British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 and See Hear Strategy - spending and information: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

You asked the following:
1. How much has been spent on supporting the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 each year for 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 -

  • In the Scottish Government?
  • In the Third Sector?
  • In the Public Sector?

2. How much has been spent on supporting the See Hear Strategy each year for 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 –

  • In the Scottish Government?
  • In the Third Sector?
  • In the Public Sector?

3. How much of the See Hear spend each year for 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 was spent on

  • People with a hearing loss?
  • People with a sight loss?

4. How many new jobs, if any, have been created from the money spent on the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015

  • In the Scottish Government?
  • In the Third Sector?
  • In the Public Sector?

5. What steps has the Scottish Government taken to ensure all 12,500 BSL users in Scotland have a say in how the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 is implemented?

6. What reporting mechanisms does the Scottish Government have in place to ensure all 12,500 BSL users in Scotland are kept informed of progress made on the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015?


I address each of your questions in turn, as follows.

1. Information on funding spent by the Equality Unit to support the implementation of the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 is available at and - the “Protected Characteristic” column will indicate BSL where funding has been provided to support the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015.

The Scottish Government has also funded the contactSCOTLAND-BSL service since 2014. This is a video relay service that enables Deaf and Deafblind British Sign Language (BSL) users to make video calls to a third party via a remote on-line BSL interpreter, who then makes a voice call on the BSL users’ behalf and facilitates a 3-way call.

This service has recently expanded to include calls to private numbers, in addition to statutory and third sector organisations, and to be made available 24/7, 365 days a year.

The funding SG has provided for this service over the last three years is as follows:
2016/17 - £254,200
2017/18 - £266,000
2018/19 - £282,215
Funding of £372,580 has been allocated for 2019/20.

Scottish Government may have spent other money in supporting the implementation of the BSL (Scotland) Act but this is included within budgets across Scottish Government and it is not possible to separate out what has been spent explicitly on BSL work.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold all of the information you have requested. We do not hold information on Third Sector and Public Sector spending on BSL. However, you may wish to contact individual Third Sector organisations and public bodies who may be able to help you.

2. Scottish Ministers have allocated almost £4 million of funding since 2014 to support the local implementation of the See Hear Strategy and help drive progress. This year (2019/20) a further £478,000 has been committed to invest in supporting the on-going development and delivery of the Strategy.

Financial Year See Hear Funding
2014/2015 £1 million
2015/2016 £1 million
2016/2017 £478,000
2017/2018 £478,000
2018/2019 £478,000
2019/2020 £478,000
'See Hear' Sensory Impairment Strategy Funding 2018-19
Please note the funding below has been rounded to the nearest £1000
Council areas Population 2016 MYE Population Share 2018-19 Funding
Aberdeen City 229,840 4.3% £14,000
Aberdeenshire 262,190 4.9% £15,000
Angus 116,520 2.2% £7,000
Argyll & Bute 87,130 1.6% £5,000
Clackmannanshire 51,350 1.0% £3,000
Dumfries & Galloway 149,520 2.8% £9,000
Dundee City 148,270 2.7% £9,000
East Ayrshire 122,200 2.3% £7,000
East Dunbartonshire 107,540 2.0% £6,000
East Lothian 104,090 1.9% £6,000
East Renfrewshire 93,810 1.7% £6,000
Edinburgh, City of 507,170 9.4% £30,000
Eilean Siar 26,900 0.5% £2,000
Falkirk 159,380 2.9% £9,000
Fife 370,330 6.9% £22,000
Glasgow City 615,070 11.4% £36,000
Highland 234,770 4.3% £14,000
Inverclyde 79,160 1.5% £5,000
Midlothian 88,610 1.6% £5,000
Moray 96,070 1.8% £6,000
North Ayrshire 135,890 2.5% £8,000
North Lanarkshire 339,390 6.3% £20,000
Orkney Islands 21,850 0.4% £1,000
Perth & Kinross 150,680 2.8% £9,000
Renfrewshire 175,930 3.3% £10,000
Scottish Borders 114,530 2.1% £7,000
Shetland Islands 23,200 0.4% £1,000
South Ayrshire 112,470 2.1% £7,000
South Lanarkshire 317,100 5.9% £19,000
Stirling 93,750 1.7% £6,000
West Dunbartonshire 89,860 1.7% £5,000
West Lothian 180,130 3.3% £11,000
Scotland 5,404,700 100.0% £320,000

In addition to the See Hear monies, the Scottish Government has provided support for the delivery of the recommendations in the See Hear strategy by using Section 10 funding for various projects or to provide core funding.

Financial Year Section 10 funding
2016/17 £140k
2017/18 £155,204
2018/19 £93k

3. Strategy recommendations and areas for action are delivered through local partnerships between statutory and third sector organisations who are responsible for identifying local priorities, developing work streams, timescales and implementation plans, based on local priorities and need. This ensures a responsive, flexible approach to deliver person centred outcomes, support and care:

  • See Hear Leads have been nominated to help drive progress across priority areas within the local partnerships insofar as local resources allow. It is recognised that local partnerships will adopt different approaches and that the level and pace of progress towards the achievement of outcomes will accord with local circumstances.
  • The Scottish Government does not intend to be prescriptive in setting out detailed implementation activity at local level, and we recognise that local Sensory Impairment Leads working together with partners, are best placed to decide how this money can be spent to support the Strategy and ensure that any activities fall cohesively within the Strategy’s priorities.
  • As the See Hear funding is provided as part of the General Revenue Grant paid to local authorities, information on the amounts spent on hearing loss or sight loss within the allocation is not held.

However a breakdown of the Section 10 funding described at 2. above is as follows:

Financial Year Hearing Loss Sight Loss Dual Sensory Loss Total
2016/17 £120,000   £20,000 £140,000
2017/18 £116,000 £39,204   £115,204
2018/19 £70,107   £23,250 £93,357

4. The Scottish Government has employed a dedicated BSL Policy Officer since 2017 and this is the only specific post that has been created within the Scottish Government to date in relation to the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested as we do not hold information on specific employment within Third Sector organisations and public bodies. However, you may wish to contact individual Third Sector organisations and public bodies who may be able to help you.

5. The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act requires the Scottish Ministers and listed public bodies to publish, and consult on, a draft of their British Sign Language plan, and to take into account any representations received by them by virtue of such consultation. The Act further states that the persons consulted are to be those who are likely to be directly affected by the Plan or otherwise to have an interest in that plan and in particular are to include persons who use British Sign Language, and persons who represent users of British Sign Language.

Furthermore, in determining the form and manner of consultation there is to be regard to the need to make that consultation accessible to persons who use British Sign Language and who are deaf, or deafblind.

The Scottish Government established a National Advisory Group on BSL to shape priorities and support the creation of the first, and current, BSL National Plan. Over half of this Advisory Group consisted of BSL users. Further, wider consultation then took place on the draft National Plan that was created through this group.

A range of consultations have taken place to date in various forms on the various BSL Plans across Scotland, and we anticipate this activity to continue throughout the lifetime of the Act, particularly in influencing new/revised BSL Plans. Consulation methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Public meetings and events
  • Online – consultation hubs and Facebook pages/groups for example (the main BSL Act facebook page can be found at: and further information, including the BSL Plans themselves, can be found at
  • One to one work
  • Utilising existing groups and forums

Anyone who is concerned with a public body’s BSL Plan should make contact with the public body via their Comments/Complaints procedures. We encourage BSL users and public bodies to work collaboratively on their plans so everyone involved understands the local processes and expectations of each other. A public body may revise its most recently published BSL Authority Plan at any time. Representations can also be made to MSPs at a national level.

6. The Scottish Ministers are required to publish a progress report. The first is due by October 2020. This report will set out areas of progress and also highlight areas of poor performance.

Where a public body has previously published an Authority Plan, the plan is to state how, when and to what extent measures set out by the local authority were taken. If there are failures by the local authority to take the measures set out in the current plan, it should be reflected in the next Authority Plan.

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