Having spent the best part of 2 years in producing the race equality framework, it is time for us to move on from defining and redefining the problem and to focus on developing a race equality delivery plan: which is the central purpose of this report.

8. It remains my view that by developing and improving on the structures and systems which we already have in Scotland, we can have an integrated, and cohesive system that more adequately meets our data collection and auditing needs with respect to race equality. Taken together, the recommended actions in this report on data collection, and on monitoring the provision of services to and the employment of minority ethnic communities, should provide the basis of a system that combines analysis with a programme of action to advance race equality and tackle race discrimination in Scotland.

Action 6: The recently published Equality Evidence Strategy has usefully identified key data gaps on race equality. The Scottish Government, in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission ( EHRC) in Scotland and state delivery partners, must now (in the first year of the plan) take action to begin to address these gaps.

Action 7: The Scottish Government must show leadership across the public sector to improve ethnicity data in a more proactive way. The aim here must be to move Public Bodies from being passive collectors of data to active agents using the data to tackle racial discrimination and inequality and enable the effective measurement and monitoring of policy implementation and impact.

Action 8: The Scottish Government needs to update its Equality Evidence Finder Web Resource on a more frequent basis to avoid users accessing out-of-date information. Survey managers and research staff across the Scottish Government analyst group should ensure that updating the Evidence Finder is part of the routine processes undertaken when publishing new data and other evidence.


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