Equality outcomes and mainstreaming report 2023

Provides an update on the progress we are making to mainstreaming equality, inclusion, and human rights as an employer and decision-maker. It also provides an update on the equality outcomes for the 2021 to 2025 reporting period.

Part 1: The Scottish Government As A Policy Maker

Mainstreaming Achievements and Actions

Building on policies and legislation already in place, the Scottish Government continues to promote and advance equality, inclusion and human rights in all that we it does. This summary report provides a snapshot of how we are ensuring equality and human rights is integral to the exercise of our functions.

This summary provides illustrative examples of concrete action and progress and should not be viewed as an exhaustive list of work that the Scottish Government is undertaking to progress to promote and advance equality, inclusion and human rights.

Public Sector Equality Duty

In 2021, The Scottish Government began the public consultation into the effectiveness of the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland. 128 validated responses were received and the consultation analysis was published in November 2022.

By the next reporting period:
We aim for regulatory changes to come into force in 2025.

This timescale will facilitate a lead in period to ensure that listed authorities understand what will be required of them under the new regulatory regime and for new guidance to be developed.

Mainstreaming Strategy

In the Programme for Government 2022/23 we made a commitment to 'take action to mainstream equality and human rights and take forward specific action to address discrimination'. We are driving this ambitious and progressive agenda forward by the equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy, which is underpinned by a comprehensive approach to improving data collation and analysis, and will ensure that the voices of those impacted shape our approach and policies. This strategy and associated action plan will include actions to improve leadership, accountability and a more positive enabling environment.

By the next reporting period:
The strategy will look at improving how we centre equality, inclusion and human rights in all government policies, decisions and spending.

We will bring forward a draft for consultation in 2023 and begin to implement the strategy by end of 2024.

Organisational Capability, Capacity and Culture

We are continuing to build organisational capability, capacity and culture and this will form part of the Mainstreaming Strategy. In 2022, a centre of Expertise in Equality and Human Rights was established to put human rights and equality at the heart of economic policy development.

By the next reporting period:
We will implement revised training, guidance, tools and resources to ensure that our staff are able to develop policy and deliver services, which advances equality, and respects, protects and fulfils human rights. This includes an introduction to human rights training, virtual workshops and wider guidance on completing Impact Assessments.

We are working to establish centres of expertise across Government in equality and human rights relevant to the respective areas of policy responsibility.

Equality Data and Evidence

In April 2021, we launched the first phase of our Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP) to lay the groundwork for the development of an ambitious cross-professional data improvement plan for the future. The EDIP took action to make equality evidence more wide-ranging and robust across a number of projects, enabling policy makers to develop sound, inclusive policy. This complements improvement work undertaken across the wider public sector.

In March 2023, we published Scotland's new Equality Evidence Strategy, covering the period March 2023 to December 2025. This Equality Evidence Strategy marks the conclusion of the first phase of the EDIP. The strategy sets out a range of actions to strengthen the equality evidence base that will be carried out by the end of 2025, along with a refreshed vision and direction that have been developed based on stakeholder views and feedback. This included a public consultation, carried out between July and October 2022, and series of stakeholder engagement events. An analysis of the 116 consultation responses received and the views raised at the events was carried out by an independent research consultancy.

By the next reporting period:
The Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-25 sets out a refreshed vision, made up of three core principles. Within the Scottish Government, these principles will be realised through the implementation of 45 key improvement actions. Throughout the implementation period of the strategy, we will monitor progress towards achieving each action.

This will include: providing quarterly updates on progress to our strategy
project board, publishing an interim progress report in late 2024 detailing progress towards the completion of the actions and adding any new actions to the plan, and, publishing a final progress report following the conclusion of the strategy.

Equality Budget Processes

Ensuring that the budget decisions we make are rooted in addressing inequality remains vital to achieving our shared ambition for a fairer and more equal Scotland.

We have committed to further embedding equality, inclusion and human rights within all stages of the Scottish Government's budget process. This includes continuously reviewing the remit of the Equality and Human Rights Budget Advisory Group and implementing improvements to the process for the Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement. The Scottish Government also accepted the principle of the recommendation from the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls to further integrate intersectional gender analysis into the Scottish Budget process as part of our wider work on equality and human rights budgeting.

By the next reporting period:
We will build on prior work to analyse the Scottish budget from both a gender and wider equality and human rights perspective.

We are finalising the response to the formal recommendations made by the Equality and Human Rights Budget Advisory Group. These recommendations cover a range of aspects from budgetary processes to culture to the wider ecosystem of impact assessment. The response will outline a set of improvement actions to further embed equality and human rights budgeting.


Equality sits at the heart of public procurement through our Sustainable Procurement Duty, requiring public bodies to consider and act on opportunities to improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing, with a particular focus on reducing inequality within its procurement activity.

Scottish Government routinely acts on opportunities to further advance equality, diversity, inclusion and human rights through its procurement activity. We enable compliance through our national sustainable procurement tools, guidance and support. We also we require organisations to track compliance, against their corporate procurement strategies, in their Annual Reports.

Policy Making: Protected Characteristics and Addressing Inequalities

We know there is inequality in outcomes for people on the basis of their protected characteristics. Combinations of different forms of disadvantage can layer, reinforce and entrench poor outcomes for people.

Taking an 'intersectional approach' can be best understood as a way of identifying, understanding and tackling structural inequality in a given context that accounts for the lived experience of people with intersecting identities. Intersectionality helps us to understand how people experience services such as education and healthcare differently as a result of their identity and unequal power dynamics. Understanding these differences facilitates the development of more effective policy that tackles structural disadvantage experienced by marginalised groups.

An intersectional approach is not just about considering the experiences of those at the intersection of multiple characteristics. It is also about policymakers and analysts assessing their own experiences and how this impacts on their ability to develop, deliver and evaluate policies.

Actions we are taking to support policy making as we mainstream equalities, inclusion and human rights are set out below. While these are outlined under protected characteristics or inequalities we also understand the important need for an intersectional approach to policy making.

Protected Characteristics


The Scottish Government recognises the positive contribution which people of all ages make to their communities and sees the value in bringing generations together.

A Fairer Scotland for Older People – A Framework for Action was published in April 2019. The framework was developed to challenge the inequalities older people face as they age and to celebrate older people in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has continued to work with the Older People's Strategic Action Forum (OPSAF) and a progress report was published in 2021 with the final report due to be published later in 2023.

Our new five-year Social Isolation and Loneliness Plan was launched in March. This plan will focus on reconnecting people. Additionally, a new Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund was launched in conjunction with the plan.

Through strategic oversight from the Equalities Subgroup we have worked with delivery Guarantee has supported tailored opportunities for young people with protected characteristics.

Furthermore, we are working to implement the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 which amongst other things aims to improve how the voice of the child is heard in family court cases.

In March 2022, we published Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan, our second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan for the period 2022-26. This plan sets out how we will work in partnership with the public, private and third sectors, together with people and communities to deliver progress against the targets set in statute through the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. The plan sets out action to provide immediate support to families, with the value of the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per child per week from 14 November 2022, as well as wide-ranging action to deliver the change needed in the longer term to support families.

By the next reporting period:
We will host a Festival of Ageing to celebrate ageing and highlight the benefits and opportunities of our ageing population. The 2023 Festival is aimed at business, public sector, third sector and communities.

We will continue to focus on the delivery of our national mission to tackle child poverty and implementing the ambitious actions set out within Best Start, Bright Futures together with partners across Scotland.

We also continue to grant fund a range of specialist and third sector partners and organisations to support young people furthest from the labour market, including for challenges related to disability, care experience, race, gender and child poverty.


We are committed to promoting the rights of disabled people and ensuring that they benefit from all that we are doing.

£5 million of our Equality and Human Rights Fund provides support for disabled people's organisations to deliver work focused on tackling inequality and discrimination, furthering equality, and advancing the realisation of human rights in Scotland.

We also established an Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) (AEOFS), supporting those who wished to stand in the 2017 local government elections. In 2021, 28 disabled people received awards to run for party selection and as candidates in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. In Scottish Council elections in 2022, 54 received awards, 46 people became candidates and 22 people were elected.

By the next reporting period:
We are developing a new Disability Equality Strategy. The Scottish Government convened a steering group to develop the new strategy in 2022. The membership of the steering group is made up of Disabled People's Organisations.

In light of the current impact of the cost crisis on disabled people, the former Minister for Equalities and Older People approved an immediate priorities plan and set up a Short Life Working Group to focus on progressing this work. The overarching strategic plan will continue to be developed simultaneously are we will consult with wider stakeholders prior to publication.

Religion and Belief

In 2021 we established a dedicated Faith and Belief policy team to support mainstreaming and inclusion of faith and belief interests across Scottish Government.

Delivering on our 2021/22 Programme for Government commitment, we established the Faith and Belief Representatives Group, which meets with government officials bi-monthly. It discusses a range of policy issues, supports multi-faith collaboration at a strategic level, and has helped develop a new approach to engagement.

In March 2023, we published our Faith and Belief Engagement Strategy, produced in collaboration with the Faith and Belief Representatives Group as well as other stakeholders. This will strengthen communication, engagement and collaboration between Scottish Government and Scotland's diverse faith and belief communities.

By the next reporting period:
From the strategy, we will develop a workplan to progress the following key objectives: improving our understanding of faith and belief communities in Scotland; developing external and internal engagement on faith and belief; developing interfaith work in Scotland; reviewing funding for faith and belief organisations, and; improving the EQIA process in relation to faith and belief.

We will continue to integrate knowledge and understanding of faith and belief in policy across Scottish Government. Alongside this we will facilitate and support engagement through the Faith and Belief Representatives Group on a number of key policy and legislative issues that have potential impacts in relation to religion or belief including, in 2023: Assisted Dying, Ending Conversion Practices, Safe Access Zones (Abortion Services) and the Human Rights Bill.


The Scottish Government is determined to show leadership in advancing race equality, tackling racism and addressing barriers that prevent people from minority ethnic communities from realising their potential; as well as supporting them to realise their human rights.

The Race Equality Action Plan (REAP) final report mapped progress throughout the three years of the REAP from 2017 to 2021.

In 2021, we provided £21 million under the Equality and Human Rights Fund for a three-year period, of which nearly £5.5 million is specifically for organisations working on race equality issues. Through working with these organisations, we have developed a better understanding of the impact of racism on not only racialised minorities, but society as a whole, and are better positioned to respond effectively.

In April 2022, we established the Anti-Racism Interim Governance Group to Develop National Anti-Racist Infrastructure (AIGG); an independently chaired group of public appointees tasked with scrutinising the Government's delivery of anti-racist outcomes for minority ethnic people in Scotland and providing recommendations on how the Scottish Government can embed anti-racism into the infrastructure of government.

In October 2019 we launched the Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan (GTAP), which consists of 33 actions across health, education, accommodation, equality and social security. The plan has recently been revised to ensure it remains relevant to the needs of Gypsy/Traveller communities, taking into account the current context. A full evaluation of the action plan will be carried out by the end of May 2023.

By the next reporting period:
From 2023 onwards our focus is on developing anti-racist infrastructure and bringing about system change. By system change, we mean fundamentally challenging and changing established ways of working, including policies and processes, and establishing clear expectations and objectives to work towards. Effective oversight, governance, and accountability will come from the establishment of an independent Race Observatory. In order to provide the necessary commitment to establish, implement and continue the Observatory, Scottish Government has committed £1.5 million for 2023-2024.

The Scottish Government will provide up to £20 million to local authorities from 2021 to 2026, through the Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund for more and better accommodation. To drive a significant improvement in the quality of sites going forward, we have published an Interim Site Design Guide for Gypsy/Traveller sites, developed in conjunction with local authorities and with input from members of Gypsy/Traveller communities.


Gender inequality has a wide-reaching impact on individuals, families, communities, and the economy. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that everyone in Scotland is treated fairly and has the same opportunities to reach their potential, regardless of their sex.

In June 2022, the Scottish Government and COSLA published a new short-life Equally Safe Delivery Plan which will run until Autumn 2023. Equally Safe is Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. It focuses on the need for prevention of violence and recognises that violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of women's inequality.

We are investing record levels of funding, including in frontline services, to support victims of violence against women and girls. Through the Delivering Equally Safe (DES) fund, the Scottish Government is providing £19 million per year to support 121 projects from 112 organisations that focus on early intervention, prevention as well as support services.

Lone parents and low income mothers will experience a positive impact from tackling child poverty spend, including the increased spend on the Scottish Child Payment and Child Bridging Payments. We have Increased the amount of the Scottish Child Payment – the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK – whilst also expanding it to thousands more families. From 14 November 2022 the Scottish Child Payment increased to £25 per week per eligible child and extended to all eligible 6-15 year olds.

A Women's Leadership Panel was established in January 2022, to address gender inequality and improve women's experiences within the justice system. This panel will guide and enhance the scope and uptake for gender competent policy making, and the design of justice policies which can go further for women.

Phase Two of the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) launched in 2022 with a programme of scrutiny as recommendations from Phase One are implemented. The Council has now completed its First Focus of Scrutiny and will be examining the gendered impacts of the cost-of-living crisis in its next focus. It will also establish a Participation Panel drawn up of women with lived experience from marginalised communities

By the next reporting period:
By the next reporting period we will have created the first annual statement and report on gender-competent policy making across the Scottish Government. We will continue to work to fulfil the recommendations of the NACWG.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Reassignment

We continue to work with a wide range of third sector equality organisations to ensure that the voices of those with lived experience can help to improve outcomes for LGBTI communities across Scotland. We are funding a range of projects to tackle inequality and realise rights for LGBTI people across all areas of Scottish life. For example, through the Equality and Human Rights Fund over £3 million is being provided to five organisations working to promote LGBTI equality in Scotland for the years 2021-24.

In the 2022/23 Programme for Government, we reiterated that we would introduce legislation to ban conversion practices that is as comprehensive as possible within Scotland's devolved powers by the end of 2023.

In line with our commitment in the Programme for Government 2021/22, we also introduced the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill to provide a more streamlined process for trans men and women applying for legal gender recognition which was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 22 December 2022. However, The Secretary of State for Scotland has made an Order under section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 that prevents the Presiding Officer from submitting the Bill for Royal Assent.

The Non-Binary Working Group submitted their recommendations to the Minister for Equalities and Older People in March 2022 and the Scottish Government issued a response in July 2022. We are now developing a Non-Binary Equality Action Plan which will provide detail on how we will improve Non-Binary Equality.

Since June 2021 mixed-sex couples have been able to form a civil partnership. Of the 169 civil partnerships registered in the fourth quarter of 2022, 141 involved mixed-sex couples.

By the next reporting period:
We want to improve equality and bring about real, positive and lasting change to the lives of non-binary people. We are now in the process of developing an action plan, based on the Non-Binary Working Group's recommendations, which will set out more fully how we intend to do this.

We are also in the process of developing proposals for legislation banning conversion practices which will be subject to public consultation to bring real and lasting change to the lives of LGBTI people in Scotland.

Cross-Cutting Inequality

Inequalities exist across all aspects of our society and have a significant impact on people's lives. Addressing these inequalities is essential for creating a fair and just society.

This report will examine four key themes of cross-cutting inequality: education; employment; refugees and people seeking asylum; and socio-economic. We recognise that this list is not exhaustive, but our aim is to highlight some of the most pressing issues facing our communities today, and to explore policy developments that can help to address them.


The Curriculum for Excellence presents a range of opportunities to articulate and embed equality, diversity, social justice and children's rights in its design and implementation.

We continue to tackle the under-representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) courses and careers. An Improving Gender Balance and Equalities Team based in Education Scotland is working with schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings to provide professional learning and ongoing support in delivering actions to tackle gender bias and improve gender imbalances in participation, subject choice and learner pathways.

We also implemented LGBT-inclusive education in September 2021, including launch of a centralised website with available resources, and development of e-learning for teachers. In August 2021, publication of non-statutory guidance, 'Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools: Guidance for Scottish Schools' , which sets out a range of advice on legislation, policy and practice including illustrative examples. This will help schools to support transgender young people, while promoting the rights of all pupils.

Additionally, the Anti-Racism in Education Programme (AREP) seeks to create an education system in Scotland that is fundamentally anti-racist and where the workforce and curriculum reflects and responds to all learners.

The National Discussion 'Let's Talk Scottish Education' was an unprecedented opportunity for children, young people and those who support them to have their voices heard in a debate designed to establish a compelling and consensual vision for Scottish education. The output is a 20-year vision for the education system and an accompanying Call to Action, setting out the short-, medium- and long-term steps we need to take to realise our vision.

By the next reporting period:
The Scottish Government will consider the National Discission report and respond in the Autumn of 2023. Additionally, a new and meaningful platform for engaging children and young people in education policy will be developed.

We will take forward actions that will lead to an increase in the diversity of the education workforce, in line with the target of having a 4% minority ethnic teacher population by 2030. We will create new resources on key areas for development of anti-racist education focused on early years and personal and social education in the first instance.

We will take action to ensure that a range of professional learning opportunities which build racial literacy is accessible and relevant to educators across the country.

In 2022, the Scottish Government commissioned research into the educational experiences of Gypsy/Traveller children and their families. This is expected to be completed by the end of April 2023 and will help inform improvement in the way this community is supported into and through their education.

We will publish a national framework to prevent and respond to harmful behaviour and gender-based violence in schools. We are reviewing and updating our anti-bullying guidance 'Respect for All'. The review will include consideration of guidance around prejudice-based bullying and will take account of the recent findings of the thematic inspection on approaches to recording and monitoring bullying incidents in schools.


Structural barriers persist in and beyond our labour market, and not everyone benefits from the same opportunities. Our refreshed Fair Work Action Plan, Becoming a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025, sets out actions to promote fair and inclusive workplaces across Scotland. This incorporates actions on tackling the gender pay gap, the disability employment gap, and our anti-racist employment strategy, driving fair work practices for all.

By the next reporting period:
We will lead by example on the Fair Work agenda, including sharing and learning of practice. By 2025, we aim to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces where workers have security of pay and contract, can develop and utilise their skills and have an effective voice in the workplace, making Scotland a Fair Work Nation.

Working with employers, equality stakeholders and training providers, we aim to:

  • develop and implement an intersectional and anti-racist training framework by 2025;
  • reduce the gender pay gap in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary term (May 2026), and;
  • at least halve the disability employment gap by 2038 to 18.7 percentage points from the 2016 baseline of 37.4 percentage points.

Displaced People, Refugees and People Seeking Asylum

The Ukraine war has resulted in a crisis that has set in motion a humanitarian response from countries across the globe. From the outset, the Scottish Government has offered its unwavering support for Ukraine and created its Super Sponsor Scheme to provide a quicker and safer route to sanctuary for those fleeing war.

To date, Scotland has sponsored more Ukrainians, per head of population, than any other nation of the UK. As of 4 April 2023, more than 19,500 arrivals to the UK have been sponsored by the Scottish Government through the successful super sponsor scheme – providing a fast and safe route to safety and sanctuary.

The Scottish Government is working with partners at COSLA, Scottish Refugee Council and the University of Glasgow to develop and deliver the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project (NSRIDP) with funding from the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). The project supports delivery of activities which align with the principles and outcomes of the New Scots refugee integration strategy, as well as enabling research which will inform future work supporting refugees, people seeking asylum and communities across Scotland.

In March 2021 we published the Ending Destitution Together Strategy and progressed the delivery of this strategy in partnership with COSLA. In December 2022 we published our Year One Progress Report.

By the next reporting period:
We will refine our accommodation offer for displaced people from Ukraine with a shift in focus from shorter-term accommodation to longer-term-and-more options. We will work closely with colleagues leading on the New Scots strategy to support wider integration of displaced people into our communities.

We will refresh the New Scots refugee integration strategy with our partners to improve access to support, reduce inequality and enhance inclusion.

The Scottish Government and COSLA have been working together to improve support for people with no recourse to public funds. Work is underway on a range of actions to deliver on essential needs, enable access to specialist advice and advocacy and promote inclusive approaches, so that people can pursue their ambitions and be active members of our communities.


We recognise that the impacts of the current cost of living will not be felt equally and the overriding priority is to support, as far as possible, the people and services from the worst impacts of the current cost-of-living increases.

Financial help is one of the most significant measures we can take to support households who are in difficulty or on low incomes.

Increasing the amount of the Scottish Child Payment – the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK – whilst also expanding it to thousands more families, is an important action that can mitigate the cost crisis. From 14 November 2022 the Scottish Child Payment increased to £25 per week per eligible child and extended to all eligible 6-15 year olds. Our five family payments including the Scottish Child Payment could be worth around £10,000 by the time an eligible child turns 6 and over £20,000 by the time an eligible child is 16.

The Scottish Government made Programme for Government commitments in 2021-22 and 2022-23 to publish a plan, grounded in human rights, that sets out the action we will take towards ending the need for food banks as a primary response to hardship.

Our online consultation on the draft plan closed in January 2022 and over 400 people responded. We also ran a series of 10 workshops targeted at reaching people with direct experience of food insecurity and food aid providers.

By the next reporting period:
The final version of the 'Ending the Need for Food Banks' plan will be published in the coming months.


Email: Joe.Smith@gov.scot

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