Creating a Fairer Scotland - What Matters to You: A Summary of the Discussion So Far

The report presents a snapshot of the key issues raised by those who took part in Fairer Scotland discussions.

Respect and Dignity

Respect and dignity are strong themes that emerge from the discussion across a number of different topics. Ending discrimination of any kind and ensuring equality of opportunity for all are common points made.

A number of views are given on public attitudes. There is a want for people to have more trust and respect for each other, as well as being more accepting of others.

There are many comments that discuss negative media portrayal of certain sections of society and how this reinforces the stigma that exists around these groups and communities. More funding for local media to promote positive community stories is suggested to combat this, as is greater community voice more generally in the national media.

The way that people are treated by public services is a key point. This is particularly discussed in respect of social security and the welfare system.

There are many comments suggesting that the welfare system should be fairer, more helpful, provide security and treat everyone with respect. As part of this, a number of comments suggest that sanctions should be removed as a mechanism.

On specific welfare benefits, restoring lifetime awards for people with permanent or deteriorating conditions is one suggestion. Another is that fit for work assessments should take greater account of mental health status and GPs' recommendations to provide a rounded assessment.

A more personal, empathetic and compassionate service, offering tailored support for job seekers is also called for. Having a designated adviser is one idea offered as to how this could be achieved.

There is a view that all benefit claimants should be made fully aware of the benefits they are entitled to by right and that assistance should be offered to complete the necessary forms to make a claim.

Creating a more welcoming and less intimidating job centre environment is also discussed. The removal of security guards from the premises; provision of more privacy for job seekers; and creation of a more child-friendly space are some of the suggestions made as to how to achieve this.

As part of the Fairer Scotland process, there was extra effort made to speak to minority groups and equality groups. Some of the points raised have already been discussed in earlier sections of this report but there are a number of specific views offered by these communities of people around the broad theme of respect and dignity.

There are a number of calls for further inclusion of disabled people across all areas of society, particularly with respect to finding employment and in skills attainment across education.

Greater representation of minority ethnic communities in senior positions and in key decision making roles is also suggested.

Greater representation of women across society is raised, including that there should be a 50/50 gender split in company boardrooms and senior positions. Reducing the gender pay gap is another key issue.

The main issues in respect of the migrant and refugee population are that they should be allowed to contribute to Scottish society while they are awaiting the outcome of citizenship applications, through work, volunteering and/or education. One idea suggested is for a system that recognises the existing qualifications of migrants and allows them to access appropriate employment. There are also calls for a reduction in the wait for citizenship applications to be processed.

For non-English speakers, there are requests for more English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, along with greater provision of translation services in key public services such as schools and health environments.

Promotion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Intersex (LGBTQI) issues across society is suggested in order to generate greater awareness, with transgender issues a particular focus of the comments made. One suggestion is to raise more awareness of LGBTQI issues in schools to combat bullying and discrimination at an early age.

The key point raised relative to the Gypsy/Traveller community is that more needs to be done to include traveller communities in local areas, with one suggestion for them to be represented on community councils.

The re-integration of offenders into society is also raised. Providing adequate support to achieve this is the key issue, with suitable housing, tailored employment support and benefits in place on release, some of the ideas suggested.

The issue of care for older people is also discussed and how this needs a flexible approach. The issue of loneliness is raised as is the need to address social isolation of elderly people. Intergenerational activities is one suggested way of reducing isolation for older people.


Email: Paul Sloan

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