Annex A Examples of Fairer Scotland Duty Assessments (FSDAS) Carried Out In 2019-20
As well as the examples given in Chapter 2 relating to major areas of new Scottish Government spend, FSDAs have supported improved financial decision-making through influencing decisions relating to:
- The development of high-level Scottish Government strategies
The National Transport Strategy 2 (NTS2) will establish a new transport vision for Scotland. The FSD summary for the draft strategy highlights evidence from consultations and a baseline review of transport-related inequalities in employment opportunities, social connections and access to essential services. Poor service coverage, reliability, or affordability of public transport reinforces inequalities for those in deprived communities, with cost of transport regularly cited by those on low incomes as the greatest transport-related barrier., Changes affecting different modes of transport will vary in their impact on inequalities: decline in bus use for example has the highest impact on people from the lowest SIMD quintile, who make 206% more trips by bus and coach than those in the highest quintile. Consideration of this evidence has informed and shaped a positive framework to underpin a strategy that has 'Promotes Equality' as one of its four overarching priorities. This will support interventions to target existing inequalities and achieve key outcomes of the NTS2 of providing 'fair access to services we need' that are 'easy to use and affordable for all'.
A Trading Nation, the Scottish Government's export growth plan, was informed by a range of consultation activity. Evidence in the FSDA highlighted the risk that the plan's aims to raise productivity and create new jobs could embed existing inequalities unless the quality of those jobs was ensured, and pathways to them were accessible by those normally excluded. In recognition of this, the FSDA states a commitment to gathering evidence of the plan's impacts, as it is developed, through a specific monitoring and evaluation framework. This analysis will allow us to consider what wider Scottish Government work could be undertaken to mitigate any adverse impacts on inequalities or socio-economic disadvantage or consider the scope to put in place complementary measures against any negative distributional consequences from our efforts to deliver inclusive economic growth. The plan sets an expectation that Scottish-based businesses will adopt ethical business practices and Scottish Enterprise will work collaboratively with the Scottish Government and partner agencies, using data and evidence around any impacts to help shape future policies and actions.
- The development of new and devolved benefits delivered by Social Security Scotland
Funeral Support Payment (FSP) is a benefit providing a contribution towards funeral costs for bereaved people in Scotland on low-income benefits or tax credits. Published evidence highlighted the burden of debt these groups may face when paying for a funeral. Evidence gathered from stakeholders during policy development (including views expressed by members of the Social Security Experience Panels) further indicated that many people who may struggle with these costs were not eligible for existing support. Stakeholders proposed increasing the flat rate element of the payment, currently set at £700. In response to this, eligibility for support for FSP was widened by 40% compared to the existing benefit, targeting payments at people at the lower end of the income spectrum. The Scottish Government has also committed to an annual uprating of the flat rate element. This will ensure that the value of this part of the payment will be protected from the impact of inflation and means that people in Scotland will receive a higher payment for other expenses than in the rest of the UK after the first year of introduction. The costs of this additional support will be met from the Scottish Government's budget and will total almost £2 million in the first full year of operation.
The Best Start Grant (BSG) is a devolved benefit replacing the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG). It provides additional money to families on low incomes when their children make transitions in the early years. This is intended to alleviate material deprivation, tackle inequality, contribute to closing the educational attainment gap and give children the best possible start in life. The Scottish Fiscal Commission's estimates show that the annual cost will be in the region of £12 million, based on 2019-20 figures. This is an estimated additional investment of £10 million by comparison with projected spending by the UK Department for Work and Pensions on SSMG for the same period. The FSD assessment for this benefit explains that this policy approach was developed in response to concerns from a Reference Group of stakeholder organisations about groups that may be disadvantaged under existing SSMG criteria.
Analytical work to model options has indicated that the benefit will reach families in poverty or at risk of being in poverty, both in and out of work (almost 90% of families in the bottom three income deciles). The BSG is designed to be easily understood and accessible, to improve take up and ensure spend on administration is proportionate.
- The scrutiny of new Bills and Regulations introduced to the Scottish Parliament
The Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill,which received Royal Assent on 18 July 2019,aims to reduce the extent of fuel poverty, which can lead to poorer health outcomes for children. Figures identified in the FSDA for the Bill suggested that among the 26.5% of households living in fuel poverty in Scotland in 2016, many families with children or people with enhanced heating needs were not meeting the existing criteria for support. Evidence from projections suggested that a proposed new fuel poverty definition would increase the proportion of families eligible for the Scottish Government support programme from 16% to 23%, while stakeholder consultation supported this as an effective means to address fuel poverty. Following consideration of this evidence, the Bill includes the new fuel poverty definition with a long-term target that by the year 2040, no more than 5% of households are in fuel poverty.
Draft Regulations for a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for single-use drinks containers were laid in Parliament on 10 September 2019, as part of the Scottish Government's wider ambition to develop a more circular economy. Key strategic objectives are to: increase the quantity and quality of target materials collected for recycling; encourage wider behaviour change around materials; and deliver maximum economic and societal benefits for Scotland. The published FSDA reports consideration of both modelling of likely additional outlay and evidence from recycling schemes in England and overseas. Accessibility of return points, take-back by online retailers and the creation of accessible jobs were identified as important factors in minimising the risk of negative impacts for those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage. This informed selection of the preferred scheme design, which enables consumers to take single-use containers back and redeem a 20p deposit from any retailer selling drinks covered by the scheme. This amount is within the range of deposit levels adopted by successful international schemes, adjusted for inflation, and is the median deposit level suggested by responses to a public consultation.
2. See: Transform Scotland, 'Rethinking Transport Services to Tackle Poverty', 2018. Available at: http://transformscotland.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Rethinking-Transport-Services-to-Tackle-Poverty-Poverty-Alliance-briefing-for-Transform-Scotland-2018-10-16.pdf
3. JRF, 'Tackling transport-related barriers to work in Scotland'. 2018. Available at: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/tackling-transport-related-barriers-employment-low-income-neighbourhoods
4. Glasgow Connectivity Commission, 'Connecting Glasgow', 2019. p.19. Available at: https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/connectivitycommission
9. 'A Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland', 2019