Section 1: The Scottish Government as a Policy Maker
"The Scottish Government has a plan. It is a plan that I am
asking all of us to get behind. It is a plan to build a more
prosperous nation with a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive
economy, with public services that put people's needs first, and
where every individual has true equality of opportunity."
As the Programme for Government, https://www.gov.scot/About/Performance/programme-for-government, clearly demonstrates, equality is firmly embedded throughout all the Government's activities. The programme focuses on an education system providing opportunities for all, an economy with more jobs and fair work, public services fit for the future, empowering people and communities through strengthened local democracy and safeguarding Scotland's place in the world. None of this is achievable without ensuring that barriers to participating for all are removed, and that we are able to make the most of the talents of all of Scotland's people.
- “The Scotland we want to see has a resilient and growing economy, an education system that enables true equality of opportunity for all, public services that are efficient, fair, flexible and valued, and a vibrant, open and inclusive cultural life.” ( PfG, page 4)
- "We will also create a new criminal offence of domestic abuse to deal with forms of psychological abuse that can be difficult to deal with under existing laws.' ( PfG page 6)
- "Introduce a gender balance on public boards bill to redress the gender imbalance of public authority non-executive board members" ( PfG, page 9)
- "We will continue to support Developing the young workforce ( DYW), our early intervention youth employment strategy, to bridge the gap between education and industry, to produce more workready young people and promote the value of work-based learning." ( PfG page 17)
- "More equal societies also tend to be healthier, safer, more productive and more innovative. Making growth more inclusive is therefore important for improving scotland's economic competitiveness and wellbeing, reducing wider inequalities, and improving opportunities for all." ( PfG, page 47)
"The government is committed to further the development of a
culture which promotes equality, values diversity and recognises
the human rights of those working within the nhs in scotland. We
have entered into a new national partnership agreement with
stonewall scotland to support health boards in their approaches
understanding, initiatives and service provision" (
- continue to provide funding to expand the current medics against violence ask, support, care programme to train more healthcare students, nhs staff and non-health care professions (e.g. hairdressing, beauticians and vets) to spot, document and respond to the signs of potential abuse. This programme has the potential to reach out and support thousands of people who may be affected by domestic abuse" ( PfG, page 68)
"everyone has a right to feel and be safe wherever they are,
and where individuals or groups try to use violence and abuse to
advance their aims, we will firmly counter them." (
- continue our scottish approach of safeguarding Scotland's people and communities and by working collaboratively with communities, police and agencies, by building community cohesion and tackling hate crime" ( PfG page 77)
- "there will be specific actions to improve provision on gender recognition, to legislate for gender balance on public boards, to strengthen legislation." ( PfG, page 83)
- “We will work with the convention of Scottish local authorities (cosla) to represent the interests of refugees being resettled in scotland and the local authorites which are receiving them. As part of this work, we will deliver a number of projects to support their integration, including a pilot of a new assets based approach to english language learning. we will also ensure a simplified crisis grant fund for refugee families who settle here under family reunion rules.” ( PfG page 88)
Much has been achieved since we last reported in 2015, and we have included a number of highlights in this report. Of particular note are two major equality frameworks that will be driving our actions for years to come - the Race Equality Framework ( http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/4084), published in March 2016 and A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: our disability delivery plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ( https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/equality-unit/rights-of-persons), published in December 2016. More details of these two important documents follow. The Fairer Scotland Action Plan was also published in 2016 and these three documents link together to provide a robust narrative for change.
The British Sign Language ( BSL)(Scotland) Act 2015 was a particularly significant development. The Scottish Government supported this Member's Bill and successfully secured scores of amendments designed to strengthen the legislation and make it more action orientated and more accessible. The National Action Plan for BSL is out for consultation and the final draft will be published later this year. The BSL Act will greatly increase opportunities and participation for Deaf and deafblind people.
Regulation 6A of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 came into force on 18 March 2016. It places certain duties on the Scottish Government and listed public authorities in Scotland to encourage and support Board diversity, in terms of the relevant protected characteristics of Board members. We have also lowered the threshold for listed public authorities to publish their gender pay gap and equal pay statements from those with more than 150 employees to those with more than 20.
This report includes, for the first time, information about the pay gap and occupational segregation for race and disability as well as gender - another important milestone in terms of holding public authorities, including the Scottish Government, to account.
One of our biggest challenges going forward will be delivering our new Social Security powers. We have made clear that we intend to embed equality and human rights throughout the operation of the 11 benefits which have been devolved to us. The following case study illustrates work to date.
Social Security (Scotland) Bill
This Bill will set out how we use the social security powers devolved to the Scottish Government from the UK Government through the Scotland Act 2016. Only 15% of UK Social Security is being devolved to Scotland. Eleven benefits in total are being devolved, which currently support 1.4 million people across Scotland.
The Social Security (Scotland) Bill sets out an over-arching legislative framework for the administration of social security in Scotland which relates to the general functions of social security administration (e.g. overpayments, fraud, error, appeals and adjudications etc.) rather than provisions associated with specific benefits.
This Bill will transpose the 11 existing benefits onto a Scottish legislative platform, allowing for the modernisation of the benefits and/or some adjustment to reflect how Scottish Ministers may wish the benefits to operate in the future.
The devolved benefits are: Disability Living Allowance ( DLA); Personal Independence Payment ( PIP); Attendance Allowance ( AA); Severe Disablement Allowance ( SDA); Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit ( IIDB); Carer's Allowance ( CA); Sure Start Maternity Grants; Funeral Payments; Cold Weather Payments; Winter Fuel Payments; and Discretionary Housing Payments.
Background on the Principles
The Bill will be based on the vision and principles set out in "A New Future for Social Security in Scotland" ( http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00496621.pdf) published in March 2016 which shapes Scottish thinking around social security.
"A New Future for Social Security in Scotland" outlines the vision and set of principles to underpin the development and implementation of the new social security powers in Scotland. The vision states that "Social Security is important to all of us and able to support each of us when we need it" and is supported by the following principles:
Principle 1: Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland.
Principle 2: Respect for the dignity of individuals is at the heart of everything we do.
Principle 3: Our processes and services will be evidence based and designed with the people of Scotland.
Principle 4: We will strive for continuous improvement in all our policies, processes, and systems, putting the user experience first.
Principle 5: We will demonstrate that our services are efficient and value for money.
Structure of the Bill
The Bill is expected to be divided into 3 parts, as follows:
Part 1 - Principles
The first thing the Bill will do is embed in legislation the principles of the Scottish social security system, including a commitment to a human rights based approach. It will require the production of a charter which is informed by the principles and it will require the Scottish Government to report to Parliament on their delivery against the charter. The Bill will also set out the basic machinery through which the Scottish Government will provide social security dealing with everything from applications through to appeals.
Part 2 - Legislative Machinery
A significant amount of the existing UK legislation provides an administrative background to delivery of individual benefits and we consider that some of this should be replicated, with amendments where appropriate. Work to develop operational policy is ongoing but we currently anticipate that we will need provision for:
General benefits administration, including the requirement to apply, powers to prescribe how applications are to be made and what is to happen to them, and how payments are to be made. Also, powers will be required in relation to the ability of the delivery agency to revisit awards that have been made and the length of awards. Powers will be needed to investigate suspected fraud;
Uprating of benefit amounts;
Appeals and complaints handling within and from the benefits system. It is anticipated that this will mostly be in regulations and similar to existing provision, using existing tribunal machinery and its legislative structure;
Data protection/sharing of information;
Passporting between benefits and other entitlements;
Recovery of over-payments which will inevitably arise. Although this can mostly be effected through existing debt recovery legislation, we will need to provide powers to recover from ongoing benefits and probably provision for reciprocal Scottish Government/Department of Work and Pensions recovery, since people may be receiving one sort of benefit but not another;
General definitions, such as entitlement to benefits in the current UK system, which generally depends on habitual residency, but with variations. We are considering whether we can develop some general definitions of this type that might apply across all benefits, with specific variations or powers to vary where appropriate.
Part 3 - The Devolved Benefits
The Bill will then define the types of social security assistance which the Scottish Government will give (ie benefits in the areas being devolved by sections 22, 23 and 25 of the SA 2016). This part of the Bill will give a brief description of each type of assistance, and confer powers on the Scottish Government to set out the rules for eligibility and entitlement to subordinate legislation.
Ill Health and Disability benefits currently include Disability Living Allowance ( DLA) and Personal Independence Payment ( PIP), Attendance Allowance ( AA), Severe Disablement Allowance ( SDA) and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit ( IIDB).
Benefit for carers currently consists of Carer's Allowance ( CA).
Benefit for maternity expenses currently consists of the Social Fund Sure Start Maternity Grant.
Benefit for funeral expenses currently consists of provision through a Social Fund payment.
Assistance with heating costs in cold weather, currently provided as Cold Weather Payments to benfit recipients for weeks of exceptionally cold weather and annual Winter Fuel Payments to older persons.
Discretionary Housing Payments.
The Scottish Government has acknowledged the huge contribution that all of our carers make to society caring for family, friends and neighbours. The devolution of Carers Allowance provides us with an opportunity to better recognise this contribution through the benefits system, as we believe it is essential that carers are properly supported in their role. The Scottish Government has committed to increasing Carer's Allowance to the level of Jobseeker's Allowance when it is within its power to do so. Over the longer term, the Scotland Act 2016 provides flexibility to change the definition of a carer for the purposes of paying a benefit. For example, we are considering changing the eligibility criteria and the rules relating to the stopping and starting of the benefit. Whilst caring can be a rewarding and positive experience for both carers and the cared for, we know that carers often feel undervalued and struggle financially. Caring often restricts opportunities to participate fully in society as it can be difficult to juggle work and caring responsibilities. We want to develop a Scottish carer's benefit which helps deliver positive experiences and outcomes for carers. We want carers to be able to access the carer support they need, to take part in education or employment if they want. Overall, we want to improve carers' health and wellbeing. Our ambition is to develop a Scottish carer's benefit which, although not a payment for care, provides some financial support and recognition for those who choose to, or who have had to, give up or limit their employment or study because of caring responsibilities.
We are committed to working collaboratively with carers and organisations which represent carers to develop our policy. We received a large number of consultation responses from carers and carer organisations. We also hosted and supported a number of consultation events aimed specifically at carers across the country. The Cabinet Secretary and the Minister for Social Security attended a number of these events, which took place the length and breadth of the country.
For example, we worked with the Coalition of Carers to set up local and national consultation events. The local events were held at the South East Carers Centre, the HIV- AIDS Carers & Family Service Provider Scotland, the Highland Carers Centre and the East Ayrshire Carers Centre. Those attending these events included carers from the Asian community, carers looking after people with HIV/ AIDS, young carers, parent carers and mental health carers, carers from rural and remote communities (including Caithness, Sutherland, Lochaber, Dingwall, Dornoch, Inverness, Nairn and Thurso). The national events were held by the Coalition of Carers and Carers Trust in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Carers and staff from local carer support organisations from local authorities areas across Scotland attended, including those from outside the central belt and more rural locations (including the Highlands, Dunoon, Dundee, Shetland, Lochgilpead, the Borders and Aberdeenshire). Through these events, we were able to reach out to carers from a range of different communities across the country.
Through our Carer Benefit Advisory Group, and its short-life working groups, we are working alongside stakeholders to develop options for the carer benefit. These groups consist of representatives from the national carer organisations, including Carers Scotland, Carers Trust and the Coalition of Carers. There are also a number of local welfare advisors sitting on these groups who have a unique understanding of carers' needs in their area, as well as representatives from other organisations, such as Engender and Marie Curie.
Further, the Scottish Government is aware that many carers under the age of 16 currently undertake caring responsibilities. Although some young carers are supported by young carers' projects and other services, we have heard that many continue to face challenges to their health and well-being as well as not being able to access opportunities that are the norm for other young people; for example, further education. As Carer's Allowance is currently only available for those aged 16 and over, the Scottish Government has committed to considering the introduction of a young carer's allowance. We have set up the Young Carers Allowance Working Group, specifically to look into options for support to be made available to young carers. This group consists of key individuals from organisations such the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance, the Scottish Young Parliament and Carers Trust.
Email: Nicole Ronald, Mainstreamingequality@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House