Fairer Scotland Action Plan

Fifty actions to help tackle poverty, reduce inequality and build a fairer and more inclusive Scotland.

Annex B

Summary Of Progress Against Independent Advisor Recommendations

The Scottish Government said earlier this year that the Fairer Scotland Action Plan would form part of our response to 'Shifting the Curve', the report by Naomi Eisenstadt, the Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality. The full set of 15 recommendations is set out here, with progress to date on meeting them. Many responses to these recommendations form part of the Plan.

Recommendation Action Taken/ Proposed
1. Build on Living Wage Accreditation - a focus on larger employers, and on incentives, would be useful We will do more to promote the Living Wage. Decent wages for all are vital if we are to tackle in-work poverty. To move forward, we have set a new target of 1,000 accredited Living Wage employers by Autumn 2017. We have increased funding for the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative to £300,000 to achieve this. We are also now targeting larger employers to maximise the value of our investment.
2. Encourage pay ratio disclosure as a way of tackling pay inequality

We are already taking action to encourage pay ratio disclosure as one way of tackling pay inequality. There are enhanced fair pay reporting requirements for annual accounts (via the UK-wide Financial Reporting Manual) and an expectation that public bodies will comply with these for their 2015/16 annual accounts. Public authorities with more than 20 employees now publish their gender pay gap every two years and provide equal pay statements every four.

We will extend this legal duty to include disability and race pay gap reporting - from April 2017. We are now exploring how to require further disclosures relating to gender. The Fair Work Framework advocated pay transparency and defensibility as a core organisational objective, working with the Fair Work Convention to look at broad issues around pay, including real wages, pay ratios, and gain-sharing approaches.

3. Ensure childcare commitments focus on quality to improve outcomes, and consider providing a limited number of free hours of childcare for primary school aged children

We will shortly publish a policy blueprint setting out our vision and principles for the delivery of our early learning and childcare commitment by 2020.

We have committed to ensuring all nurseries in our most deprived areas will benefit from an additional qualified teacher or childcare graduate by 2018.

We will commence a programme of early learning and childcare trials from January 2017, supported by £1 million of Scottish Government investment, to test different delivery models for delivering the expansion to 1140 hours.

By summer 2017, we will publish good practice design guidance for the building work required for the early learning and childcare expansion.

In autumn 2017, we will publish a new induction and professional learning framework for child-minders to deliver best practice in the profession.

4. Make family flexible working more explicit within the Business Pledge, and consider whether approaches such as the Timewise programme could promote flexible working in Scotland

In May 2016, information on family friendly and flexible working (and in particular the Family Friendly Working Scotland partnership) was added to the 'Workforce Engagement' and 'Balanced Workforce' sections of the Business Pledge.

A 'Scottish Business Pledge: One Year On' event was held on 2 June 2016, hosted by the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy. It featured a company which made a commitment to the Business Pledge in June 2015 and won the Small Employer Category of the Scottish Top Employers for Working Families Awards 2016.

A joint Scottish Business Pledge/Family Friendly Working Scotland event is planned for National Work Life Week in October 2016.

5. Do more to ensure that people claim the benefits they are entitled to We will work with a range of partners to undertake targeted benefit uptake work to help people claim the benefits they are entitled to. If people claimed all the benefits they were entitled to, they would be better off and poverty rates would be lower. We will therefore work with a range of advice and support services and other stakeholders to better understand the barriers that prevent people from claiming benefits and to address these by raising awareness and better supporting people to take up their full benefit entitlement.
6. Make effective use of new social security powers but proceed with caution

The Scottish Government has already set out a range of steps, policy and delivery, that will put dignity and respect back at the heart of our social security system. E.g. increasing Carer's Allowance to Job Seeker's Allowance level, abolishing 84 day rule and introducing a new Best Start Grant to replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

We have also said we will establish a new social security agency to deliver our new devolved benefits.

In July 2016, we published a consultation on a Social Security Bill, which will be the foundation for how we use our new powers.

7. Build more social housing We will deliver more affordable homes in this parliament. During the last parliament, we surpassed our 30,000 target, delivering 33,490 affordable homes, of which 22,523 were for social rent. We have now committed investment of over £3 billion over the next five years to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes, of which 35,000 will be for social rent. Housing for social rent already has to meet our accessibility standards, but funding is also available for specialist housing - for example, helping disabled people with more complex needs live independently in their own homes.
8. Ensure fuel poverty programmes are focused to support those on low incomes, and do more to tackle the poverty premium in home energy costs We are investing to tackle fuel poverty and increase energy efficiency. The Scottish Government has allocated over half a billion pounds in this area since 2009 and this year more than £113 million has been made available. This money will help install energy efficiency measures in thousands of homes across Scotland, and build on the more than one million measures already delivered to almost one million Scottish households since 2008. This record investment is reflected in the big improvements in the energy efficiency of Scotland's housing. Two out of five homes are now in the top three ratings for energy efficiency, an increase of 71% since 2010 and 11% in the last year alone. The Scottish Government remains committed to continuing its efforts in this area and previously established the Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force and the Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group to provide recommendations on, respectively, tackling fuel poverty in remote and off gas grid households, and a new strategy for tackling fuel poverty. Both groups are due to report later this year.
9. Be bold on local tax reform From April 2017, council tax will be fairer. From then, the rates paid by those in the four highest council tax bands (E, F, G and H) will be adjusted, with the average band E household paying around £2 per week more and the average household in the highest band around £10 a week more. The 75 per cent of Scottish households that live in bands A to D will be unaffected by this change to the council tax band system and up to 54,000 households living in bands E to H on low incomes - more than one third of which are pensioner households - will be entitled to an exemption from the changes through the council tax reduction scheme. The reforms will also provide additional support to families on low incomes across all council tax bands by extending the relief available to households with children. This will benefit up to 77,000 low income families by an average of £173 per year, supporting up to 140,000 children. The additional £100 million revenue generated each year from these changes will be invested in schools to support closing the educational attainment gap.
10. Carry out a comprehensive review of the policies and services relevant to the life chances of older children and young adults, with particular emphasis on young people from poorer backgrounds Founded on the views of children and young people, and engaging with senior policy makers, a young people's symposium was held in April 2016 and formulated a number of recommendations aimed at securing better outcomes for young people; these are being considered by Ministers and officials. The symposium is feeding into a review of evidence, which is now being undertaken in-house to meet this recommendation.
11. Reduce the number of government-supported employment programmes targeting this group of young people [aged 16-24] and simplify the landscape, to provide a clearer, sharper focus We will look to streamline young people's employment programmes. The Independent Advisor recommended that government-supported employment programmes for young people should be streamlined to provide a clearer, sharper focus. Since then, we have narrowed the eligibility criteria of two programmes so that they have become more focused on helping those who face the greatest barriers to employment and extended the duration of the support available in line with Developing The Young Workforce's recommendations: Community Jobs Scotland and Scotland's Employer Recruitment Incentive. This more focused approach on helping those furthest from the labour market goes some way towards meeting this recommendation, but we recognise there is more still to do on simplifying the landscape and will consider how we progress this in the next Spending Review.
12. Ensure that the new approach to employer engagement in education is having an impact on improving skills for work of young people

Employer-led Developing Young Workforce ( DYW) Regional Groups have been established in Glasgow; North East; Fife; Ayrshire; North Highland; the West Region; Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian; Dumfries and Galloway; Dundee and Angus; West Lothian; Inverness and Central Highland; West Highland; Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire; Forth Valley; and Moray, with the remaining due to be established by the end of March 2017. The Regional Groups will encourage and support employers to engage directly with schools and colleges; and challenge and support employers to recruit more young people into their workforce; and will deliver a fundamental change in the relationship between employers and education which will open up opportunities for employers to supplement the careers information offered to young people and support the delivery and design of the curriculum. This will support teachers to widen and enhance the options available to young people in education and remove some of the barriers to employing young people. The creation and development of the Groups will ensure that all of Scotland's young people are supported into employment and that they have access to the information that they need to make informed choices.

Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) is working with partners to deliver Foundation Apprenticeship ( FA) pathfinders, increasing the number on offer for academic year 16-17. We are also working to develop the Graduate Level Apprenticeships. These apprenticeships will support the in- work development of graduates with initial activity focused on Engineering, Civil Engineering and Digital sectors.

13. Do more to tackle occupational segregation

The Fairer Scotland Action Plan sets out relevant commitments. For example, we are committed to establishing an advisory council for women and girls. We are also developing a women returners project which we expect will encourage women to re-enter STEM type careers and close the gap in the science sector.

The Modern Apprenticeship Equalities Plan was published in December 2015 and is starting to deliver improvements.

14. Ensure that public service delivery is respectful, person-centred and preserves the dignity of people in poverty: pre-employment and in-service training should include the importance of avoiding stigma and developing understanding of the challenges of living on a very low income We announced principles which will underpin the use of new social security powers. These are based on dignity and respect and a shared understanding that social security is for everyone.
15. Commence the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010, when powers are available to do so We will introduce a new socio-economic duty on public authorities in 2017. This will help ensure that organisations in the public sector take account of socio-economic disadvantage when they're making strategic decisions. We will monitor how the duty operates in practice and, if it is not delivering, we will introduce further legislation in future years to strengthen it. We will ensure, via this duty, that the public sector is all working towards the same goal.


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