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Coronavirus (COVID-19): evidence gathered for Scotland's route map - equality and Fairer Scotland impact assessment

This is the first publication of an overview of the range of poverty and equality impacts evidenced in relation to the complex range of measures that will be taken as we follow the route map out of the crisis and focus on the mission of making Scotland a greener, fairer and more prosperous country.

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3. Scope of this Document

This document sets out the evidence we have gathered in relation to the actual or likely impacts of the proposed activities on different groups, based on protected characteristics and socio-economic disadvantage, as well as describing a range of activities that we have put in place to mitigate negative impacts or promote positive impacts and advance equality or good relations. The Route Map is the collation of measures from a wide range of sectors that have been brought forward quickly during an emergency situation in unprecedented times. Publication of this document does not mark the starting point of equality and socio-economic consideration, however it provides an overview of the evidence that has been gathered. Impact considerations are being, and will continue to be, taken forward by individual policy areas working with stakeholders whenever possible. However, given the importance of the Route Map itself, and given the fast paced environment required to respond to the health crisis, and protect the right to life, this document provides the first overview of the range of considerations and activities in place, being planned, or to be developed which aim to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, foster good relations between people; and reduce socio-economic disadvantage.

The re-opening of the economy and society, as well as limiting damage, will in the medium to longer term provide an opportunity to do things differently to address long standing structural inequalities. The Social Renewal Board has, as one of its core principles, the commitment to embed equality and human rights throughout, so that across the work of the Board there is a structured approach to considering how issues and proposed responses will impact differently for those who share one or more protected characteristics. The Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery also included that tackling inequality was one of the key challenges of the recovery.

It is understood that COVID-19 has highlighted existing structural inequalities in society and economy. Tackling inequality is already central to Scottish Government policies, with many actions already taken forward or planned and as set out in documents including the Race Equality Action Plan; the Gender Pay Gap action plan; A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People; A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan; our British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan; A Fairer Scotland for Older People; A Connected Scotland (our strategy for tackling social isolation and loneliness); Equally Safe (our strategy for tackling violence against women and girls); Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan; and the Fair Work Action Plan.

Many impacts deriving from structural inequality are too large and complex to be mitigated by a specific activity as part of a measure in the Route Map. But this document still identifies issues and includes mitigating actions that are designed to eliminate discrimination where possible, and confirms the intention that our equality duties will be fundamental to the strategic approach to social and economic renewal.

Given the breadth of activity covered in the Route Map, this document provides a strategic overview for the measures to release from lockdown. For each section of the Route Map (e.g. 'Getting around') it identifies key measures over the phases, and summarises the likely impacts of the change and the differential impacts, where they are known. It also identifies any mitigating actions that have been put in place for Phases 1 and 2 or are being considered to help reduce negative impacts or reinforce positives in later phases. This assessment is based on existing analysis and supporting evidence and research, including that from stakeholders, for each measure as well as an analytical understanding of where impacts are likely to fall.

Where more evidence is needed, we are seeking, through ongoing engagement with the public and organisations representing poverty and equality groups across the range of protected characteristics, to update the content for later phases as it becomes available. We are mindful that our duty to assess policy for impact is an ongoing commitment and not about a 'tick box' exercise.

The Route Map is being updated as more is known about the progression of the virus and our understanding of the outcomes of measures from previous phases improves. There will be no easy decisions as various risks and harms need to be balanced. However, this continued focus will enable consideration of the implications of positive and negative impacts which could result in each case in one of four responses:

  • Deciding not to move forward with the measure at a specific time (or at all)
  • Moving forward with the measure but putting in place specific mitigation activities
  • Moving forward with the measure without mitigation activity on the judgement that the balance of overall risk, harm and impact (whether positive or negative) justifies the activity
  • Further encouraging, enhancing and promoting measures that will advance equality or foster good relations

Contact

Email: nicola.mcdonagh@gov.scot

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