The Equality Evidence Strategy 2017-21 set out the Scottish Government’s vision that Scotland’s equality evidence base becomes more wide-ranging and robust, enabling national and local policy makers to develop sound, inclusive policy and measure the impact on all of Scotland’s equality groups.
If this vision was fully realised, Scotland could move to a position where analysts and policy makers across the public sector:
- have developed a good evidence base to understand the structural inequality in outcomes within their areas;
- have the knowledge and expertise to be able to use this evidence to tailor policy to reduce inequality by protected characteristic and socioeconomic disadvantage;
- have the data, knowledge and skills to use their evidence base to monitor and evaluate the impacts of their policies on an ongoing basis.
A stronger and more complete equality evidence base would also allow them to more effectively contribute to the collective effort across the public sector to fulfil the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty.
However, there are many costs and challenges to collecting, analysing and reporting intersectional equality data and, despite improvements in recent years, there remains significant gaps in Scotland’s equality evidence base.
The First Phase: April 2021 to Dec 2022
The Equality Evidence Strategy is due for review in late 2021 and the next iteration will cover the years 2022-25, by which time Scotland’s 2022 Census data will be available. The Scottish Government’s aim is that the new Equality Evidence Strategy will re-examine key aspects, such as the vision and purpose, accompanied and informed by an EDIP that sets out key milestones and priorities to filling equality gaps. The first phase of the EDIP has been proposed and agreed by Scottish Ministers.
The first phase of the EDIP commenced in April 2021, and comprises a series of projects led by the Scottish Government that will be undertaken over a 12 to 18 month period. The purpose of this preparatory phase of the EDIP is to focus on the process elements of equality data collection. It will consider quantitative and qualitative data in relation to the nine protected characteristics, and intersectionalities.
It aims to understand barriers to equality data collection; to understand how to increase response levels; and to develop good practice guidance and case study examples. It will also allow public bodies to input their views of how we can best support the data element of the further roll-out of mainstreaming work in the public sector.
The first phase will also include actions that will make progress in data development in priority areas. The EDIP will also aim to link into, showcase and learn from data development that is already underway across the Scottish Government such as through the Cross Justice Working Group on Race Data and Evidence, actions arising from the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity and the equality data commitments in the Housing to 2040 Strategy.
The Second Phase: Dec 2022 to Summer 2025
The second phase of the EDIP will be a three year rolling programme published with the revised Equality Evidence Strategy by December 2022. The second phase of the programme will set out priority areas for data development along with timescales, lead responsibilities and resource commitments. The scope of the second phase may be widened to include socioeconomic disadvantage and human rights, in addition to the nine protected characteristics.
The second phase of the EDIP will lead up to the time when new Census data is available. The aim is that it will be a collaborative document with other public sector agencies and will respond to calls for a better understanding of structural inequality.
The Project Board
To support the first phase of the EDIP, the Scottish Government have established a Project Board, which will be the main forum for external stakeholder input into the first phase of the EDIP. The Project Board will be in place initially for 18 months. Arrangements for the Project Board will be reviewed in December 2022 in advance of commencement of the second phase of the programme.
In addition to the Project Board, input will be sought from a range of relevant external stakeholders organisations, including those representing protected characteristics and data experts (e.g. academics), on a project-specific basis. A network of analysts in each analytical area within the Scottish Government will also be established to support the programme.
The EDIP will adopt an Open Government approach, which will include publishing a Communications and Engagement Strategy setting out principles for engaging with stakeholders, and making the EDIP work plan and key outputs publicly-available.
The Project Board brings together stakeholders from a range of public sector organisations, with representatives from the Scottish Government. The purpose of the Project Board is to:
- support the design and delivery of projects in the first phase of the EDIP, including providing a steer on the prioritisation of projects;
- provide strategic input into development of the next iteration of the Equality Evidence Strategy and second phase of the EDIP;
- support the join-up of the EDIP with ongoing and upcoming work to provide feedback and insights on equality data collection in the public sector and barriers faced, including expertise and experience of practical, evidence-based solutions and good practice;
- contribute to the identification of sources of practical expertise and guidance in equality data analysis.
The Project Board will be in place for approximately 18 months to support the first phase of the EDIP. The first meeting took place on 19 May 2021. The Board will meet every six to eight weeks thereafter.
The Project Board will be co-chaired by the Scottish Government Chief Social Researcher and Chief Statistician.
Membership includes representatives from:
- Convention of Local Authorities (COSLA)
- Public Health Scotland (PHS)
- Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
- Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum (NDPB Equality Forum)
- Scottish Council’s Equality Network (SCEN)
- Improvement Service
- Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights Directorate, Scottish Government
- Economic Policy & Capability Division, Directorate for Chief Economist, Scottish Government
Membership will be kept under review.
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