12 Equalities And Business And Regulatory Impact Assessment
Equalities Impacts - effects and proposed changes (Q51 & Q52)
12.1 As part of the consultation, respondents were asked about the impact of the proposals on equality groups to help inform the Scottish Government's equality impact assessment of the proposals. The assessment is looking in particular at the impact on men and women, older/younger people, disabled people, those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, people from different ethnic groups and those with different religions and beliefs.
12.2 Respondents were asked three questions in relation to equalities impacts as follows:
Question 51 (a) Which equality groups, if any, do you think will be disproportionately affected by each of the proposals in this consultation paper?
Question 51 (b) How do you think they will be affected by each proposal (positively or negatively)?
12.3 Just 37% of respondents provided an answer to these questions. A large proportion of respondents (50%) did not provide a response to the question of which equality groups will be disproportionately affected by each of the proposals, whilst 13% did not think that any groups would be disproportionately affected.
12.4 Of those that responded, the most common groups identified were younger people, disabled people, older people or homeless people. An indication of the level of respondents who answered this question in relation to each group is provided below, with the percentages referring to the proportion of the 237 written responses. When suggesting how each of the groups will be affected by the proposals, nearly all of the respondents provided answers which were general to the overall consultation rather than in response to specific proposals.
- Younger people (about 9% of respondents) for instance as they are more likely to be accessing social housing for the first time, they may be less likely to understand the housing allocations process, they may require additional support and their low incomes may result in them accessing poorer housing;
- Older people (about 7% of respondents) who may have specific needs and requirements and their low income may result in them accessing poorer housing;
- Disabled people (about 7% of respondents) who have specific needs and requirements that may not be addressed through these proposals;
- Homeless people (about 4% of respondents) as the proposals do not lead to an increase in new housing;
- People with mental illnesses (about 4% of respondents) who have specific needs and requirements that may not be identified. This group could be subject to increased evictions due to the increased emphasis on antisocial behaviour and potential for learning difficulties to be considered as antisocial behaviour.
12.5 A number of other equalities groups were suggested by a smaller number of respondents including those with drug or alcohol problems, women who had experienced domestic abuse, those on lower incomes, single people and with drug and alcohol problems.
12.6 Nearly all of the respondents who felt that equality groups would be affected were of the view that they would be negatively affected. Some people however felt that local communities may benefit positively if the proposals lead to a reduction in antisocial behaviour. In addition, there was majority support for most of the proposals within the consultation document which means that a large number of respondents feel that the proposals will have positive impacts.
12.7 A few other respondents also felt that there was a need to ensure that greater flexibility for landlords still leads to the delivery of balanced and mixed communities. A few respondents felt that definitions would need to be clearer before an assessment could be undertaken, whilst a small number made the point that it was up to the Scottish Government to provide an assessment of the equalities impact of any measures they introduce.
12.8 The groups identified above were also referenced at various points within the main consultation. For instance, vulnerable individuals and groups in society such as disabled people who require adapted housing and older people featured prominently in views on the housing needs to be protected nationally (question 5). With regards to proposal 2 (considering income), a large proportion of respondents felt that the consideration of income could stigmatise the less fortunate groups in society, for example those unable to access employment due to illness or disability. For proposal 3 (considering home ownership) one of the main problems identified related to not considering individual circumstances, for instance when homeowners subject to domestic abuse cannot access their home are prevented from accessing social housing.
Question 52 What changes could we make to each of the proposals to address any adverse effect on the equality groups you have identified?
12.9 A limited number of responses were provided to this question by just 23% of respondents. Within these responses, some changes were suggested to address adverse impacts on equality groups. These included:
- A need to have safeguards, limitations, checks and balances to ensure that providing greater flexibility to landlords and communities to allocate and manage housing does not result in individual prejudices being reflected in the allocation and management of housing;
- Specify what proportion of lets in any area are to groups identified as a priority by 'landlord and community' and proportion to be let according to Government priorities and local housing lists;
- Providing the flexibility to create initial or starter tenancies and clarify the circumstances in which probationary tenancies will not revert to full tenancies;
- Providing greater support to tenants, including making use of multi-agency support networks;
- Use a 'person centred approach' to allocating and managing tenancies;
- Further clarification on the grounds on which the ownership of other properties can be discounted; and
- Improving hostel accommodation and links with social services which would assist groups such as single people without children, including men going through a divorce, and people with mental health, drug and/or alcohol problems.
Business and Regulatory Impacts - effects and proposed changes (Q53)
12.10 As part of the consultation, social landlords were asked about the business and regulatory impacts of the proposals, in particular the benefits and difficulties to organisations as well as any cost and resource implications and potential savings which could be achieved.
12.11 About 20% of respondents provided a response to this question. The main organisational benefits suggested included:
- Being able to chose the tenants to fit in with the local area (develop locally responsive allocations policies) and make a greater contribution towards creating sustainable communities;
- Greater flexibility to manage housing stock and meet the housing needs of customers; and
- Potential cost, time and resource savings in tackling antisocial behaviour.
12.12 A relatively small number of respondents suggested difficulties in implementing the proposal, which related to:
- The potential conflicts between these proposals and other legal duties for example in relation to homelessness, duties to families with children, Short SST legislation and welfare reform;
- The additional time which may be expended on issues such as dealing with appeals/reviews arising from decisions made, the processing of Short SSTs and income investigations; and
- Greater expectation on the landlord that all issues relating to antisocial behaviour can be 'cured' without evictions taking place.
12.13 Some costs and resource implications were suggested in relation to a number of areas already stated above and elsewhere (e.g. advice, legal costs, dealing with appeals, processing Short SSTs and investigating tenant incomes). At various points in the consultation it was felt that there may also be some negative impacts for social landlords in terms of the time and difficulties with obtaining and assessing information relating to issues such as antisocial behaviour, income and property ownership (for example see paragraphs 4.11, 5.9, 7.9, 8.17, 9.11 and 10.10).
12.14 Despite majority support for eight of the ten proposals, few respondents suggested specific savings arising from the proposals in response to question 53d which explored potential organisation savings. Of those that did respond, the savings suggested included voids being easier to fill, maintenance savings resulting from lower turnover and reduced vandalism and reduced costs in dealing with antisocial behaviour.
Email: Alix Rosenberg
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