Fairer Scotland action plan: progress report 2019

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

Social policy

Tackling poverty and inequality while working to ensure a fairer Scotland is an issue that cuts across every Scottish Government portfolio.  People and communities, particularly those which experience disadvantage and inequality, face complex and often inter-related challenges.  It is therefore the responsibility of all Ministers and civil servants alike to recognise the interaction between poverty and their policies, and to work collaboratively both across government and with external organisations to address these issues.

Our first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, covering 2018-22, sets out the action we will take to make progress towards meeting these ambitious targets, backed by a £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund.  This approach recognises the three main drivers of child poverty reduction – increasing income for work and earnings, reducing household costs, and maximising income from social security – and the action needed across government to address these.  Importantly we also recognise the need to mitigate the impacts of poverty for children living on low incomes now and ensure they are supported to reach their full potential.

We are taking action to tackle socio-economic inequality and are supporting people with lived experience of poverty to have their voices heard so that they can influence future policy development by pushing for change to public services and tackling the stigma attached to being impoverished.

We will continue to support activity that seeks to end food insecurity in Scotland, fulfilling our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 2 on zero hunger, as an integrated part of our National Performance Framework and Good Food Nation vision.

Fairer Scotland Duty

FSAP  1. In 2017, we will introduce a new socio-economic duty on public bodies
StC 15. Commence the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010, when powers are available to do so

Over the last year, the Scottish Government has published a number of Fairer Scotland Duty assessments which show how strategic decisions have been shaped to reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage.  This includes assessments on the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill and Draft Strategy, the Scottish National Investment Bank, and the Children (Scotland) and Disclosure (Scotland) Bills.  In 2019-20 we are also funding a Fairer Scotland Duty National Co-ordinator post at the Improvement Service to help raise public bodies’ awareness of the duty and support its implementation.

Tackling poverty

FSAP 2. We will provide £100,000 new funding so that, across Scotland, people with experience of living in poverty can speak out, tackle stigma and push for change to public services
FSAP 3. Building on the work of local Fairness and Poverty Commissions, we will establish a national Poverty and Inequality Commission in 2017/18
FSAP 7. We will do more to help people to have a say in their local areas
FSAP 26. In early 2017, we will introduce a new Child Poverty Bill

We have set in statute our ambition to eradicate child poverty through the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017.  The Act sets four ambitious income based targets to be met by 2030, alongside interim targets, and places robust planning and reporting requirements on the Scottish Government, local authorities and Health Boards.  The Scottish Government is required by the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 to publish annual reports setting out the progress made against the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.  Our first progress report, published earlier this year, outlines that 48 of the 58 actions committed are already in progress or have been delivered. 

The work of Poverty Truth Commissions builds on this by enabling people with direct experience of poverty to speak out in order to influence policy decisions.  We have provided funding of £60,000 until 31 March 2020 to the Edinburgh Poverty Truth Commission for this work, which is further supported by a community based action research project.  Scottish Government resource of £185,000 in 2019-20 funds the Poverty Alliance’s Get Heard Scotland programme, which is designed to engage with members of communities affected by poverty to develop and implement policies to address this.

The first Poverty and Inequality Commission (the Commission) moved to a statutory footing on 1 July 2019 in accordance with the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017.  The new Commission has appointed two members with direct experience of poverty, ensuring that the views of people with this perspective are reflected in the work of the Commission and to help influence policy and decision making.  The Commission recently published advice on the first series of Local Child Poverty Action Reports[39] and will shortly publish its work plan for the coming year which includes continued scrutiny of progress against the child poverty targets set.

Fairer Scotland

FSAP 5. Tackle the poverty premium
FSAP 20. Over the term of this parliament, we will work to make Scotland a Good Food Nation by enabling more people to have access to affordable, healthy, nutritious food, in a dignified way
FSAP 48. Help older people claim the financial support they are entitled to
Life Chances 1. Develop new advice provision for young people, supported by a skilled, trained workforce

In November 2018 we launched the Money Talk Team service (previously known as the Financial Health Check) for low income families and older people, backed by funding of £3.3 million over 2018 to 2020.  This service ensures that people are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to and are not paying more than they need to for basic goods and services.  In the first year of delivery the service supported 11,899 clients across Scotland, 5,242 of whom had gained financially, the total value of which was over £10 million.

The Scottish Government is working with the Local Government Improvement Service on a feasibility project for an online portal, providing a comprehensive search facility for all advice provision in Scotland, covering face to face, telephone and online help.  We are currently exploring two options that would provide a platform for young people, and expect to be able to move forward with our preferred option later in 2020.

Our Fair Food Fund has been increased to £3.5 million in 2019-20 and is supporting dignified responses to food insecurity which help to tackle the causes of poverty.  £2 million of this fund supports organisations that provide healthy meals and activities during the school holidays, including innovative partnership work between local authorities and third sector organisations.  In September 2019 the Scottish Government committed to invest up to £1 million in FareShare and the wider network of organisations responding to food insecurity as part of Brexit mitigation plans.  This builds on the investment of £500,000 in FareShare made in January 2019 to mitigate increasing demand and improve community resilience.

In support of our ambition to be a Good Food Nation, we recently published a progress report[40] on the way in which our actions across Government are contributing to making Scotland a place where everyone takes pride and pleasure in and benefits from the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day.  We plan to publish a Good Food Nation Bill as part of the legislative programme set out in the Programme for Government 2019-20.  The Bill will provide a statutory framework to support our Good Food Nation aims which include a commitment to ensuring that everyone in Scotland has ready access to the healthy food they need.


FSAP 4. We will launch a new £29 million programme, including £12.5 million from the European Social Fund, to tackle poverty in Scotland

In 2019-20 additional investment secured from the European Social Fund increased the total value of the Aspiring Communities Fund to £35 million from £29 million.  As a result, the number of Aspiring Communities Fund projects across Scotland increased to 200 in 2019-20, providing more support for communities to work with partners to design and deliver community-led initiatives that tackle poverty, inequality and exclusion.  

The £11.5 million Investing in Communities Fund, which replaces five previous community funds[41], supports communities to build capacity and develop solutions to tackle poverty in all its forms on their own terms.  250 community groups were supported in the first three year funding round announced on 1 November 2019 to design, develop and deliver a range of projects and services that will address local issues.  Examples of the areas in which these funds operate include childcare provision, community food initiatives, advice and support services, health and wellbeing activities, and fuel poverty projects.

In March this year, the Scottish Government adopted the Place Principle which advocates that for a place to succeed, the planning and delivery of services and the way in which land and buildings are used need to be informed by local people.  The Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Communities wrote to public bodies and agencies in August 2019 to encourage them to adopt and embed the Place Principle in the way they do business.  In early 2020, together with our partners, we will launch a Place website which will provide access to supportive materials and innovative examples of the way in which the Place Principle is shaping investment and decision making.


Email: sjsu@gov.scot

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