6. Research, Analysis and Strategy
Although the Fairer Scotland Action Plan's main focus was on the 50 core actions, it also included commitments on new research and strategic approaches. This section provides an update on progress with these.
Research and Analysis
Scotland's Equality Evidence Strategy was published in July 2017. High quality equality evidence and analysis is vital to underpin effective and inclusive policy making in Scotland. However, despite improvements in recent years, there remain gaps in Scotland's equality evidence base. This report sets out a four year strategy (2017-21) describing the equality evidence gaps we have identified in concert with our partner organisations and academic colleagues, and details a strategic approach to strengthening Scotland's equality evidence base.
In August 2017, we published new research on older people and employment . Professor Wendy Loretto at Edinburgh University Business School led this work, talking in depth to employers and older people about the barriers and enablers to keeping older people in the workplace. A research report and a policy booklet summarising the key findings and recommendations were published and an event held with a range of employers from the private and the public sector on the same day. The Scottish Government will now consider the recommendations and the outcomes from our additional discussions with employers in further policy development.
In September 2017, we published a working paper that tested a methodology for a Gender Index for Scotland , which has been developed with the help of a range of external stakeholders (thank you for your help). Producing a Gender Index that provides is both robust and helpful in developing policy has proved challenging. This initial working paper provides a strong basis for follow up discussions with stakeholders on the best way to take this work forward in future.
An evidence review of the life chances of young people in Scotland , prepared for the First Minister's Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, was published in July 2017. This was a companion piece to the Independent Advisor's report to the First Minister on the life chances of young people in Scotland, which was published on the same day.
On 2 December 2016 the Minister for Social Security launched A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Our Delivery Plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The plan represents the culmination of over two years of detailed discussion, negotiation and co-production with disabled people's organisations and with individual disabled people. Implementation of the plan is now under way across Government and our partnership with the sector will continue as we drive forward the specific actions which have been identified.
The plan contains five longer-term ambitions and 93 actions over the course of the current parliament to make meaningful progress towards these ambitions:
- Support services that meet disabled people's needs;
- Decent incomes and fairer working lives;
- Places that are accessible to everyone;
- Protected rights; and
- Active participation.
Scotland's first Accessible Travel Framework was published in September 2016 to help disabled people enjoy the same travel rights as everyone else.
Scotland's first British Sign Language ( BSL) National Plan - to help improve opportunities and outcomes for people whose first or preferred language is BSL - was published in October 2017, as required by the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015. This will set out the wide range of steps we will take. We will report on progress in October 2020.
In December 2016 the Minister for Social Security launched A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People : Our Delivery Plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The plan represents the culmination of over two years of detailed discussion, negotiation and co-production with disabled people's organisations and with individual disabled people. Implementation of the plan is now under way across Government and our partnership with the sector will continue as we drive forward the specific actions which have been identified. The plan contains five longer-term ambitions and 93 actions over the course of the current parliament to make meaningful progress towards these ambitions: support services that meet disabled people's needs; decent incomes and fairer working lives; places that are accessible to everyone; protected rights; and active participation.
Scottish Rural Action ( SRA) are now developing their working groups stemming from the last Rural Parliament. Through the development of a strategic plan SRA are engaging on a range of themes to add value to the fairer Scotland agenda across rural Scotland. The working groups will identify the actions needed to make progress across the priority areas that includes Digital Connectivity, Local Democracy, Rural Enterprise, Land and informing a national transport strategy. SRA are also open and interested in shaping any specific fairer events planned by others as part of their wider engagement strategy particularly where this fits with the planned priorities.
In March 2017, the 10 year Mental Health Strategy (2017 - 2027) was launched. The central vision is of a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, expect recovery, and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma. There are a number of actions in the Strategy aimed at ensuring that children and young adults have good mental health and that agencies act early enough when issues emerge and impact young lives. The very first action in the Strategy commits to a review of Personal and Social Education ( PSE), the role of pastoral guidance in local authority schools, and services for counselling for children and young people.
Working to improve mental care will be broad and far-reaching, and will require addressing challenges and developing solutions across themes such as Poverty, Education, Justice, Social Security and Employment in addition to the work taken forward by Health and Social Care. The Strategy is clear that the inequalities that drive differences in physical health outcomes are the same inequalities that detrimentally impact on mental health. Poverty and social exclusion can increase the likelihood of mental ill health, and mental ill-health can lead to greater social exclusion and higher levels of poverty. In 2017/18 for the first time, NHS investment in mental health with exceed £1 billion, and there will be a further investment of £150 million over 5 years to support mental health innovation. We have also committed to increase our funding of the mental health workforce rising to an additional £35 million in 5 years' time to support 800 additional mental health workers.
We will also make changes to the priorities in the Maternal and Infant Nutrition Framework (2011). This is to help us focus on helping women with nutrition and diet before and during pregnancy and in the first years of life over the next five years. Training materials are being collated using a " Once for Scotland" approach. This will be embedded into the on-going training as part of the Health Visitor pathway.
The establishment of a Strategic Labour Market Group ( SLMG) was one of the central features of the Labour Market Strategy. The SLMG is chaired by the Minister for Employment and Training with membership drawn from across trade unions, academia, industry and the third sector. The Group works in a complementary manner alongside the Fair Work Commission, to provide Scottish Government with advice and recommendations and to ensure the LMS remains strong, adaptable and resilient. The Group has been considering the impact of Brexit on immigration and their future work plan is expected to include skills and productivity, and automation. Amongst other areas of progress we met our target of 1,000 Living Wage accredited Employers in October 2017, continuing our work on closing the gender pay gap and supporting the Fair Work Convention.
We are developing a Social Isolation and Loneliness Strategy and plan to publish this in draft for consultation soon. We plan to consult widely, with a focus on empowering communities to lead in this area.
A review of the first five years of the Age, Home and Community Strategy will be published by the end of 2017 and a new strategy will be forthcoming early in the new year.