Stage 4: Decision making and monitoring
Identifying and establishing any required mitigating action
If, following the impact analysis, you think you have identified any unlawful discrimination – direct or indirect - you must consider and set out what action will be undertaken to mitigate the negative impact. You will need to consult your legal team in SGLD at this point if you have not already done so.
Have positive or negative impacts been identified for any of the equality groups?
Potential positive, but also minor negative impacts been identified for the following protected characteristics: age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or belief, gender reassignment and socio economic status.
These relate to, for example:
- Positive opportunities for all members of communities to work together to improve their lot;
- Minor barriers to the use of online systems and access to information;
- Potential for direct and indirect discrimination occurring within communities participating in CRtB schemes
- Barriers to accessing financial and other resources
While no changes will be made to the policy itself as a result of the EQIA, the potential impacts of the new policy on certain protected characteristics will be reduced or eliminated in a number of ways including:
- Section 56(13) of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 requires that Scottish Ministers must have regard to the desirability of encouraging equal opportunities.
- Section L2 of Part 2 of schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 requires that Scottish Ministers must carry out their functions with due regard to the need to meet equal opportunity requirements.
- Registers of Scotland (RoS) have in place customer help services that address potential barriers arising in the viewing or searching of the register. The RoS website makes user-tested provisions for people having visual, physical and coordination-related impairments, for example through the use of zoom text and screen readers. There is a free telephone helpline available for those who encounter difficulties with viewing or searching. There is also public access to the RoS customer service centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
- RoS have in place provisions to address potential language barriers for people wishing to view or search the register.
- Financial help will be made available to land owners who are subject to CRtB applications. They will be able to recover costs associated with the purchase of their land that they will have had to pay up front.
- There are no charges associated with the Part 5 application process aside from those incurred in obtaining necessary documentation such as maps.
- Communities will be able to seek support with their CRtB applications from organisations such as the Community Ownership Support Service and DTAS
- Appropriate guidance on ensuring inclusivity will be provided to community bodies.
- The rigorous public interest test that will be applied to applications made under Part 5 should prevent the Church of Scotland and other religious organisations being subject to the types of impacts about which they have expressed concerns.
There is a need to ensure that community bodies take account of all the needs and interests that exist within their community, including those of elderly and disabled people and ethnic minorities who may face particular challenges in relation to, for example, the Part 5 application process.
This will be aided by the ballot process which community bodies must undertake as part of the CRtB application process and which must include the whole community.
The Land Reform Unit will provide guidance on inclusivity in relation to the protected characteristics identified above to community bodies seeking to buy land and other assets under Part 5. The extent to which a CRtB application reflects the interests of the whole community will be judged when that application is assessed. Communities of interest do not have the right to buy assets under Part 5.
Where, following a CRtB purchase, a community body subsequently fails to use the asset purchased in line with the conditions of the Part 5 application stipulated by the Scottish Ministers, the Scottish Ministers have the power to take that asset back.
RoS provides a free telephone helpline that is available to people who are unsure of how to view or search the register.
The EQIA has helped us better understand and anticipate the challenges that may be faced by individuals within communities that participate in CRtB schemes as well as those who wish to obtain information from the Part 5 register. This has allowed us to consider whether there are already adequate provisions in place to reduce or eliminate the impacts on these individuals or whether more needs to be done to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in any way. Is the policy directly or indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010?
If the policy is indirectly discriminatory, how is it justified under the relevant legislation?
If not justified, what mitigating action will be undertaken?
Describing how Equality Impact analysis has shaped the policy making process
The EQIA has highlighted the paucity of evidence available on the possible impacts of bringing into force Part 5 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 on protected characteristics. It has highlighted a need to ensure equitable access for all people who have involvement with the Part 5 processes as well as having processes in place to support both applicants and the owners of land and other assets which are subject to an application under Part 5 and who may have limited financial means and access to other resources.
Monitoring and Review
The Scottish Government will keep the operation of Part 5 under review.