Addressing race inequality in Scotland: the way forward

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

G. Gypsy/Travellers

64. Research evidence published in ' How Fair is Scotland' and confirmed by Scottish Government's analysis of the 2011 Census shows that on every indicator of what is required to live a happy, productive and fulfilled life, Gypsy/Travellers are worse off than any other community in Scotland. The high levels of poverty experienced by Gypsy/Travellers is linked to poor health and the lack of employment and integral to all these issues is the provision of sites across the country. The Scottish Human Rights Commission in its evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee in 2013 described the discrimination towards Gypsy/Travellers as 'the last bastion of respectable racism.'

65. Despite parliamentary enquiries and reviews of progress, various reports, strategies and initiatives, little has changed for Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland. They face much the same problems that have troubled them for decades. In their ' Gypsy/Travellers and Care' Report, the 2012 Equal Opportunities Committee concluded that the evidence pointed to "repeated failures: recommendations that have not been implemented and initiatives too small scale or short term ". A point repeated in the 2013 Equal Opportunities Committee Report ' Where Gypsy/Travellers Live' which calls for strong leadership at all levels and the need for a powerful Ministerial Voice.

66. The Scottish Government has publicly stated its commitment to ensuring equality of opportunity for all Scotland's Gypsy/Travellers as a particularly marginalised group. To make good this commitment,

Action 67: I urge the Scottish Government to implement the recommendations in both enquiry reports in full. If all recommendations were met properly, with Gypsy/Travellers being involved as full partners in planning and delivery, this should deliver genuine improvements in life chances over a relatively short period.

Action 68: As the portfolio Minister with responsibility for Gypsy/Travellers, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security & Equalities should oversee a renewed focus on their rights to health care, accommodation, education and employment.

67. And in addition the Scottish Government should;

Action 69: Develop, in conjunction with state delivery partners and representatives of the Gypsy/Traveller Community, a national strategy with an action plan; the impact of which must be reviewed against the baseline measures in the " Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland – A Comprehensive Analysis of the 2011 Census" and annually reported on to the Equality & Human Rights Committee.

Action 70: Adopt a 'zero tolerance' approach to discrimination which both Inquiries find is the biggest barrier to site development and to full access to health care, education, and employment for Gypsy/Travellers. For instance, the Government should investigate ways to mitigate against the disadvantage of the plan led approach of the Scottish Planning System to Gypsy/Travellers ambitions for sites in new build areas.

Action 71: Establish robust mechanisms for addressing the housing, health, education and employment needs of Gypsy/Travellers where monitoring and reviews of service provision indicate that these are not being met; given that the current reliance of guidance and 'monitoring through dialogue' has not proved successful in achieving the positive outcomes for Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland.

Action 72: Make clear that the status quo is not an option, that any proposed action in the Action Plan must be able to answer the question what difference will this action/policy make to the circumstances of Gypsy/Traveller communities and what needs to be done differently.


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