9 EQUALITIES IMPACTS (Q16)
9.1 An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) was carried out prior to the introduction of the 2015 Act, and the Scottish Government intends that this will be updated as the draft regulations and statutory guidance are finalised. Thus, the consultation asked respondents for their views about what impacts the draft regulations and statutory guidance could have on vulnerable groups.
Question 16: What equalities impacts have you identified from the draft regulations and guidance at Annexes B and C to the consultation paper?
9.2 Thirty-six (36) respondents (32 organisations and 4 individuals) commented at Question 16. Some welcomed the efforts that had already been made to highlight and address equalities impacts through the previous EQIA. Specifically, respondents noted the changes made in the scheme to address impacts on people with disabilities and sensory impairments; and older people and their carers. However, around half the respondents (15) identified potential impacts from the draft regulations and statutory guidance on one or more specific groups with protected characteristics.
9.3 As part of this discussion, some respondents reiterated concerns they had raised earlier regarding the proposals: (a) to limit the number of CGs and CCGs to three per household per year (Questions 3 and 4), and (b) to prioritise families facing exceptional pressure (Question 6). These proposals were seen to discriminate, respectively, against women, and against single people or couples without children, including those who may have vulnerabilities or protected characteristics.
9.4 Respondents identified potentially adverse impacts for the following groups:
- Single people / couples without children: As discussed in Chapter 4, respondents thought the proposed prioritisation of families was discriminatory. While there was a view that the proposal to limit CG and CCG applications to three per household per year helped somewhat in addressing this inequality, the more common view was that single people were not being treated fairly in the draft statutory guidance. Respondents also pointed out an apparent contradiction between the draft regulations (section 6, paragraphs 4a-4e), which refers to provisions for ‘individuals’, and other statements in draft statutory guidance which suggest that families should be given particular regard.
- Disability: It was thought that the proposal to limit CG and CCG awards to three per household per year could disadvantage people with disabilities, as people with disabilities were more likely to live in households with other adults. People with learning disabilities, mental health issues or problems with addiction also have particular difficulties in managing their finances and so might have need of crisis funding on more than three occasions in a year. There was a call for Annex B of the draft statutory guidance to include a statement that income from Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments, along with payments for self-directed support and direct payments should be disregarded for the purposes of assessing low income.
- Women (including disabled women and migrant women): Again, as discussed in Chapter 4, respondents thought the proposal to limit awards to three per household would particularly disadvantage women. Migrant women were seen to be at particularly high risk of experiencing domestic violence, homelessness and destitution.
- Older people and their carers: The need to promote the SWF to older people and their carers (identified in the first EQIA) was highlighted. There was a suggestion that the scheme could be made more accessible to carers by including carers’ benefits among the indicators of low income; and permitting awards to be used for the specific needs that carers have (such as equipment to support their caring role).
- Black and minority ethnic groups: This includes refugees, migrants (those with indefinite leave to remain), and gypsy travellers. There was concern that some local authorities appeared to be rejecting applications that did not include a national insurance number. This was seen to discriminate against a range of individuals who were permitted to live in the UK, but had not yet received a national insurance number. It was also thought that regulation 4 (on residence) would discriminate against these same groups, and it was suggested that these groups should be added to the list of exemptions at 4(2)(b).
9.5 Finally, it was noted that the EQIA does not currently address sexual orientation and gender identity, and it was suggested that further consultation is undertaken with LGBT organisations. There was also a suggestion that experience of being in care (or looked after) should be equated with other protected equalities characteristics in the regulations and statutory guidance.
9.6 Other respondents made more general comments at Question 16. These discussed the importance of:
- Investigating the reasons for low take up of SWF grants among certain groups, and the reasons that certain groups (i.e. women) are over-represented in awards
- Improving access to SWF funding, information about the Fund and the means to apply (for example, by addressing language barriers, literacy, sight or hearing impairment, and the communication needs of people with disabilities and learning disabilities)
- Improving equalities monitoring – specifically, the recording of protected characteristics and vulnerabilities in relation to applications and decisions.
Email: Will Tyler