Fairer Scotland action plan: progress report 2019

Progress made on the Fairer Scotland action plan published in 2016.

Fairness Pledge updates

We know that the Scottish Government cannot eradicate poverty and inequality on its own and that a collective effort is required with partners across the sector and beyond to build a Fairer Scotland.  As such, our Fairer Scotland Action Plan contains Fairness Pledges from organisations who are committed to working together with us to realise this vision.  This year, we have invited these organisations to set out the work they are doing that not only helps deliver on the Fairer Scotland Action Plans actions but also helps address the recommendations in Shifting the Curve and the Life Chances of Young People in Scotland.

The Carnegie UK Trust pledged to work to improve access to affordable credit.

The Trust has continued to deliver a significant programme of work this year, collaborating with governments, charities, regulators and affordable credit providers across Scotland and throughout the UK to make more affordable credit available to those who need it.

Seven local authorities – Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, Moray, North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, and Stirling – have signed up to work with us on a new study to map the supply and demand for credit in each of their localities. We look forward to publishing the findings soon. We will also soon publish the results of our study into the financial investments required to substantially grow the UK’s personal lending CDFI sector.

At national level, we were delighted to be hosted by Linda Fabiani MSP at a reception in the Scottish Parliament to celebrate the work of our credit union consortium, comprising East Kilbride Credit Union, Castle Community Bank, Kingdom Community Bank, 1st Alliance (Ayrshire) Credit Union and West Lothian Credit Union. The five credit unions are working together to increase the number of businesses offering savings and loans to employees via payroll. Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP addressed the event.

Our Affordable Credit Action Group, led by the Very Reverend John Chalmers, continues to provide strategic oversight of our work in this area and we have been pleased to widen membership of the group this year, welcoming representatives from Money Advice Scotland, the Money and Pensions Service, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Our Affordable Credit Loan Fund, jointly backed by the Trust and the Scottish Government, has made a £500,000 investment in the online affordable credit provider Fair For You, supporting them to extend their services across Scotland. 

At UK level, we have worked closely throughout the year with Fair For All Finance, the new body established to distribute dormant bank accounts monies to advance affordable credit. There will be significant learning and impact of this model for affordable credit providers across the UK, including in Scotland.

Corra Foundation (previously known as Lloyds TSB Foundation For Scotland) pledged to help the Scottish Government support innovative approaches to tackling poverty and deprivation. As well as continuing to be a thoughtful grant-maker, they would work differently to reach the communities that historically have accessed very little charitable funding.

Over the past 12 months Corra Foundation has continued its commitment to promote fairness and growth of aspirations which improve quality of life for people in Scotland. Corra Foundation has strengthened its capacity to analyse the wealth of data and insights collated from the charities and communities it works alongside to better understand the challenges, as well as the opportunities for change, that contribute to a fairer Scotland.

Getting alongside communities

Corra Foundation works alongside nine communities, each identified as areas where traditional grant-making has not reached. Corra engages with local people and partners to understand the shared vision and support the change that matters to the community, including:

  • Supporting local people to have their voices heard in decisions that affect their community. For instance, community members’ involvement in Local Governance Review Democracy Matters conversations and Participatory budgeting groups; an opportunity for local people to have their say on how money is spent in their area.
  • Supporting communities to participate in and take the lead on Community Action Plans.
  • Getting alongside local people to support them to turn their ideas into action, including an upcycling school uniform project, food shares, parent and toddler groups and creative art sessions. Between January to September 2019, 23 ideas had been developed by community members. 
  • Over 1,400 hours of support has been provided by community members in their local areas helping and supporting change.
  • Celebrating community action and place-based approaches at Corra’s People in Place Scottish Parliament Reception[48] in September, which highlighted the importance of local people driving positive change.

Appetite for Change

  • The Appetite for Change[49] strand of Corra’s People in Place programme is progressing well with people in Fort William and Lochaber designing a project model to support ideas and action in their community.
  • Participatory Scotland is a new initiative in partnership with Participatory City Foundation. The aim is to work collaboratively with local authorities and other partners in each place to support the development of a more engaged, active and socially connected population.

Grant making

  • The importance of listening to applicant and funded organisations is critical to Corra’s grant making. In 2019 a customer satisfaction survey was conducted inviting all applicants and funded organisations to inform Corra’s processes.
  • Loneliness and isolation continue to be key themes amongst grant applications. During the past 12 months over 43% of Corra’s grant making supported the reduction in isolation and 29% reducing inequalities. 
  • Corra is committed to learning from the insights of the people and charities working to create positive change. Corra’s recent poverty insight briefing[50] highlights key learning gathered from the organisations and communities Corra works alongside, including challenges created by social security sanctions and the importance of tackling the stigma associated with poverty.
  • Corra – in collaboration with the National Lottery Community Fund, Comic Relief, The Gannochy Trust and William Grant Foundation – have developed The Listening Fund which launched earlier in 2019. The fund aims to support charities to listen and respond to the needs and experiences of children and young people, so that they can enjoy their rights to be heard and involved in the decisions that affect their lives.

Dundee City Council pledged that all recommendations of the Dundee Fairness Commission will be taken forward.

The independent Cost of the School Day Project facilitated by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland is entering its final phase in Dundee. Its exit strategy is designed to enable local education leaders to mainstream this approach as a permanent aspect of planning and the day to day life of the school. An external evaluation undertaken by NHS Health Scotland has found that the work in Dundee has led to positive practice changes at school level, policy changes at local authority level, improvements in awareness, understanding and attitudes towards poverty, and contributed to positive short and medium term outcomes for children.

A third Dundee Fairness Commission has been recruited to continue the model that ran from June 2017 to October 2018. Community members of the previous commission are being supported to develop a new role that will enable them to continue to campaign for improved services and quality of life for those struggling against poverty. They have also provided support and guidance to members and organisers of several other poverty truth commission style groups which have been established in other local authorities across Scotland.

Other notable Dundee Fairness Action Plan achievements include:

  • the establishment of a Drug Commission. This investigated the causes and impact of the high levels of drug-related deaths in the city and produced a hard-hitting series of recommendations on how local systems and services could be improved. Central to the Drug Commission's work was the extensive involvement of people with lived experience, their families and carers and members of local communities.
  • Achieving accreditation as the UK's first Living Wage City, setting ambitious targets for the number of local employers becoming living wage employers and the number of employees who will benefit from uplifts in wage levels.

Inclusion Scotland pledged to seize every opportunity to ensure that disabled people are full included in the delivery and future development of all aspects of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan.

Inclusion Scotland has been very active in promoting disabled people’s employment, both in terms of policy and through delivery of our “We Can Work” living wage internship programme. On policy, we have been actively involved in work to progress the Scottish Government’s Disability Employment Gap Action Plan. We continue to deliver up to 30 internships places for disabled people, supporting employers with inclusive job design and recruitment processes, in a wide variety of public and third sector organisations, and are now rolling out the programme to private sector employers. Latest figures show that 76% of our interns have gone into full-time employment in their preferred fields. Our work with the Scottish Government’s Graduate Development Programme has resulted in the astonishing statistic of 62% of this year’s graduate intake being disabled people – a huge endorsement of the work of our internship programme and follow up support and advice.

The need for more accessible housing is of fundamental importance to disabled people, given the current shortage. Our argument that ‘Housing for Varying Needs’ (the design standard for grant-funded social housing) is now 20 years old and needs updating has been accepted and there will be a wholesale review. Following our work to promote the development of a single cross tenure design and space standard in Scotland, ‘Housing to 2040’, the Scottish Government’s draft vision for housing and communities now includes a principle that tenure-neutral space and quality standards for new homes (and existing homes where possible) should be set specifically to improve and protect quality of living and of place. We have achieved improvements to Scottish Government guidance on regulations we hope will be laid in the Scottish Parliament by the end of the year that will improve the experience of disabled people needing to adapt a common part of their home. We also gave evidence to the Infrastructure Commission to ensure that accessible housing and funding and improved systems for adaptations are considered in any 30 year infrastructure plan. 

We have continued to work to ensure that lived experience is central to the development of policy. Our Poverty and Social Security Panel met with the Cabinet Secretary to give their views on the Disability Assistance policy consultation. We have continued to be involved in stakeholder groups, including one working with Social Security Scotland to embed inclusive communications into the agency’s work. We were delighted that the People-Led Policy Panel (PLPP) model developed by Inclusion Scotland was drawn upon to develop the Social Security Charter, and then again for developing a framework for monitoring and evaluating whether expectations in the Charter are being met. Our PLPP on social care support worked with officials and others to co-produce a vision for social care and work-streams for the reform of Adult Social Care. Meanwhile, at local level, our Localisation and Empowerment project in the Highlands has supported the establishment of a Disability Highland Community of Practice and their efforts to establish a Highland-wide Disabled People’s Organisation.

The Access to Elected Office Fund, a model designed and delivered by Inclusion Scotland and that has attracted international interest, has been gearing up to support disabled candidates in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. This aims to ensure lived experience is central to policy by supporting more disabled people to become politicians and policy-makers themselves.

Through the involvement of our CEO in the Poverty and Inequality Commission until its replacement with a statutory body, we helped to ensure that the particularly high incidence of child poverty among households with a disabled parent and child informed work on child poverty and that access issues were considered in other strands of its work e.g. transport. The welcome news on the Scottish Child Payment, which the Commission had pushed for, may in the longer term provide a vehicle through which to target additional funds to such households and others with particularly high incidences of child poverty.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation pledged to set out their strategy to solve poverty in common with the Fairer Scotland Action Plan through a range of actions.

JRF is supporting the direct participation of people with experience of poverty, as well as continuing to publish independent research evidence on the changing face of poverty in Scotland and across the UK. This year, we have supported the work of the Poverty Truth Community and are involved closely in the work of Edinburgh Poverty Commission and North Ayrshire’s Fair for All Commission. JRF is committed to finding more effective ways to talk about poverty, in order to build the public and political will to solve it. To that end, we hosted a Framing for Influence event in Glasgow for grassroots organisation and campaigners making use of the framing toolkit[51] developed with The Frameworks Institute.

Our work to build solutions to poverty will focus on the three ‘anchors’ of housing, social security and work – similar to the key drivers in the Scottish Government’s Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, ‘Every Child, Every Chance’. To mark Challenge Poverty Week, where we partner with Poverty Alliance, we published Poverty in Scotland 2019[52] which analysed trends in poverty over the 20 years of devolution. Against a backdrop of poverty levels rising again after an earlier phase of progress, the report highlights the contribution of housing, and in particular social rents, to Scotland’s substantially lower child poverty rate than in the rest of the UK. On social security, JRF formed a partnership with IPPR Scotland to explore how the new Scottish Child Payment can be shaped to drive poverty rates lower. Our findings[53] have been shaped by the experiences of low-income families. Our research on the roll-out of Universal Credit in Glasgow will be published early in 2020. We have also published research[54] from Strathclyde Business School on influencing employers to tackle in-work poverty.

We are continuing our social investment work in Scotland as we pledged in 2016. JRF is part of the Fair by Design[55] coalition which aims to end the poverty premium in key goods and services within a decade. This includes supporting Fair For You[56] which targets the high-cost rent-to-buy market by offering white goods and home essentials at an affordable price, saving customers more than £500 on average per item. This is a GB-wide service proving popular in Scotland, in part due to remote and rural areas having the same access and costs as urban areas. In a similar way, we are investing to tackle high-cost credit by partnering with the Scottish Government, Carnegie UK Trust and Social Investment Scotland to boost access to affordable loans for low-income households.      

NHS Health Scotland pledged to help the Scottish Government in its ambition to end child poverty in Scotland

NHS Health Scotland has been working to support NHS and local authority partners in the development of local child poverty action reports, both as a ‘critical friend’ and through leadership of the Local Child Poverty Coordination Group. This group comprises national partners, including the Improvement Service, Scottish Government, Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit (SPIRU) and CoSLA, to provide coordination of a joint plan of local support and to facilitate two-way engagement between local and national partners.

We have continued to support the further development of financial inclusion pathways between midwifery, health visiting and welfare/money advice services.  This includes producing a 'Raising the issue of money' resource aimed at showing how these staff can talk about money with the pregnant women and families they work with; supporting the Universal Pathway for Health Visiting Quality Improvement Collaborative on financial inclusion, and co-hosting a conference with the Improvement Service on the benefits of setting up welfare advice and health partnerships.

Our Facing Up to Child Poverty in School Practice Network is offering a peer support and learning forum to strengthen local partnership action on cost barriers of school. We have also commissioned an evaluation of the Cost of the School Day programme which will be published in early 2020. 

We have collaborated with the Poverty Alliance to develop a Challenging Poverty Stigma and Discrimination digital learning hub to specifically support public service managers to bring about change in their organisations, teams and where appropriate, their partners to be launched in February 2020.

Alongside our work to specifically help the Scottish Government tackle child poverty, NHS Health Scotland has a number of other work strands which support a wide range of further ambitions in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan.

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy has stalled across all socio-economic groups and in our poorest areas it has actually decreased.  This means that health inequalities are worsening and that socioeconomic position is increasingly impacting on how long we live for, and how long we live in good health. Trends like this have not been seen for decades and are not inevitable. The best evidence currently available[57] suggests that this is due to austerity and that pressures on health and social care services are also contributing. We are leading a programme of research and collaboration across the UK to identify what needs to be done now at a UK level, at a national level in Scotland and at a local level. 

Health Inequalities

We are leading the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) Informing Interventions to reduce health Inequalities (Triple I) project that brings together robust evidence to estimate the potential population health impact of specific interventions.  The tool was used to compare the impact of income-based policies on health and health inequalities. The report[58] suggests that selected income-based policies could improve health and narrow health inequalities in Scotland. These policies include: increasing means-tested benefits by 50%; introducing illustrative Citizen's Basic Income (CBI) schemes that incorporate increases to Income Tax rates; and increasing devolved benefits by 50% and introducing a 'real' Living Wage. It shows the most effective income-based policies for reducing health inequalities are likely to be those that disproportionately increase incomes for those with the lowest incomes.

Social Security/Benefits

We provided written evidence[59] to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into the impact of welfare policy in Scotland where we highlighted concerns that this policy is contributing to poor health outcomes and health inequalities in Scotland.  We made a series of recommendations to protect population health and reduce health inequalities in Scotland, including abolishing the five week wait for Universal Credit, removing the benefit cap and the two child limit, abolishing benefit sanctions for all, and supporting a rights-based approach to social security, informed by the experiences of people who use the system.

Early Learning and Childcare (ELC)

We have been supporting the expansion of ELC by undertaking an evaluability assessment, developing an evaluation framework and support to the actual evaluation. We have also produced two rapid evidence briefings: one looking at the likely impact on parents of their preschool children attending ELC[60] and the other on impacts for the child[61].

Mental Health and Wellbeing

We are developing a public health response to improving children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing to ensure that an inequalities and rights based approach underpins discussions. This is being informed by a series of consultative events, a policy and legislation mapping, and the establishment of a national collaborative with partners in health and social care, community and learning development, first responders including Police Scotland, and stakeholders with a public health focus. We are also creating opportunities for authentic engagement with children and young people to influence activities. This includes the production of a short film exploring the themes of relationships, children’s rights and trauma sensitive approaches using education settings as an example of how these themes can be applied. 

The Poverty Truth Community pledged to ensure that people experiencing poverty are at the heart of work to overcome it.

The Poverty Truth Community (formerly Poverty Truth Commission) has continued to work to ensure that people experiencing poverty are at the heart of work to overcome it. Our work has moved beyond the commission model and our change of name reflects this new way of working – creating a movement for change led by people experiencing poverty.

Community members are involved in working, speaking, writing and research at a local, national and international level – working to ensure full participation of people experiencing poverty, not just consultation.

As a Community we have also agreed three new areas of work after hearing new stories, starting new conversations, and working together with people within positions of influence:

1. Poverty and young people

2. Poverty and universal credit

3. Poverty and work.

We continue to talk with and support the new PTC style conversations across Scotland. As part of this, we were involved in a roundtable discussion in March this year which enabled us to share learning across all of the PTCs and discuss the best ways in which those with lived experience can be supported to push for real change. We came together again in November to discuss themes that are emerging in each PTC, commonalities that exist and how the PTC-style conversations can support work to address these issues.

The Prince's Trust Scotland pledged to expand Mosaic, their new mentoring programme for BME young people who are growing up in the most deprived communities.

The Prince’s Trust Scotland worked with 8,000 new young people in 2018-19 who faced significant barriers and disadvantage in accessing education, training and employment opportunities. Overall 75% of all supported young people achieved a positive destination with 48% moving into work, 29% either staying in or moving into education and 8% pursuing volunteering.

Youth Employment

We pledge to continue prioritising the delivery of employability programmes in collaboration with our network of corporate and public sector partners that help to mitigate employment barriers for disadvantaged young people.

We pledge to further develop in school opportunities for school age young people to meet relatable role models and mentors from industry and have career focussed experiences to help them kick start successful careers.

Building on our successful, innovative partnership in Ayrshire we pledge to continue to develop our working relationships with the network of Regional DYW groups and help sustain systematic engagement between schools, colleges, the third sector and employers.

In 2018-19 we worked with 532 young people through our employability programmes. Of these:

  • 52% were female, 46% were male.
  • 6% were care leavers
  • 25% had a disability
  • 27% had mental health needs
  • 68% secured a positive destination


We pledge to continue our work providing alternative learning experiences for young people struggling at school through our school-based programme, Achieve. Our programme improves wellbeing, builds core competencies and meta-skills while improving attainment through alternative qualifications.

In 2018-19 we worked with 2,000 young people in school through our Achieve programme. Of these:

  • 7% were care leavers
  • 7% were young offenders
  • 29% had a disability
  • 24% had mental health needs

The national pass rate for our Prince’s Trust Personal Development and Employability Skills Qualification was 93%, with 91% of the young people we worked with moving onto positive destinations.


We pledge to continue to support and signpost all young people we work with to the correct support services if they are facing homelessness or issues with housing. In 2018-19 we worked with at least 500 young people who said they were homeless.

Social Security

We pledge to promote the new benefits available, namely Job Grant and Young Carers Grant, to the young people we work with, and ensure that our own CashBack Development Awards complement and don’t duplicate these benefits. We gave out over 1,200 Development Awards in 2018-19 which helped remove financial barriers for disadvantaged young people and helped secure 83% positive destinations.


We pledge to continue to develop Mosaic, our mentoring programme for BME young people who are growing up in the most deprived communities in Glasgow. In 2018-19 around 8% of all young people we worked with came from a BME or mixed ethnic background.

Health and Mental Health

We pledge to continue to support the needs of young people facing mental health challenges. This year we have upskilled and trained our frontline staff in Mental Health First Aid. We also pledge to continue our pilot counselling support service in our Glasgow office and to explore opportunities to roll this out to our Dundee and Edinburgh centres. Over 25% of all young people we worked with 2018-19 self-identify as having mental health support needs and 29% had a disability.


We pledge to continue to focus our support on early intervention initiatives and help divert young people away from risk-taking behaviours and criminal activity. We also pledge to stand by our ethos of ‘No Judgement’ and help those with convictions move on from offending and find employment opportunities. In 2018-19 we supported at least 500 young people with previous convictions.

Timewise and Family Friendly Working Scotland (part of Working Families) pledged to produce the first ever Flexible Jobs Index for Scotland and to encourage employers to adapt to flexible recruitment

The Index, produced by both Timewise and Family Friendly Working Scotland was completed in 2017.

Timewise has committed to producing an updated Flexible Jobs Index for Scotland in 2020. This will provide a new benchmark for Scotland of the ratio of quality jobs advertised as open to flexible or part-time working and indicate whether employers are applying flexible working to the hire process.

Family Friendly Working Scotland continues to encourage employers to adapt to flexible recruitment on an ongoing basis, supporting Scottish employers to use the ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’ strapline and logo and showcasing Scottish employers who are recruiting flexibly and reaping the benefits on its website.

Timewise has also been commissioned by the Scottish Government to undertake a feasibility study in 2019-20 to prototype a ‘Fair Flexible Work’ programme in Scotland. The initiative is looking to support and scale approaches to reducing child poverty and tackling the gender pay gap by unlocking fair flexible work and better support for parents to find and progress into quality flexible jobs.

 Working with a wide range of Scottish partners, the programme aims to:

  • Stimulate employer action to change recruitment practices and increase vacancies at all levels offering flexibility and part-time.
  • Enable more parents and carers to find quality flexible work in order to raise their living standards and progress their careers.

Virgin Money pledged to do its best to make banking fairer and more accessible for the people of Scotland by building a bank that aims to treat its customers fairly through helping with financial inclusion and tackling diversity.

Virgin Money is a committed member of Business in the Community (BITC) Scotland.  Through BITC’s leadership initiative, Virgin Money volunteers are helping to extend the excellent MCR Pathways mentoring scheme from Glasgow secondary schools to those in Edinburgh.

Virgin Money is a committed member of the Carnegie Trust Affordable Credit Action Group, seeking to bring new solutions to the problem of high cost credit.

Virgin Money’s Make £5 Grow programme provides nine to 11 year olds with the experience of starting a mini business using a £5 loan from the bank.  Across Scotland and the wider UK, this financial education programme has given over 1,700 primary schools and over 113,000 pupils the chance to develop valuable skills and insight into the world of work and money.

Working Families pledged to help the Scottish Government build a fairer Scotland by sharing their experience of working with and supporting SMEs to introduce flexible working.

Our work with SMEs will culminate in producing an SME diagnostic, which we plan to make freely available to SMEs on our website in 2020. As part of Working Families, Family Friendly Working Scotland will share and promote that resource to Scottish employers in due course. With an understanding of how they are doing around family-friendly and flexible working, SMEs can choose to continue to work with both organisations to make improvements to their family-friendly and flexible working policies and practice. In addition to this work:

  • Working Families and Family Friendly Working Scotland run a free legal advice service for parents and carers on a low income across the UK, including in Scotland. We offer a range of advice and support, including supporting them to make a flexible working request, all with a view to them staying in work.
  • Family Friendly Working Scotland works with employers to promote flexible and family friendly working through practical support and sharing best practice. It also raises awareness of the issues and benefits of flexible, family-friendly working. It does this through its annual employer awards and its programme of business to business knowledge share events. In January 2020 Family Friendly Working Scotland will hold Scotland’s first Flexible Working Festival.
  • In 2020 Working Families and Family Friendly Working Scotland will publish a bespoke report on the experience of parents in Scotland, as part of our Modern Families Index project. It will include a series of recommendations aimed at the UK Government and Scottish employers to help parents in Scotland get into and progress in work. It highlights the need to focus on sectors where flexible and family-friendly working is particularly under-developed.
  • Working Families and Family Friendly Working Scotland regularly lobby the UK Government with regards to exploitative zero hours contracts. Most recently, we responded to its consultation on one-sided flexibility.
  • Working Families and Family Friendly Working Scotland intend to respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation on wraparound care in December.

Young Scot pledged to use the Young Scot National Entitlement Card and its built in smart-technology to connect young people to services and opportunities.

The Young Scot Strategic Plan 2019-22 (#YSThree) has clear ambitions to support young people to make informed decisions and choices, connecting them to opportunities and empowering them to share and hold power in the design of services and policy. We aim to be part of the transformation of the Young Scot National Entitlement Card (YSNEC) programme to give young people personalised enhanced entitlements, opportunities, incentives and services in a non-stigmatising way. We have been continuing to use and develop the capabilities of the YSNEC and smart-tech to tackle inequalities; working with partners in the Scottish Government, Improvement Service, Transport Scotland and National Entitlement Card Programme Office (NECPO) to further develop the YSNEC smartcard technology.  

In partnership with the Improvement Service, we have launched the new Young Scot Membership platform, which now houses Rewards, Discounts and additional entitlement packages, including the Young Carers Package. To support and recognise the care role provided by young carers in Scotland Young Scot, in partnership with the Scottish Government, has developed an entitlement package for young carers. Young people aged 11-18 who are in school and who help to care for a family member, a friend or someone in their community can access a range of additional discounts and opportunities through their YSNEC and Young Scot Rewards and Membership platform. The offers have been designed by young carers themselves, with extra discounts available at certain stores and leisure venues as well as other opportunities, such as free cinema tickets and CV advice.

We are continuing to work to enable enhanced entitlements, smart transport, opportunities and services – all without stigma for the young person. In partnership with local authorities, Young Scot is currently delivering phase two of ‘The Attainment Challenge: National Strategic Partnership’ alongside Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Improvement Service and NECPO. This phase is built on the successful outcomes of phase one, where Young Scot worked with North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Highland Councils to provide local entitlements to young people who were facing significant barriers to their attainment using the YSNEC. These entitlements, which included local information, travel tickets, weekend and holiday food provision, access to leisure and extra-curricular activities, and help to reduce the cost of the school day, were specifically selected as they are known to improve health and wellbeing – drivers to improve attainment, reduce inequality and challenge rural poverty. The universal YSNEC and services were promoted locally, as well as the way in which the YSNEC could be used by young people facing significant barriers to access extra entitlements, which helped to create a non-stigmatising way of supporting the young people.

The collaborative partnership between Young Scot and Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and Highland have allowed us to test and demonstrate innovative approaches to using the YSNEC to improve health and wellbeing which impacts upon attainment. Young Scot is now working with North Lanarkshire, Falkirk and Dundee Councils in phase two of the partnership to build upon phase one learning and develop further solutions using the YSNEC and supporting Young Scot services.


As an employer, Young Scot has adopted the Living Wage for all of its employees and suppliers alongside a variety of policies to help people work flexibly, including ‘talking flexible working’, carer, maternity/paternity and pet policies. We are currently developing a policy on menopause to ensure that we are supporting staff to carry on working. We know that over 45s often have a care responsibility that may cause them to give up work and have developed a carer policy that supports staff to stay. We are currently developing a new recruitment process which will ensure recruitment processes that are free from bias and that match requirements for the job with the skill level needed to make applications.

YouthLink Scotland pledges to support the Scottish Government’s aims of ensuring ‘A Fairer Scotland for All’ and ‘A Strong Start for All Young People’. We will do this by continuing to support the significant contribution that youth work makes to young people’s health and wellbeing, attainment and to tackling inequality. 

We have initiated the development of a Health and Wellbeing Youth Work Network which will both represent the youth work sector and a bring a youth work perspective to national strategic partnerships (such as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Programme Board, Mental Health Collaborative and Healthy Weight and Diet) and policy development.

We have developed an attainment programme designed to support the youth work sector in their work alongside schools to close the poverty related attainment gap, and to promote increased recognition of the impact of youth work on outcomes for young people affected by poverty. We will provide support and guidance locally, nationally and through regional improvement collaboratives. This will strengthen collaboration between youth work and formal education in the planning, delivery and evaluation of interventions to close the poverty related attainment gap. In addition, we will develop national evaluation of youth work to strengthen understanding of how participation in learning through youth work is associated with improved attainment and social and emotional outcomes. This will contribute to an increased Scottish evidence base of what works to improve attainment and health and wellbeing. We will also work with the youth work sector to achieve increased recognition of the breadth and impact of youth work to school holiday learning loss and food insecurity.

As part of the Action on Prejudice programme we have developed a new publication to give young people the tools and options they need when faced with witnessing a hate incident. Speak Up provides five options of how a young person can be an active bystander. This was launched during hate crime awareness week and seeks to empower young people to be able to intervene safely in a difficult situation.

The Action on Sectarianism website has been updated to be easier and more straightforward to use. We have launched a new Instagram channel to engage more young people on the issue of sectarianism.

We continue to host and support the work of the Equality and Diversity in Youth Work Network and have doubled membership since the first pledge. The (revised) purpose of the network is to promote equality and diversity in the youth work sector by informing policy and supporting the implementation of inclusive youth work in order to encourage an inclusive and representative sector that is 100% accessible to all young people.  To achieve this the network will explore and share current best practice in equality and diversity in youth work and promote the importance of intersectional working.


Email: sjsu@gov.scot

Back to top