Scottish Budget 2019-2020: Equality and Fairer Scotland statement

An Equality and Fairer Scotland assessment of proposed spending plans by ministerial portfolios for 2019 to 2020.

This document is part of a collection

Chapter 5 Fairer Scotland Duty


Over a million people living in Scotland currently live in poverty, including one in four children. Living in poverty or in less favourable social and economic circumstances than others in the same society is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes. As a government we are committed to a fairer Scotland and tackling poverty and inequalities, which is why we introduced the new Fairer Scotland Duty.

This Duty, which came into force in April 2018, places a legal responsibility on the Scottish Government and a range of public bodies (including local authorities and NHS Boards) to consider actively how they can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage when making strategic decisions. This chapter provides examples of how Scottish Government strategic decisions, taken as part of the Scottish Budget 2019-20, will help to reduce inequalities of outcome.

Under the Fairer Scotland Duty, those making strategic decisions should identify which groups might experience different outcomes as a result of the aims, actions and outcomes proposed. Relevant evidence should then be gathered and reviewed to understand what inequalities exist for those groups; how the policy decisions might affect these; what alternatives there might be; as well as any gaps in the evidence base. The proposals should be discussed and refined in light of this evidence to further reduce inequalities of outcome and a document of this process published.

The Fairer Scotland Duty is seen as an important complement to the Public Sector Equality Duty. The inclusion of this chapter within the Equality Budget Statement reflects a recognition of the close connections between the protected characteristics and socio-economic disadvantage.

Scotland's Budget 2019-20 comprises strategic funding decisions to enact policies that may affect many disadvantaged groups and individuals, directly or indirectly. This chapter comprises:

  • a brief introduction to socio-economic disadvantage in Scotland and resulting inequalities of outcome;
  • a summary of the ways in which the Scottish Government is using evidence to inform strategic decisions to address inequalities of outcome; and

an overview of some of the key policies that will be advanced within the Scottish Budget 2019-20 to address socio-economic disadvantage.

Socio-Economic Disadvantage

The Fairer Scotland Duty guidance[1] defines socio-economic disadvantage in terms of:

  • living on a low income compared to others in Scotland;
  • having little or no accumulated wealth;
  • having a restricted ability to access basic goods and services;
  • living in areas of deprivation; and
  • coming from a background of socio-economic disadvantage.

Indicators for outcomes in the National Performance Framework[2] revised this year show that, between 2014 and 2017, 19 per cent of adults in private households in Scotland lived in relative poverty (less than 60 per cent of median income) after housing costs, and for 8 per cent of households that poverty had persisted for three of the previous four years.

Certain types of household exhibit higher rates of socio-economic disadvantage. Using poverty as a measure, lone parents, larger families with three or more children, families with mothers aged under 25 years, single working adults without children and people living in rented housing are all more likely to live in relative poverty after housing costs[3].

Higher rates of socioeconomic disadvantage are also experienced in relation to protected characteristics, compounding the inequalities faced. For example, households including a disabled person experience relative poverty after housing costs at higher rates (24 per cent) than the population as a whole, as do minority ethnic groups[4]. Rates are also slightly higher than average in urban locations and lower in rural locations.

Inequalities of Outcome

Disadvantaged groups are more likely to experience negative outcomes in relation to health, education, employment, crime and a wide range of other outcomes. For example:

Health inequalities: People in poverty are more likely to have poor health and die younger. In 2015-16, male healthy life expectancy in Scotland's most deprived 10 per cent of areas was 26 years shorter than in the least deprived areas[5]. Socio-economic disadvantage is associated with ill health due to drug use (17 times higher), alcohol dependence (8.4 times higher) and chronic liver disease (7.2 times higher)[6]. More than a quarter (26 per cent) of those living in the poorest fifth of households reported that their children had less than good health in the first four years of life, compared with 12 per cent of those in the richest fifth[7].

Experience of crime: Thirteen per cent of adults in Scotland experienced crime in 2016-2017, rising to 19 per cent among those living in the most deprived 15 per cent of areas[8]. In 2016-17, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey estimated that 1.1 per cent of adults experience around two thirds of violent crime. Violent crime is becoming more concentrated among particular individuals and communities. Overall, people living in our most deprived areas are at greater risk of being a victim of crime, criminalisation and imprisonment.

Housing and fuel poverty: Low income households spend a higher proportion of their income on housing[9]. They are also more likely to experience fuel poverty. In 2016, 87 per cent of households with weekly 'a' income of less than £200 were in fuel poverty, compared with 26.5 per cent of all households. High and rising energy prices can mean that households on lower incomes experience difficulties in paying their bills - resulting in debt and/or living in under-heated homes, which can impact on their health and wellbeing[10].

Evidence, Socio-Economic Disadvantage and the Scottish Budget 2019-20

At the heart of the Fairer Scotland Duty is an emphasis on using evidence around socio-economic disadvantage and inequalities of outcome in order to inform strategic decisions. The Scottish Government has drawn on a number of different evidence sources to inform strategic decisions relating to the Scottish Budget 2019-20. Examples are presented in the boxes.

Lived experience of poverty and inequality

The Scottish Government has drawn extensively on lived experience in developing policies for the Scottish Budget 2019-20. Examples include: the Social Security Experience Panels, which involve 2,400 people with experience of receiving benefits in designing Scotland's Social Security system; and our consultation to inform the Fuel Poverty Bill and Draft Strategy[11]. In addition, the Scottish Government's sponsorship of the Poverty Truth Commission aims to bring decision makers together with those living in poverty, and has been influential in informing policies such as the introduction of the new national School Clothing Grant.

Data on poverty and inequality

The Scottish Government collects high-quality survey and administrative data on poverty and inequality. Data sources such as the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation are key to informing decisions regarding the targeting of services to address socio-economic disadvantage. Evidence from the Growing Up in Scotland Survey has shown that all children, especially those experiencing the most disadvantage, benefit from access to high quality Early Learning and Childcare (ELC)[12]. This has informed the expansion of ELC - one of the key policy measures designed to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

Evaluation of policies to address inequalities of outcome

The Scottish Government invests in policy evaluation and information is used to inform decisions in the Scottish Budget 2019-20, such as support for programmes to reduce health inequalities. For example, evidence indicates that the Childsmile programme can have greatest impact on the oral health of the most deprived cohort of children[13], that there is more equal uptake for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination than for screening programmes for cervical cancer[14], and that the extended Minor Ailment and Common Conditions Service can have greatest reach to deprived communities through community pharmacies. Public consultations, such as that carried out in development of the Health and Social Care Staffing Bill[15], are another important means to evaluate likely impacts on inequality.

Evidence reviews and synthesis

Policies to address inequalities of outcome are often based on a synthesis and review of the evidence. For example, major reforms of Scotland's Courts and Tribunals and a continued commitment to robust community disposals reflect evidence that community-based interventions are more effective at reducing reoffending, social exclusion and disadvantage than short-term imprisonment[16]. Strong evidence that diet impacts on children's health, their ability to learn and their life chances as they grow up has been used to improve Scotland's health through support to access a healthy diet offered to families on low incomes with young children.

The National Performance Framework

The National Performance Framework sets out a vision for the Scotland we want to see. Wherever possible, data presented within the National Performance Framework is broken down by protected characteristics and measures relating to socio-economic disadvantage. This supports organisations to design better policies and services that appropriately meet the needs of all of Scotland's people.

External scrutiny and challenge

Organisations such as the Poverty and Inequality Commission draw on a range of evidence sources and provide important external scrutiny and challenge to the Scottish Government. These organisations have been influential in informing work relating to the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-22 and promoting a stronger focus across government (and the broader public sector) on poverty and inequality.

How the Scottish Budget 2019-20 Addresses Inequality

The Scottish Budget 2019-20 incorporates a wide range of decisions informed by consideration of the potential to reduce socio-economic inequality. A selection of these are outlined below and illustrate the broad range of work being taken forward as part of the Scottish Budget 2019-20.

Health and Sport

Reducing inequalities in health is one of the key drivers of prioritising spend in health and sport.

Services to address adverse health behaviours supported by the Scottish Budget 2019-20 focus on those communities showing consequential poorer health outcomes, primarily those most deprived. Scotland is singled out by Cancer Research UK as the only part of the UK where our targeted approach to smoking cessation is helping to reduce inequalities, and the most deprived communities benefit from the healthier environments produced across Scotland by preventative measures such as Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol. Further population health improvements will be achieved through an increase of £20 million per annum to support alcohol and drug treatment.

The Family Nurse Partnership programme has now been rolled out across mainland Scotland for all eligible young women. The focus on young, pregnant women targets families who are likely to be most disadvantaged. Over the past nine years, more than 6,000 families have benefited from this support, many for the full duration of 2.5 years. Levels of vulnerability within this cohort are very high and complex, and the intensive, ongoing support is highly valued.

Key areas of investment as part of the Scottish Budget 2019-20 include ongoing support for breastfeeding, with the latest statistics showing a reduction in inequalities with increased breastfeeding rates in the most deprived areas[17]; the forthcoming introduction of Best Start Foods to provide financial support for purchasing specified healthy foods, aimed at pregnant women and families with young children on low incomes; and the full implementation of the Universal Health Visitor Pathway, which includes routine enquiry on household income from health visitors or family nurses allowing families the opportunity to maximise their income and be signposted to appropriate services. To support and maximise the role and impact of Health Visitors, the Scottish Government has made a significant investment of over £42 million of phased funding for recruitment and training.

In 2019-20 we are investing in implementation of the new GP contract and wider primary care reform, which will focus GP time on complex care. Individuals living in deprived communities exhibit higher comorbidity and premature mortality; this focus will mean better management of patients in need of additional clinical support.

Investment and activity by SportScotland in 2019-20 is adding resources and support to Community Sports Hubs with greater targeting to areas of deprivation. This is helping sports governing bodies and local authorities to increase physical activity levels of the least active, who are over-represented among socially disadvantaged communities.

Attracting and retaining the right people, and raising the status of social care as a profession, is key to delivering quality care. Scottish Government funding continues to enable adult social care workers to be paid the Scottish Living Wage, a move that has benefited up to 40,000 care workers - mostly women - and is now being extended to sleepovers.

Education and Skills

The Scottish Government is focused on reducing educational inequalities as a result of socio-economic disadvantage. We are working to give every child the best possible start in life through the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach, and introducing key policy measures to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

From August 2020, the Scottish Government will almost double entitlement to funded early learning and childcare to 1,140 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds and for eligible 2 year olds from August 2020. This includes funding to support 435 additional graduate posts in nurseries in Scotland's most deprived areas. The multi-year funding package, agreed with local government, will ensure that childcare workers delivering this are paid at least the Scottish Living Wage. The new national minimum school clothing grant of £100 per child available to low income families in Scotland will increase incomes and reduce living costs. In addition, more than 134,000 P1 to P3 children benefit from free school meals, thus delivering annual savings for families of around £380 per child.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge will provide £750 million to make significant progress in closing the attainment gap by the end of this parliament. Every council area and 95 per cent of schools in Scotland will benefit from Pupil Equity Funding.

The Advanced Learning and Science budget helps to ensure that children from every background have an equal chance of going to university. The Scottish Government accepted all the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access and is leading an evidence-based programme for implementation. In response to the independent review of student support, the Scottish Government will invest over £21 million per year by the end of this parliament to improve the financial support available to students in Further and Higher Education. As part of this, we will improve bursary support, directed towards the lowest income students.

Communities and Local Government

The 2019-20 local government finance settlement is allocated by taking account of factors that will impact on demand for services or the cost of providing them, including indicators of poverty and/or deprivation from data on benefits, free school meals, homelessness and the SIMD. This recognises the greater demands placed on certain services in deprived areas as well as the potential increased cost of service provision and reduced likelihood of cost recovery. Each local authority spends its total available finances according to local needs and priorities, guided by a set of national and local outcomes.

In addition, the Council Tax Reduction scheme, funded in full by the Scottish Government, provides reductions of up to 100 per cent. Council tax reductions depend on individual means, circumstances and need, to the Council Tax liabilities of around 500,000 households in Scotland. It therefore ensures that those households who would otherwise struggle to pay their full Council Tax are instead only required to pay what they can afford. The scheme takes particular account of household circumstances, including unemployment, disability, caring commitments and the number of children, and it does not cap the number of children.

We believe strongly in supporting communities to tackle poverty on their own terms. The Scottish Budget 2019-20 will support Scotland's communities through projects including the Community Choices Fund, allowing people in disadvantaged communities a direct say in how budgets are spent in their localities. Through our Empowering Communities Fund, we are supporting over 300 community organisations to deliver locally identified priorities to tackle poverty and inequality. The fund impacts on thousands of lives across the country, supporting community-led approaches (including money advice, childcare, training and up-skilling, healthy eating initiatives and volunteering opportunities). Scotland's Credit Unions provide affordable lending and savings in the heart of communities and protect people from predatory lenders and unmanageable debt; the Making Places Community-led Design Programme and funding to independent charity PAS will support the engagement of communities in the Scottish planning system.

The third sector plays a vital role in addressing poverty and disadvantage. We will use the European Social Fund programme, matched by our own resources, to invest in and strengthen Scotland's social economy. This will enable organisations to do even more to transform the lives of disadvantaged individuals and families. The Scottish Budget 2019-20 will also help third sector organisations, many of whom work closely with communities of interest and of place, to achieve greater funding stability and longer-term planning to help tackle inequality and tough social issues at source.

The Scottish Government is investing in a range of social justice and regeneration projects to reduce socio-economic deprivation. The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan sets out the range of actions we are taking to reduce child poverty backed by a £50 million Fund. Examples in this plan include a new, intensive Parent Employment Programme to support parents in low-income families to gain employment or progress their careers; support for the Affordable Credit Loan Fund which will help them access finance without resorting to higher interest alternatives; a new Financial Health Check to support families and older people in accessing the best deals on household needs and ensure they are getting all the financial support they are eligible for; and our Fair Food Fund which builds on work to tackle food insecurity, with a focus on pupils in the school holidays. We will also introduce Funeral Expense Assistance to help lower income families in receipt of certain benefits and tax credits pay for a funeral.

We will continue our investment of over £3 billion to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the five years of this Parliament, 70 per cent of which will be for social rent. The lower rents in this sector play an important role in protecting the after-housing costs income of lower income households. The Affordable Housing Supply Programme will support up to 12,000 full-time equivalent jobs, and therefore also has the potential to reduce poverty by increasing income from employment of low income households. We will also continue to tackle fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of Scotland's homes through our Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS). Proposed changes to the definition of fuel poverty to strengthen the relationship with low income will ensure those households who are most in need are considered fuel poor wherever they live in Scotland, and eligible for help from Scottish Government fuel poverty programmes[18].

In 2019-20, we will make the next tranche of the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together fund available, to drive change and improvement towards ending homelessness in line with the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group recommendations and action plan as part of our commitment to end rough sleeping and homelessness and transform temporary accommodation.


In 2019-20 the Scottish Government will continue to deliver reforms to Scotland's justice system to improve access to justice and address the experience and consequences of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage. This includes continuing to support robust and effective community disposals, such as community payback orders and electronic monitoring, alongside the extension of the presumption against short sentences to 12 months.

Disadvantaged communities experience higher rates of crime. We are also establishing a dedicated Victim's Task Force to ensure victims' voices are heard and to streamline their journey through the criminal justice system. The Task Force will be informed by direct evidence from victims. We are also continuing to fund advice services and ensuring that those most in need can access publicly-funded legal assistance.

Crucially, a number of initiatives to reduce violence continue to be funded in 2019-2020 including the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and Medics Against Violence (MAV). Addressing the underlying cause of crime by investing in diversionary activities continues to be a priority and investment continues in Cashback for Communities, which focuses on young people aged 10-25. We are also implementing the Serious Organised Crime (SOC) Strategy for Scotland, addressing the presence, visibility and opportunities for SOC in our most deprived communities.

Social Security

The budget for Social Security is focused on the overarching aim of creating a fairer Scotland. We have continued to prioritise funding to support our devolved social security powers; delivering our commitment to increase Carer's Allowance to the level of Jobseekers Allowance supporting over 75,000 Carers; accelerating the support we give to low income families to ensure that every child has the best start in life and increasing payments, eligibility and accessibility for this financial support; and mitigating the worst impacts of the UK Government's welfare cuts. Our number one priority is the safe and secure transfer of powers, thus ensuring that the 1.4 million people who rely on this support will continue to receive their payments on time and at the right amount.

We will provide funding to continue to fully mitigate the 'bedroom tax, support those impacted by high rents through Discretionary Housing Payments and sustain funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund. These measures will help as many people as possible affected by emergencies, financial crises and the effects of the UK Government's welfare cuts.

Through the Carers Allowance Supplement, we will put an extra £452.40 into carers' pockets in 2019-20, an increase of 13 per cent. The forecast expenditure on the Carer's Allowance Supplement is expected to be £37 million in 2019-20 which includes an inflation-level increase.

We have replaced the UK Sure Start Maternity Grant with the Best Start Grant. This will increase the payment to the first child from £500 to £600. It will introduce £300 birth payments for further children and two new grants of £250 per child around the time they start nursery and school.

Rural Economy

The Scottish Government budget supports LEADER - a fund providing support to rural communities for rural development. This funding is distributed on a formula which ensures that areas of greatest disadvantage in rural Scotland receive the highest amounts of support.

We will deliver on the commitments set out in the Islands legislation which requires the Scottish Government and policy makers to consider the specific needs of our island communities when developing policies.

The Scottish Government will ensure that the people of rural Scotland have a voice and can influence policy makers through the Rural Parliament, the National Council of Rural Advisors and the Scottish Rural Network. It will also fund projects that target hard to reach groups through the Rural Cohesion budget helping to create community capacity and reduce inequalities in rural areas.

Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

We are developing a Culture Strategy for Scotland which will commit to long-term change through greater collaboration and integration across culture, communities and policy development. This will ensure that culture's transformative power is experienced by everyone and that culture is positioned as central to progress in reducing poverty and inequality.

By continuing to invest in culture through Historic Environment Scotland, Creative Scotland, the National Collections and the National Performance Companies, we will help to ensure that Scotland's culture reaches a diverse and inclusive audience. The Scottish Government support to the National Museums Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and National Library of Scotland to provide free public access to the collections will continue in 2019-20 and will be of particular benefit to those on low incomes.

The launch of the Cultural Youth Experience Fund pilots will be focused in areas of deprivation, helping young people to access cultural opportunities and thus ensuring that location is not a barrier to experience the best of Scotland's culture.

Tourism is a key sector for Scotland's economy. We will collaborate with partners to encourage more fair work practices across the tourism sector by increasing the number of businesses paying the Living wage and reducing zero-hours contracts.

The work we support on International Development aids numerous projects directed towards gender, disability and low-income households, covering health, education, renewable energy, civic governance and economic development.

There is mixed evidence on the direct impact of Brexit on different socio-economic groups. However, those with lower resources and fewer transferable skills will be less resilient to any economic shocks arising. Understanding the impact of Brexit, and ensuring a fair deal, is an essential foundation for supporting those in lower socio-economic groups.

Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity

Promoting access to transport for all is a key consideration of our Scottish Budget 2019-20 and will be a key focus of the new National Transport Strategy due for consultation and publication in 2019.

Our investment in City Region Deals provides one good example of how we are seeking to ensure compliance with the Fairer Scotland Duty. In 2019-20 we will be continuing to invest in City Region Deals as part of a longer-term investment commitment totalling over £1 billion. Four City Region Deals have now been agreed (Glasgow City Region, Edinburgh and East of Scotland City Region; Aberdeen and North East; and Inverness and Highlands). Further deals for Stirling and Clackmannanshire, and the Tay Cities (Dundee, Perth, Angus and the north of Fife) have reached the stage of Heads of Terms agreements with the Scottish and UK governments. All City Region Deals are obliged to ensure proposed investments will be geared to the growth and equality outcomes required by people and communities across the region.

Within the Scottish Budget 2019-20, we are maintaining resource for the Bus Service Operators Grant in 2019-20 at £54.2 million which subsidises all services, making the network more extensive and fares lower than would otherwise be the case. We will continue to provide free bus travel to people aged 60 or over and disabled people through the National Concessionary Travel Scheme at a cost of around £200 million in 2019-20. The scheme reduces isolation and helps disabled users to access employment and educational opportunities. In 2019, we will also develop a pilot scheme of free bus travel for young modern apprentices and will consider options to provide free bus travel to recipients of the new Young Carers Grant.

Through our funding of the Scotrail franchise, we will continue to deliver a range of fare offers to rail customers, including reduced fares for job seekers and the newly employed.

In 2019-20, we are maintaining our commitment to invest £80 million annually in a range of measures to build an active nation. This investment will create safe, segregated walking and cycling routes in towns and cities. In addition, interest free e-bike trials and loans, subsidised bike hire and cycle training underpin our responsibility to make active travel a viable alternative for communities across Scotland and ensure that cheaper, healthier and greener forms of travel are available to more people.

People on low incomes and with low educational attainment are more likely to be digitally excluded. In 2019-20, we are continuing to support community digital inclusion projects and expand Scotland's Digital Participation Charter. This will enable community projects to assist people to improve their job prospects or reduce social isolation by developing essential digital skills.

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform

Access to quality greenspaces can help people live active lives and have a positive impact on mental health, yet people from deprived socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to visit the outdoors. We will provide funding for the Woods In and Around Towns initiative to help tackle the barriers to people accessing and benefiting from woodlands. The Scottish Government funds Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The Green Health Partnerships which SNH is progressing to support biodiversity and health improvements aims to benefit communities in more deprived areas, aiming to show how greater use of the outdoors can help tackle physical inactivity, mental health issues and health inequalities. Scotland's two National Park Authorities are funded to support activity which includes work to ensure that facilities, services and communications are made more accessible so that people from all backgrounds are able to enjoy the benefits.

Through the Scottish Budget 2019-20, the Scottish Government will provide funding to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) who, through its joint partnership working with the Scottish Land Commission and a number of other partners, is supporting local authorities to rejuvenate vacant and derelict land, much of which is in areas of social deprivation. This will help to unlock growth, revive the communities, increase community empowerment, reduce inequalities and inspire local pride and activities.

The Sustainable Action Fund includes the Climate Justice Fund and Climate Challenge Fund, which supports communities in Scotland and in some of our African partner countries to take action on climate change. Within the fund there is a greater focus on targeting disadvantaged and often under-represented groups in society and young people. The 'Communities for Conservation' project is one such project helping minority ethnic communities in Edinburgh and Lothian to reduce energy consumption at home and helping reduce levels of fuel poverty.

We know that people from deprived socio-economic backgrounds are more vulnerable to the impacts of flooding. The Natural Assets and Flooding budget supports work with partner organisations to reduce and raise awareness of flood risk. The budget also helps the Scottish Flood Forum to work with communities to reduce the impacts of flooding by providing immediate support and establishing a network of community resilience groups in areas at risk from flooding.

Zero Waste Scotland provides support to 27 local authorities. Equal access to recycling services for all households continues to be a challenge. It is known that households in lower socio-economic groups have poorer access to recycling services, and they will continue to be a key focus for Zero Waste Scotland in 2019-20.

Finance, Economy and Fair Work

The Scotland Act 2016 gave the Scottish Parliament powers to set the rates and bands for income tax paid by Scottish taxpayers. The Scottish Government will continue to use its additional powers over income tax in a progressive way that protects low-income taxpayers.

Investment activity in 2019-20 is guided by the Scottish Government's Economic Strategy and new Economic Action Plan. By focusing on inclusive growth, the Scottish Government is sending a clear signal that national wealth and prosperity is pursued in order that all of Scotland's people can benefit.

In 2019-20, we will progress legislation to create a new agency to meet the enterprise and skills needs of the South of Scotland. In addition, we will continue to support the work of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership and invest in the strategic activities of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to drive inclusive growth. We will support the establishment of the National Investment Bank whose investment decisions will reflect wider social and ethical interests. We will also continue to promote the Scottish Business Pledge to encourage progressive business practices among businesses operating in Scotland, including paying the Living Wage.

Scotland's new employability service, Fair Start Scotland, was launched in April 2018 and has been designed to take a person-centred approach to supporting those further removed from the labour market into better employment outcomes. Based on public consultation, including those who use services, Fair Start Scotland builds on the approach of the Scottish Government transitional employability services, Work First Scotland and Work Able Scotland, in working with individuals to provide pre- and in-work support with principles of dignity and respect embedded within the service. This service targets disadvantaged groups including people in the 15 per cent most deprived Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) areas.

The Scottish Government will also address socio-economic inequality through its procurement. The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 established a national legislative framework for sustainable public procurement that supports inclusive growth by delivering social, economic and environmental benefits. This means our approach to procurement is socially responsible and delivers value that goes well beyond financial savings and benefits.

Conclusion: Evidencing a Fairer Scotland

This chapter has provided a brief overview of socio-economic disadvantage and resulting inequalities of outcome, a summary of the ways in which the Scottish Government is using evidence to inform strategic decisions and an overview of some of the key policies which will be advanced within the Scottish Budget 2019-20 to address socio-economic disadvantage. It has highlighted examples which demonstrate the breadth of activity that the Scottish Government is supporting within the Scottish Budget 2019-20 to reduce socio-economic disadvantage. This includes initiatives:

  • targeting particular population groups (e.g. ending homelessness; supporting victims of crime) or specific issues (e.g. food insecurity; fuel poverty; low income families);
  • addressing financial insecurity and increasing income (e.g. publicly-funded legal assistance; Affordable Credit Loan Fund; School Clothing Grant, Financial Health Check);
  • focusing on communities or specific geographies (e.g. community sports hubs; LEADER);
  • focusing on service (re)design to ensure services are better tailored and targeted to address socio-economic inequalities (e.g. targeted approach to smoking cessation; reforms in courts and tribunals);
  • supporting good employment practices (e.g. adult social care workers and Scottish Living Wage; Scottish Business Pledge);
  • using legislative powers, new powers, national strategies and charters to reduce socio-economic inequalities in outcomes (e.g. minimum unit pricing for alcohol; digital participation charter; national transport strategy).

In 2018, the Scottish Government introduced two major changes which will lead to improvements in the ways in which we consider poverty and inequality in the decisions we take:

  • In April 2018, the Fairer Scotland Duty came into force. The duty offers the potential to transform decision-making in Scotland, ensuring that organisations actively consider approaches to reducing inequalities of outcome as part of the decision-making process.
  • In June 2018, the refreshed National Performance Framework (NPF) was launched. Within the NPF there is a cross-cutting emphasis across all of the National Outcomes and Indicators on closing the inequality gap.

Collectively, these two changes have the potential to support a much stronger focus on socio-economic inequality. To date, a limited number of Fairer Scotland Duty assessments have been published. By the time of the 2020-21 Equality Budget Statement, it will be possible to provide a range of examples of where the Scottish Government has actively considered approaches to reducing inequalities of outcome as part of the decision-making process based upon published Fairer Scotland Duty assessments.




3. and

4. Department for Work & Pensions , 'Family Resources Survey: financial year 2016-17', (2018),

5. Scottish Government, 'Long-term monitoring of health inequalities: December 2017', (2017)

6. NHS Health Scotland, 'Scottish Burden of Disease Study, 2016: Deprivation Report', (2018),

7. Scottish Government, 'Fairer Scotland Duty Results: Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill', (2018),

8. Scottish Government, 'Every Child, Every Chance: The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-22', (2018),

9. Scottish Government, 'Every Child, Every Chance: The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-22', (2018),

10. Scottish Government, 'Scottish house condition survey 2016: key findings', (2017),

11. Scottish Government, 'Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill and Fuel Poverty Strategy: Fairer Scotland duty assessment', (2018),

12. Scottish Government, 'Tackling inequalities in the early years: Key messages from 10 years of the Growing Up in Scotland study', (2015),

13. Anopa, Y et al. 'Improving Child Oral Health: Cost Analysis of a National Nursery Toothbrushing Programme', (2015), PLoS One 10(8).

14. Information Services Division, 'HPV Immunisation Statistics Scotland: School Year 2016/17', (2017),;
Information Services Division, 'Scottish Cervical Screening Programme Statistics 2017/18', (2018),

15. Scottish Government, 'Fairer Scotland Duty Results: Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill', (2018)

16. Scottish Government, 'What works to reduce reoffending: A review of the evidence', (2015),

17. Scottish Government, 'Tackling inequalities in the early years: Key messages from 10 years of the Growing Up in Scotland study', (2015)

18. Scottish Government, 'Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill and Fuel Poverty Strategy: Fairer Scotland Duty Results', (2018)


Email: Liz Hawkins

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