Embedding children's rights: position statement

The report sets out the progress made in relation to children's rights in Scotland since 2016.

2. General Measures of Implementation

Articles of the UNCRC: 4, 42 and 44(6)

This cluster group focuses on the structures and resources to implement the UNCRC, including legal and non-legal measures.

2.1 UK Withdrawal from the European Union (EU)

LOIPR request: 3(c) protecting children's rights in the context of UK withdrawal from the EU.

UK withdrawal from the EU does not directly affect the principal existing statutes which protect human rights in the UK, in particular the Human Rights Act 1998. It does however mean that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights can no longer be invoked as a matter of domestic law. That is a substantive change which is likely to mean that, in some instances, individuals in the UK will no longer be able to vindicate or uphold their fundamental rights to the same extent as was possible prior to EU exit. The Scottish Government's assessment of the impacts of Brexit on Scotland, including in relation to children and young people, was published in June 2021.

The EU alignment power contained in section 1 of the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity)(Scotland) Act 2021 allows for changes to European law in devolved areas to be implemented in Scotland by means of subordinate legislation where that is possible, in Scotland's interest and the most appropriate method by which to do so.

The Scottish Government has taken steps throughout the reporting period to hear the views of children and young people on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. In 2018, the Scottish Government provided funding to Children in Scotland to enable them to set up a Children and Young People's Panel on Europe, which was delivered in partnership with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights).

The Panel included members from all over Scotland, aged 8-19, and met several times to articulate the views of children and young people on Brexit and the issues it raised for them. Further funding was provided to allow this work to continue until September 2020.

The Panel identified EU funding as one of four areas of most concern to children and young people in the context of Brexit. The other three were: the economy, trade, and jobs; rights; and opportunities to work, study and travel. In their report, the Panel called for any losses to youth funding which arose through Brexit to be replaced. They also urged the Scottish Government to seek continued participation in Erasmus+. The Scottish Ministers, including the First Minister, met Panel members on a number of occasions, and issued statements supporting their work. Ministers noted the Panel's concerns, and these have helped inform continuing Scottish Government work in the aftermath of Brexit.

2.2 Review of the Human Rights Act 1998

LOIPR request: 5(d) proposals to revise the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Human Rights Act 1998 is one of the principal ways that internationally-recognised human rights are given legal effect in the UK, ensuring that vitally-important safeguards set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) are available to everyone. The Scottish Government has consistently made clear its support for the Human Rights Act in response to UK Government proposals for reform. This issue is discussed further in the Scottish Government's standalone Position Statement on the Universal Periodic Review (October 2022).

2.3 Furthering Human Rights in Scotland

The Scottish Government has accepted all 30 of the progressive, bold and ambitious recommendations from the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership for a new human rights framework for Scotland. The work of the Taskforce was informed by the All Our Rights in Law project facilitated by the Human Rights Consortium Scotland and the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC). The project included engagement with key groups of rights holders, including children and young people.

As part of taking forward the recommendations from the Taskforce, a new Human Rights Bill will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament during this parliamentary session. The Bill will incorporate, as far as possible within devolved competence, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Bill will also include a right to a healthy environment and provision to ensure equal access to everyone, including older people and LGBTI people, to the substantive rights contained in the Bill. We are currently developing proposals which we will consult formally on prior to introducing a Bill.

We are benefitting from the ongoing engagement and constructive input of many stakeholders, in particular, the Human Rights Bill Advisory Board, Executive Boardand Lived Experience Board. In a bid to make engagement more accessible to children, we have collaborated with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights), to create a specific Lived Experience Board for children and young people.

2.4 UNCRC (Incorporation)(Scotland) Bill

LOIPR request: 5(b) bringing domestic legislation in line with the UNCRC.

"Children's rights grow in Scotland, and now they're going to be incorporated into law, which is a really important and big step forward."

MCP, age 13, in conversation about education reform.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation)(Scotland) Bill (UNCRC Bill), seeks to incorporate the UNCRC and Optional Protocols 1 and 2[6] directly into Scots law subject to the limit of devolved competence. The UNCRC Bill would incorporate the vast majority of the UNCRC's provisions into Scots law and make provision to allow incorporation of those provisions of the UNCRC currently beyond devolved powers[7], if the powers of the Scottish Parliament change in the future.

The Bill was introduced on 1 September 2020, and unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament on 16 March 2021. In April 2021, a reference of certain provisions of the Bill was made by UK Law Officers to the UK Supreme Court and a hearing before the UK Supreme Court took place in June 2021. In October 2021, the UK Supreme Court delivered a judgment on the referral, finding each of the provisions referred by UK Law Officers to be outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. In May 2022, the Deputy First Minister made a statement to Parliament setting out how we propose to amend the Bill to address the Supreme Court judgment. He made clear that our intention is to address the Supreme Court's judgment by returning a revised Bill to Parliament via the Parliamentary Reconsideration stage as soon as practicable.

The Bill would deliver a proactive culture of everyday accountability for children's rights across public services in Scotland and would ensure that public authorities take proactive steps to ensure compliance with children's rights in their decision making and service delivery. Public authorities, including Health Boards and councils, and the Scottish Government itself, would be legally obliged to respect children's rights. If they do not, children, young people and their representatives would be able to use the courts to enforce their rights. The Bill would apply to all public functions that it is possible for the Scottish Parliament to cover, including public functions which are 'contracted out' to non-State actors such as private or third-sector bodies.

The Bill would provide that, for the purposes of the incorporated rights and obligations, a child is a person under 18 years.

The Bill goes beyond incorporating the provisions of the Convention to include a number of proactive measures of implementation. This includes measures to remove barriers that children and young people may face in realising their rights under the Bill and in accessing justice, such as: giving the Children and Young People's Commissioner in Scotland and the Scottish Human Rights Commission the power to bring or intervene in proceedings where a person claims that a public authority has acted (or proposes to act) in breach of the 'UNCRC requirements' defined by the Bill.

The UNCRC Bill would also require the Scottish Ministers to create a Children's Rights Scheme, setting out the arrangements they have, or would have in place, to comply with the duties contained in the Bill and to secure better or further effect of the rights of the child. The Scheme would need to include, for example, arrangements for the Scottish Ministers to:

  • Ensure that children are able to participate in the making of decisions that affect them, with access to such support and representation (for example from children's advocacy services) as they require to do so.
  • Identify and address any situation where a child's rights are (or are at a significant risk of) not being fulfilled.
  • Raise awareness of and promote the rights of children.
  • Promote complaints handling procedures that children can understand and use.
  • Ensure that children have effective access to justice.
  • Consider the rights of children in the Scottish Government's budget process.

The Bill would require Scottish Ministers to report on the Scheme annually, including actions taken in the previous year and plans for taking forward children's rights in the year ahead.

The UNCRC Bill would also require the Scottish Ministers[8] to prepare and publish a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) for: all new Bills being introduced by the Scottish Ministers in the Scottish Parliament; most Scottish statutory instruments made by the Scottish Ministers; and decisions of a strategic nature made by the Scottish Ministers relating to the rights and wellbeing of children (see section 2.6).

The UNCRC Bill would also place a reporting duty on certain listed public authorities. Applicable authorities would need to report every three years on the steps they have taken, and would in future take, to be compatible with the incorporated UNCRC rights and obligations and to secure better or further effect of children's rights.

2.5 Existing Reporting Duties Under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (2014 Act) currently requires Ministers to report to the Parliament every three years on relevant progress and their plans for the subsequent three year period. The first Report and Action Plan developed under these duties were forwarded to the Scottish Parliament in December 2018. Two reports discussing progress made in taking forward the actions in the 2018 Action Plan were published in 2019 and 2020.

The second 3-year report and action plan were laid before the Scottish Parliament in November 2021. The Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: A Report 2018 - 2021 set out progress made in taking forward children's rights since 2018. The Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: Action Plan 2021 to 2024 includes measures which seek to build the capacity for public authorities to take a child rights-based approach in the design and delivery of services and to ensure that children, young people, and their families are aware of and understand the UNCRC. An easy read version of the 2018-2021 Report was also made available.

Since April 2017, Part 1, sections 2 and 3, of the 2014 Act also place a duty on a wide range of public authorities, including local authorities and Health Boards, to report every 3 years on the steps they have taken in that period to secure better or further effect of the UNCRC requirements within their areas of responsibility. Non-statutory guidance in support of these duties was prepared in dialogue with stakeholders and published in December 2016. The first reports under these provisions became due to be published as soon as practicable after 1 April 2020. Provisions within Coronavirus legislation have allowed public authorities to delay reporting if doing so would hinder their ability to respond to the pandemic.[9] These provisions expired on 30 September 2022 and reports continue to be due as soon as practicable.

2.6 Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment

LOIPR request: 5(c) child rights impact assessment procedure.

The non-statutory Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA), which was introduced in 2015, seeks to ensure that all areas of the Scottish Government consider the possible direct/indirect and positive/negative impacts of proposed policies and legislation on the rights and wellbeing of children and young people. The views of children and young people are integral to the CRWIA process. The CRWIA is promoted across the Scottish Government as a key tool in the development of policy and is assisting officials, and other relevant organisations who choose to use this resource, to take a rights-based approach to the development of relevant policies, legislation, services, and significant investment decisions, ensuring that children's rights, wellbeing and voices are at the heart of policy development. A list of CRWIAs prepared and published by the Scottish Government is available on the website.

Following a review of the CRWIA process, in November 2021, new templates and updated guidance were published on the Scottish Government website for anyone to use. We continue to gather feedback from anyone using the templates and guidance to ensure they are continuously improved. We are also continuing to take steps to raise awareness of the CRWIA process and resources and to promote their use across all areas of the Scottish Government, public sector and the third sector.

In addition, since 2019, an indicator within the terms of grant allocations to third sector organisations who receive core funding from the Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund[10] has been that organisations 'will evidence that they have considered the rights and wellbeing of children and young people by completing a CRWIA for the creation and development of their policies and procedures'.

2.7 Coordination and Strategic Governance of Children's Rights in Scotland

LOIPR request: 6(b) and 6(c) monitoring and evaluation and effective coordination of implementation of the UNCRC.

Since 2007, the Scottish Government has had a minister with specific responsibilities for overseeing progress in relation to the rights of the child. The current Minister for Children and Young People is supported by the Children's Rights Unit in the Scottish Government's Directorate for Children and Families. This team has responsibility for coordination of and reporting on progress in Scotland in relation to children's rights and raising awareness of the UNCRC. A key aim of the Unit is to oversee the delivery of the UNCRC implementation programme (see section 2.8).

The UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board (SIB) was convened in 2021 to provide strategic and collaborative oversight and leadership of a three-year UNCRC implementation programme to deliver a fundamental shift in the way children's rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled in Scotland. It includes representation from leaders in the children's rights sector and public authorities. The Terms of Reference for the Board have been published on the Scottish Government website along with the minutes of each meeting.

To support the meaningful and inclusive participation of children and young people in the work of the SIB, and wider implementation programme, the Scottish Government established and drew on support from an interim consortium of organisations that have strong, trusting relationships with children and young people across Scotland.

The interim consortium, Rights Right Now!, was coordinated by Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights) in partnership with 6 organisations.[11] The final reports from the project were published in June 2022. Following an unsuccessful attempt to establish a longer-term consortium, we are currently considering how to build on this approach to support broader meaningful engagement of children and young people in policy development.

2.8 The UNCRC Implementation Programme

The Financial Memorandum to the UNCRC Bill set out the high level plan for the three year implementation programme covering three strands which have been further developed and expanded into four. Actions in relation to these strands were included in the Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: Action Plan 2021 to 2024 as follows:

Scottish Government Leadership for Children's Rights

This strand of work is focussed on ensuring that the Scottish Government is a leader for children's rights and a role model to others in upholding children's rights, as well as ensuring all Scottish Government policy and legislation is UNCRC compliant by:

  • Remaining committed to the incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law subject to the limits of devolved competence as soon as practicable.
  • Developing and delivering a strategic plan for raising awareness and training on the UNCRC and children's rights across the Scottish Government and its agencies (see section 2.9).
  • Promoting the importance and adoption of Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs) and continuing work to improve CRWIA training and to develop an impact evaluation process (see section 2.6).
  • Consulting on, and publishing, a Children's Rights Scheme which will set out how the Scottish Government will give better and further effect to the rights of children. This consultation will take place when the UNCRC Bill receives Royal Assent.

Empowering Children and Young People to Claim Their Rights

This strand of work is focussed on creating and amplifying systems that enable children and young people to be empowered human rights defenders, by continuing to drive forward a rights-based approach to participation, ensuring we listen, consider, and respond to representative voices of children and young people, particularly those who are seldom heard by:

  • Co-creating a national awareness raising campaign for children's rights with children and their families, to ensure that children, young people, their families, and all of Scottish society are aware of and understand the UNCRC, and to support them to be rights defenders (see section 2.9).
  • Producing a wide range of information and guidance resources aimed at raising public awareness to increase individuals' understanding of children's rights (see section 2.9).
  • Establishing a consortium of organisations to support a sustainable, meaningful, and inclusive approach to participation of children and young people in decision making (see section 2.7).

Embedding Children's Rights in Public Services

This strand is focussed on supporting a proactive culture of everyday accountability for children's rights across public services in Scotland by:

  • Producing guidance for public authorities, and those undertaking functions of a public nature, to implement the UNCRC (see section 2.9).
  • Developing a Children's Rights Skills and Knowledge Framework to support capacity building in public services in taking a child rights approach in practice to drive forward the cultural change required (see section 2.9).
  • Developing a National Improvement Programme, which will include an approach to self-evaluation to support public authorities in taking forward a child rights-based approach. An Innovation Fund will provide financial support for testing and implementing creative approaches to embedding children's rights (see section 2.9).

Children's Rights Resolution

This strand was not originally included in the Financial Memorandum accompanying the Bill and was added to the implementation programme in June 2021. It is focussed on providing targeted support which will significantly improve how children and young people access and experience their rights including:

  • Working with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to develop a child-friendly complaints process to ensure children and young people are able to access their rights (see section 3.4).
  • Working across the Scottish Government and with stakeholders to review existing advocacy arrangements to support children and young people in accessing their rights, and to consider how we can strengthen the provision of advocacy to children and young people who need it (see section 3.13).
  • Developing an Evaluation and Monitoring Framework to monitor and evaluate the delivery, aims and impact of the UNCRC Implementation Programme (see section 2.8).
  • Engaging proactively with colleagues across the Scottish Government on specific issues where more can be done for children's rights. We intend to strategically target those issues where we can go further to respect, protect, and fulfil children's rights in policy, legislation and practice and contribute to the realisation of children's rights.

Evaluation and Monitoring Framework for the UNCRC Implementation Programme

The Scottish Government funded the Observatory of Children's Human Rights, Public Health Scotland and Matter of Focus to develop a Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real in Scotland. The final report and summary report, published in June 2022, set out the drivers of change for embedding a rights-based approach to public sector policy making. The product of this work will help to identify, not only if there are any gaps in the three-year UNCRC implementation programme that need to be filled, but also if we have in place the drivers of change that will embed a children's rights-based approach in Scotland. The Scottish Government is now working with the UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board to agree a strategy for evaluating and monitoring the UNCRC Implementation Programme.

2.9 Raising Awareness of Children's Rights

LOIPR request: 9. awareness raising and training on UNCRC.

"Young people should be aware of the UNCRC as this treaty empowers them to understand how these rights apply to them in all areas of their lives and to exercise their rights when they are not being met. It also enables children and young people to have their voices heard so that they are listened to and taken seriously."

Haleema, 14, East Dunbartonshire

Achieving a Scotland-wide knowledge and understanding of children's rights and how to act on them is central to the implementation of the UNCRC, and to embedding children's human rights into the fabric of Scottish society. Once in force, provisions in the UNCRC Bill will incorporate article 42 of the UNCRC, which provides for States parties to make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known amongst adults and children. In addition to this, Section 1(3) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places a duty on Scottish Ministers to promote public awareness and understanding of children's rights, including amongst children.

Young Scot and Children in Scotland have co-produced a range of material with children and young people to: promote learning about children's rights; introduce activities to help children and young people understand what rights look like in practice; and build their confidence to defend their rights when these are not being respected. The #ActivateYourRights resources were published on Young Scot's website in 2020. To help to further raise awareness of the UNCRC with young people, in 2022, the Scottish Government commissioned Young Scot to work with a team of young people to co-create a social media campaign to coincide with World Children's Day. The campaign was designed to support other young people to better understand how they experience their rights in real life contexts.

In addition to this, in May 2022, the Scottish Government announced 3 years of funding for UNICEF UK to offer their Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) programme to all 2,400 state primary and secondary schools in Scotland. UNICEF UK works with schools across the country to embed children's rights in a school's ethos, raise awareness of the UNCRC and increase understanding of children's rights. Evidence gathered by UNICEF UK, demonstrates the positive impact of the programme, which creates a culture of respect across the school community where children's voices are heard and valued.

We are also taking steps to further raise awareness of the UNCRC amongst families and a new resource designed by parents' organisations for parents, carers and family members is due to be launched in November 2022. We have also established two stakeholder networks, the UNCRC Awareness Raising Communications Network and the UNCRC Parents Network, to help deliver an awareness raising campaign across Scotland. The campaign will launch in 2023 and will involve a network of localised and targeted work, that interconnects to current work to produce an evolving national programme.

Awareness Raising and Training Across the Public Sector

Non-statutory Introductory Guidance to assist public authorities to consider the UNCRC in the delivery of services was published in November 2021. The Scottish Government also commissioned a short animated film explaining the key messages contained in the guidance in a child-friendly way. The film is intended to act as a resource to promote understanding and dialogue between children and public authorities on how children's rights can be respected, protected, and fulfilled. The film was developed with young people aged 12-18 who shared their lived experiences of rights issues, shaped the script, and provided voiceovers for the film.

The Scottish Government will also issue two sets of statutory guidance which will seek to promote understanding within public authorities of the requirements of the UNCRC Bill, specifically: Part 2 (Duty to act compatibly with the UNCRC requirements); and Part 3 (Reporting duty of listed authorities).

We are also developing a Skills and Knowledge Framework which aims to build capacity in public authorities. Learning from the Trauma Informed approach to upskilling workforces, the aim for this work is to implement a coherent and national offer for all public authorities to upskill themselves in taking a child rights-based approach to their practice/ service, to further enable them to act compatibly with the UNCRC. Given the breadth of sectors, workforces and responsibilities with regards to children's rights, a Children's Rights Skills and Knowledge Framework will establish a tiered-approach to capacity building, whereby practitioners are able to assess the level of knowledge they require for their role, and tools and content would be tailored accordingly. The Framework will continuously evolve to include new topics, updated examples of practice and refreshed materials and content.

We are working with the Improvement Service to develop and deliver targeted support for local authorities. This partnership is building on existing work and relationships that the Improvement Service have with authorities, with a view to influencing and embedding a child rights-based approach, particularly in relation to raising awareness, building capacity and supporting cultural change. As part of this work, the Improvement Service host a UNCRC Implementation Knowledge Hub. This virtual space is focussed on how public bodies are implementing the UNCRC in Scotland, and is provided to support the sharing of information, learning and ideas, as well as facilitate connections between professionals working on children's rights across sectors.

The Scottish Government is also developing a Children's Rights Innovation Fund which will provide financial support for innovative approaches to embedding children's rights in public authorities under a broader National Improvement Programme. As well as creating a way for local practice to improve and innovate, the Children's Rights Innovation Fund will enable a community of children's rights practitioners and champions to share good practice, and contribute to a national directorate of resources, case studies and support.

Rights Training for Professionals

The Scottish Government continues to promote wide awareness of the Common Core of Skills, Knowledge & Understanding and Values for the "Children's Workforce" in Scotland (2012). This resource, which was developed in consultation with stakeholders, sets out the key skills, knowledge and understanding, and values that everyone should have if they work with children, young people, and their families, whether they are paid or unpaid. The Scottish Government has commissioned the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to work with stakeholders on a review of the Common Core. This is a commitment in The Promise, and the reviewed Common Core is due to be launched by April 2024.

Training on children's rights is also included within the learning provided for relevant professionals. For example:

  • Teacher Education - the Professional Standards, updated by the General Teaching Council for Scotland in August 2021, include a commitment to the professional value of social justice. The implementation of this value includes respecting the rights of all learners, as outlined in the UNCRC, and their entitlement to be included in decisions regarding their learning experiences and to have all aspects of their wellbeing developed and supported.
  • Healthcare - The rights of every individual are expected to be upheld by registered healthcare practitioners, who must abide by the professional standards laid out by their statutory regulatory organisations. Integral to these standards is the requirement to act to protect, advocate for, and promote and preserve the rights of those who are vulnerable.
  • Children's Reporters - The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) Professional Development Award for all children's reporters awarded a permanent contract now includes information on UNCRC incorporation in Scotland and what this will mean for their work in Children's Hearings.
  • Children's Panel Members and Safeguarders - Children's Hearings Scotland (CHS) has developed guidance and training for panel members which aims to promote understanding of the UNCRC and children's rights. CHS has also worked with Children 1st to develop a children's rights module for all panel members and Safeguarders.
  • Children's Hearings Advocacy Workers -Mandatory training for all new staffcovers children's rights and the UNCRC and the law around Children's Hearings. Annual refresher training is provided for all advocacy workers employed under the national scheme. In addition, Clan Childlaw is funded by the Scottish Government to operate a legal advice service/helpline for advocacy workers where any matters requiring legal input occur.
  • Police Scotland -Internal communications to raise awareness of the UNCRC across the breadth of the organisation are underway. Police Scotland anticipate developing training materials in consultation with its strategic partners. A Strategic Oversight Board is offering support and providing direction together with an internal working group, serving to provide tactical direction to ensure effective implementation of the UNCRC.
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) - Within the Additional Support Needs jurisdiction (part of the First Tier Tribunal for Scotland Health and Education Chamber) all Chamber training touches on children's rights and on increasing awareness. In the Health and Education Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal for Scotland, children have been involved in providing targeted training to caseworkers and caseworkers have been provided with training on the child-centred nature of proceedings.[12] Clerks involved in Court of Session Family cases receive training on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, including obtaining the views of the child in relation to orders sought under section 11.
  • Scottish Prison Service - All prison staff undertake human rights awareness training within the Equality and Diversity package developed by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) College. The training is undertaken by existing prison staff and new recruits to the SPS.

2.10 Children's Services Planning

Part 3 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014[13] requires local authorities and Health Boards, with the assistance of other service providers, to take a collaborative and strategic approach to safeguarding, supporting, and promoting the wellbeing of children, young people, and families. This embeds children's rights and participation within the approach to local planning, design, and delivery of services and support in each Children's Services Planning Partnership (CSPP) area of Scotland through their Children's Services Plan, within an overarching aim of improving outcomes for children, young people, and families.

On behalf of Scottish Ministers and in line with the Part 3 duties, a national review of Scotland's 3-year Children's Services Plans (2020 to 2023) was undertaken in 2021. The report highlights key strengths, good practice, and areas for development. The report includes information on a statutory review criteria which considers the extent to which children's rights have been used to inform the structural, procedural and outcome framework of each Children's Services Plan (CSP) as well as highlighting examples of ways in which children and young people have participated in the Children's Services Planning process.

2.11 Use of Data

LOIPR request: 8. collection and quality of disaggregated data on the UNCRC.

Relevant statistics and research inform the preparation of CRWIAs in the development of policy (see section 2.6). Data collected in relation to individual policy areas include the following:

  • Equalities - In April 2021, building on Scotland's Equality Evidence Strategy 2017-2021, the Scottish Government launched the first phase of its Equality Data Improvement Programme, which will be undertaken over 18 months. This will lead to the publication of a revised Equality Evidence Strategy in early 2023.
  • Education - The census-based Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels data collection replaced the sample-based Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy as the key source for literacy and numeracy performance in Broad General Education. The census approach allows disaggregation of data by school, school stage, sex, ethnic origin, geographical location, and socioeconomic status.
  • The Promise - The Promise Scotland is carrying out an extensive data mapping exercise which aims to map all data currently held in Scotland that directly or indirectly impacts on children and families' lives and outcomes, including but not limited to data on housing, poverty, education, employment, social work, and health.
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing: The Scottish Government has introduced a new Health and Wellbeing (HWB) Census which started in the 2021-22 academic year. In 2021, the Scottish Government published a report based on the mental health and wellbeing findings from the 2018 wave of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS). This included findings relating to emotional and behavioural problems and mental wellbeing. In 2021, the Scottish Government published findings from Ipsos MORI's Young People in Scotland (YPIS) 2021 survey focused specifically on questions relating to mental wellbeing, relationships, and social media.
  • In 2019, the Scottish Government commissioned the Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Adult Psychological Therapies National Dataset (CAPTND). This disaggregates to patient-level and contains information on patient journeys from referral to discharge. In 2021 a first tranche of data on referrals by age, sex and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation area quintile was published in the CAMHS waiting times statistics report.
  • Overweight and Underweight: NHS Scotland provides a universal child health programme which includes surveillance of child weight and growth. NHS Boards record results on the child health school system (CHSP School), which can be used to estimate the prevalence of overweight and underweight children in Primary 1 in Scotland. Public Health Scotland (PHS) also publish annual statistics on high, low and healthy body mass index (BMI) for Primary 1 school children and data can be disaggregated by Health Board and local authority area, sex and SIMD. The Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) reports on the risk of overweight and underweight for 2 -15 year olds and data can be disaggregated by sex, age group, SIMD and disability.
  • Food insecurity - The Scottish Government has been measuring food insecurity with the UK wide Family Resources Survey and Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) since 2017.
  • Asylum Seeking and Migrant Children: Asylum and immigration are reserved matters. The Home Office publish relevant statistical information in relation to asylum-seeking and migrant children.

2.12 Consideration of Children and Young People in Budgetary Processes

LOIPR request: 7(a) and (b) state and participatory budget processes.

The Scottish Government, with the Scottish Parliament, have well-established budget setting and scrutiny arrangements that aim to ensure that decisions about revenue and capital expenditure as well as income are informed by both Ministers' statutory responsibilities and key delivery priorities and outcomes.

Budget decisions and priorities in Scotland are informed by the principles set out in the Christie Commission Report on the Future Delivery of Public Services (2011) including, for example, promoting a decisive shift toward prevention and greater integration of public services at local level. Under these principles, there has been an increasing focus in recent years by the Scottish Government and public bodies to direct resources towards actions that can help tackle deep rooted social and economic disadvantage. This was further embedded by the introduction of the 'Fairer Scotland Duty' in April 2018,[14] which requires certain public authorities, when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise its functions, have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.

The introduction of the CRWIA further ensures that policy officials within Government take account of the rights, wellbeing, and views of children and young people in considering relevant policies and significant investment decisions.

The Scottish Government publishes an Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement each year alongside its draft Budget for the year ahead. This document examines the impact of budgetary decisions across protected characteristics. The annual report on child poverty also provides an assessment of progress against targets and tracks budgets targeted at families in low income.

Children and young people and their families also benefit from wider budget allocations by means of block grant funding to local authorities and grant provisions to other public bodies which have discretion and flexibility in how they allocate their overall budgets, subject to their statutory responsibilities and local and national outcome commitments. Since 2007, the Scottish Government has adopted an outcomes-based approach through its National Performance Framework, focusing on the improved outcomes that it wants investment to deliver.

UNCRC Bill and Child Rights Budgeting

The UNCRC Bill, as passed by the Scottish Parliament in March 2021, would require the Scottish Ministers to create a Children's Rights Scheme which would include the arrangements they have, or would have, in place to consider the rights of children in the Scottish Government's budget process (see section 2.4).

Public budgeting for children's rights represents a key tool within UNCRC implementation. To ensure children's rights are adequately captured throughout the budget cycle, work is ongoing to increase the transparency of the budget process and fiscal framework within the Scottish Government, as well as to improve and enable meaningful participation of children throughout the budget cycle. We will continue to explore, across the Scottish Government and with stakeholders, the potential to build in children rights-based approaches to budgetary decision-making to ensure human rights standards are reflected within fiscal decision-making. Our approach to delivering children's rights budgeting in Scotland has, and is, being shaped by our consideration of international guidance, as provided for by the UN Committee. This is being developed in view of mutually reinforcing frameworks such as wellbeing and participatory budgeting that are also being established in Scotland.

Alongside ongoing work on budget improvement within the Scottish Government, statutory guidance is being produced to ensure public authorities in Scotland are aware of the potential public budgeting for children's rights can have on improving lived experiences for children across Scotland. This guidance will be supported in the longer term by a Skills and Knowledge framework which will include a learning module on applying children's right to public budgeting (see section 2.9). To ensure we are capturing best practice, we aim to include lessons learned from case studies produced by UNICEF, NGOs across the world, and academic research to help government to introduce, or improve, the measurement, monitoring, and reporting of public spending for children.

2.13 Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which citizens decide directly how to spend part of a public budget. The Scottish Government supports PB as a tool for community empowerment and as a means to build on the wider development of participatory democracy in Scotland. As part of the National PB Support Programme, the Scottish Government provides secretariat support to the independent National PB Strategic Group. There is strong working collaboration across the Group, which shares the ambition that in five years' time, PB will be part of the core infrastructure of a constantly renewing democratic and community life across Scotland.

"During the meetings, I felt not only that I was being heard, but that my voice was appreciated at a high strategic level and any comments I made were taken on board."

Ellie, MSYP, blog post about her involvement in developing the Framework for the future of Participatory Budgeting in Scotland, 2021.

The Strategic Group have co-produced and published the Framework for the Future of PB in Scotland (2021), which includes five overarching themes underpinned by sixteen priorities recommended to carry forward in order to strengthen PB in Scotland. Education is a key theme in the National PB Framework, which includes three key priorities related to children and young people. Priority 12 aims to support high quality PB processes in education; Priority 13 focuses on developing PB further in secondary schools; and Priority 14 looks at using PB to address challenges of poverty and inequality of children by sharing decision making on the allocation of the Pupil Equity Fund.

The Scottish Government has provided funding to Youth Link Scotland, to deliver Scotland's first accessible online qualification on PB and Grant Making. This online course is now available and free for up to 750 young people who are involved in PB and grant making work, to sign up and complete. Upon completion of the SCQF Level 5 Credit Rated online course, children and young people participating will be able to demonstrate a clearer understanding of PB and grant making principles and values. This will help to equip children and young people with the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in local decision-making processes.

2.14 Human Rights in Business

LOIPR request: 11(a) and (b) children's rights and the business sector.

The Scottish Government has taken forward a range of measures to support and promote human rights in business, including policies relating to Fair Work and the living wage. These are discussed in the Scottish Government's standalone Position Statement on the Universal Period Review (October 2022).

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) set out a framework which recognises the state duty to protect human rights, business responsibility to respect human rights, and the requirement for both the state and businesses to provide remedies. The Scottish Government has taken forward work to develop a National Action Plan for the implementation of the UNGPs, including by convening a Steering Group for the development of the Plan. As part of this work, an engagement event was held in 2018 to gather the views of young people on the ways in which businesses affect their lives and the impacts this can have on their human rights.

In addition to this, the UNCRC Bill would require the Scottish Ministers to set out in a Children's Rights Scheme, arrangements to protect the rights of children in relation to their interactions with persons, other than public authorities, who provide services which affect children. The compatibility duty in the UNCRC Bill would apply to all public authorities exercising public functions within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, including functions of a public nature carried out under a contract or other arrangement with a public authority.

Scottish Business Pledge

The Scottish Business Pledge is a values-led partnership between Government and business that is based on boosting productivity and competitiveness through fairness, equality, and sustainable employment. The Pledge currently has three core mandatory elements: payment of the real living wage; no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts; and action to address the gender pay gap. Businesses must also choose to commit to any 5 of the following 7 elements according to their particular sector: investing in a skilled and diverse workforce; workforce engagement, offering an effective voice to workers; environmental impact; prompt payment; innovation; internationalisation; and playing an active role in the community. Since its launch, the number of businesses committing to the Scottish Business Pledge has grown.

Public Procurement

Companies awarded public contracts are required to comply with environmental, social, and labour laws when performing those contracts. Public bodies are required to consider and act on opportunities to improve economic, social, and environmental wellbeing, and reduce inequality within their procurements. Scottish public sector buyers are being encouraged to consider social, economic and environmental factors systematically through use of the Sustainable Procurement Tools and associated guidance. This includes a focus on human rights and equality. The tools have been designed to help public bodies comply with policy and legislation.

Public bodies are required to include relevant clauses in their contracts to ensure those they contract with comply with environmental, social and employment law obligations. Scottish Government standard contract terms and conditions allow for contract termination if the contractor or a sub-contractor fails to comply with environmental, social and employment law when carrying out that contract.

Human Rights in Trade

In 2019, the Scottish Government published Scotland: a Trading Nation - A Plan for Growing Scotland's Exports. We encourage Scottish-based companies to adopt ethical business practices, conduct appropriate due diligence on their business partners, and be aware of local business conditions in export markets. To support this, businesses have access to the UK Government's Overseas Business Risk Service, which provides analysis on overseas markets to exporters, including on potential risks such as human rights issues, bribery and corruption, terrorism, criminal activity and intellectual property.

Scotland's Vision for Trade (2021), outlines the five principles by which we will judge our own trade policy decisions and contribute to those of the UK Government and of our international partners: Inclusive Growth, Wellbeing, Sustainability, Net Zero and Good Governance. The principle of Good Governance includes the Scottish Government's commitment to an inclusive Scotland that protects, respects, promotes and implements internationally recognised human rights. We have a strong and enduring commitment to securing and supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights in other parts of the world. The Vision for Trade sets out the levers that the Scottish Government has available to support the coherence between human rights and trade, as well as our asks for the UK Government in using their levers in a way that is supportive of Scotland's objectives.

2.15 International Development

LOIPR request: 10. International development cooperation and children's rights.

The Global Citizenship: Scotland's International Development Strategy (2016) set out our contribution to the international community as a good global citizen. At the forefront of our efforts is our annual £11.5 million International Development Fund (IDF), the main aim of which is to support and empower our partner countries, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, and Pakistan, in line with contributing to meeting the SDGs. Some projects specifically support children in our partner countries, for example, a project on access to justice for young people in Malawi, supporting the Malawi Government in enabling access to justice, and humane, child-welfare based treatment for child offenders. All international development projects funded by the Scottish Government are subject to monitoring and evaluation requirements, in particular, providing disaggregated data to understand and track how our projects are delivering impact for vulnerable or marginalised groups.

2.16 Definition of the Child

Consistent with the definition of a child that is set out in Article 1 of the UNCRC, the UNCRC Bill provides that for the purposes of the incorporated rights and requirements, a child is a person under 18. Whilst all children up to the age of 18 will have rights under the Bill, the UNCRC recognises the evolving capacity of children and young people, and that children and young people will have increased choices and ability to influence decisions that affect them as they grow older. This means that, provided it does not prevent the realisation of their rights, policy and legislation related to children and young people may operate with different age thresholds.

Minimum Age of Marriage

LOIPR request: 12. raising the age of marriage.

The Scottish Government is seeking views from key stakeholders on whether the minimum age of marriage should be increased from 16 to 18 years in Scotland. This work has involved meeting individually with a range of interested organisations, including those offering support to women and girls affected by violence, forced marriage and other forms of honour-based abuse.


Email: UNCRCIncorporation@gov.scot

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