Publication - Minutes

Equality Data Improvement Programme Project Board: minutes - May 2021

Published: 13 Jul 2021
Date of meeting: 19 May 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Equality Data Improvement Programme Project Board held on 19 May 2021.

Published:
13 Jul 2021
Equality Data Improvement Programme Project Board: minutes - May 2021

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government

  • Audrey MacDougall (AM), Chief Social Researcher, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Roger Halliday (RH), Chief Statistician, Scottish Government
  • Sean Stronach (SS), Deputy Director for Equality and Inclusion, Scottish Government
  • Trevor Owen (TO), Strategic Lead – Mainstreaming Equality and Human Rights, Scottish Government
  • David Holmes (DH), Economic Policy and Capability
  • Liz Hawkins (LH), Senior Principal Researcher, Equality and Social Justice Analysis Unit, Scottish Government
  • Jon Hunter (JH), Statistician, Equality Analysis, Scottish Government
  • Maisy Best (MB), Social Researcher, Equality Analysis

External

  • Mark McAllister (MM), COSLA
  • Sarah Munro (SM), Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
  • Andrew Fraser (AF), Public Health Scotland (PHS)
  • Emily Lynch (EL), Improvement Service
  • Alan White (AW), Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum (NDPB Equality Forum)
  • Steven Reid (SR), Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum (NDPB Equality Forum)
  • Lesley Crozier (LC), Scottish Council’s Equality Network

Apologies

None

Items and actions

Introduction and welcome

AM welcomed attendees to the meeting, and invited introductions around the table.

Following introductions, AM summarised the purpose of the meeting – to provide an introduction to the EDIP, and to review the project board remit and membership.

Background and context

JH and MB presented slides providing an overview of the EDIP, including the context and aims; links with other work programmes; project board membership and remit; proposed projects; and plans for the second phase.

RH provided an overview of the data linkage project, which will link a range of Census and administrative data in order to fill gaps in equality data. The dataset will be available to public sector bodies to better understand their services.

Attendees discussed seeking input and contribution from wider regulatory and inspection scrutiny bodies to understand what they would expect to see in terms of equality data and how it is used. Members were supportive of this suggestion. LH highlighted recent engagement with one regulatory body, and flagged that there would be continued engagement with this body going forward.

Attendees discussed the proposal not to include socio-economic disadvantage within the scope of the first phase of the EDIP. LH highlighted that this was entirely due to pragmatic reasons to keep the EDIP achievable given available resource. Attendees were broadly content with this approach.

TO flagged that there is a need to ensure that structures are in place within the Scottish Government to ensure that ensure that policy and analysts across the office are actively contributing and taking forward actions that emerge. TO was supportive of the exclusion of socio-economic data, and highlighted that there is a need to consider human rights data in the context of the Mainstreaming Strategy.

Attendees asked that the EDIP Terms of Reference make explicit reference to socio-economic disadvantage and human rights as being key areas for inclusion in the second phase of the EDIP. 

It was highlighted that there is already some available evidence on barriers to equality data which should be drawn on, and that the lived experience project should consider sectoral differences (e.g. justice vs. health) as reasons for non-response could be context dependent.

AM invited reflections on the project board membership, including whether there are any organisations missing that should be on the board and ways of engaging with stakeholder organisations.

Attendees agreed that a Communications and Engagement Strategy is needed given the anticipated high levels of interest in the programme, which should set out the approach to engaging with public sector organisations, organisations representing protected characteristics, and academics.

Attendees discussed the possibility of including regulatory bodies on the project board. Proactive contact with the Strategic Scrutiny Group was agreed.

It was suggested that there should be a consultative phase of developing the next Equality Evidence Strategy, which would engage with organisations from a range of sectors independent of project board membership.

AM highlighted a need to consider principles of engagement, in addition to an engagement strategy.

Terms of reference - remit

AM set out the key points in the purpose, and directed attendees to the draft Terms of Reference (Paper 1).

Attendees discussed whether the Terms of Reference should be more explicit in setting out the reasons for excluding socio-economic and human rights data from the scope of the first phase. It was agreed that there needs to be some flexibility to consider these issues, but the Terms of Reference should state this more explicitly.

Work programme

AM invited detailed comments on the work plan in writing, and invited any immediate reflections.

Attendees agreed that it would be helpful to set out the links between the proposed actions and the expected outcomes in a logic model or driver diagram.

Date of next meeting

Attendees agreed to meet around every six weeks. The next meeting will be in July.

Any other business

AM thanked all for attending, and for their input in the meeting.

Actions

  • SG to draft a Communications and Engagement Strategy, including principles for engagement and the identification of organisations to engage with. This will be circulated to attendees in advance of the next meeting.
  • SG to revise the Terms of Reference to include a statement on other issues that could be addressed through the EDIP.
  • SG to explore options for diagram to set out the links between projects and themes, such as in a logic model or driver diagram. This will be circulated to attendees in advance of the next meeting.
  • SG to contact the Strategic Scrutiny Group.
  • Attendees to share any feedback on the draft work programme via email.

Paper 1 - draft terms of reference

Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP)

Context

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 remain significant gaps in Scotland’s equality evidence base.

Purpose

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 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 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.

To support 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.

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. The EDIP will also adopt an Open Government approach, including making the EDIP work and key outputs plan are publicly-available.

Project board

Purpose

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;
  • support the join-up of the EDIP with ongoing and upcoming work to improve 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 identifying sources of practical expertise and guidance in equality data analysis.

Frequency

The project board will be in place for approximately 18 months to support the first phase of the EDIP. The first meeting will take place on 19 May 2021. Meeting frequency will be considered and agreed at the first project board meeting. 

Membership

The project board will be co-chaired by the Scottish Government Chief Social Researcher and Chief Statistician.

Membership will be considered and agreed at the first project board meeting. Confirmed 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 forum)
  • Scottish Council’s Equality Network
  • Improvement Service

Paper 2 - Project board membership

The project board will be co-chaired by the Chief Social Researcher and Chief Statistician.

Membership will be considered and agreed at the first project board meeting. Confirmed 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 forum)
  • Scottish Council’s Equality Network
  • Improvement Service

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.

Paper 3 - draft work programme

Action

 

Theme

Develop ‘standard 8’ of the Digital Scotland Service Standard to ensure that the revised version covers diversity monitoring to see that the data collection of this information is built into all digital services from the start.

 

Learning and good practice

Analyse individual or household based NPF indicators to identify the extent to which equality breakdowns are available and for each indicator set out a plan to either allow analysis of the existing indicator by protected characteristic or to identify an alternative means to provide evidence.

Data development/improvement

Commission the production of case studies to showcase good practice in equality data collection in the public sector, based on findings from the recently concluded Public sector – understanding equality data collection commission.

Learning and good practice

Update guidance on data collection and question wording to be used for collecting equality data.

Learning and good practice

Commission independent research with people with lived experience of holding different and intersecting protected characteristics to explore response issues, to investigate fears and to understand what positive messaging would help reduce fears and encourage participation in surveys.

Learning and good practice

Develop best practice guidance to help public sector data collectors to improve their response rate. 

Learning and good practice

Run workshops to discuss best practice in analysing protected characteristics for public sector analysts.

Learning and good practice

Undertake an intersectionalities project which will include literature review of what is meant by intersectionalities and how the concept of overlapping/interconnected protected characteristics can be utilised when analysing data. Additional research may be commissioned, where gaps are identified.

Learning and good practice

Continue to liaise with users to ensure the Equality Evidence Finder meets needs as demand for equality data increases and seek ongoing improvements.

Learning and good practice

Data development/improvement

Run workshops to discuss and showcase good practice approaches and accessible presentation methods of equality data. 

Learning and good practice

Identify and develop case studies of how improved equality data has led to changes in service outcomes from across the public sector.

Learning and good practice

Working with the Equality Budget Advisory Group to ensure that equality data on impact is built into budget processes.

Learning and good practice

Ongoing engagement with Cross Justice Working Group on Race Data and Evidence, which has been established with a range of key partners and stakeholders to drive improvements for that domain. 

 

 

 

Learning and good practice

Data development/improvement

As a result of COVID-19, the expert reference group on COVID-19 and ethnicity was established. This group focussed mainly on health data and provided recommendations in November 2020. This is ongoing work led by the Health Improvement Team.

Learning and good practice

Data development/improvement

As part of Housing to 2040, analysts are looking across the housing system at current data gaps and improvements. 

Data development/improvement

Participate in ONS’ Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to seek improved collection and reporting of equality data in UK administrative data such as that from DWP and HMRC. Also to ensure that we are learning from and considering best practice at UK level and from the other devolved governments.

Learning and good practice

Data development/improvement

Produce an equalities dataset through the secure linkage of data from Scottish public bodies on protected characteristics from the 2010 Equality Act to understand the effect of services on different people with different protected characteristics. The aims of this project is to develop as complete a picture of the protected characteristics across the Scottish population as possible using existing administrative and census data. The equalities dataset would be available in the National Data Safe Haven.

Data development/improvement

The Equality Evidence Strategy is due for review in 2021 and the next iteration will cover the years 2022-25. Our aim is that the new Equality Evidence Strategy will re-examine key aspects, such as the vision and purpose, but this time will be accompanied by an Equality Data Improvement Plan which sets out key milestones and priorities to filling equality gaps rather than just identifying them.

Learning and good practice

Data development/improvement