Significant inequalities remain in many areas of life for people from minority ethnic communities. We recognise that these inequalities are systemic and deep-rooted, and that reversing them will take time and effort, as well as a Scottish Government commitment that is maintained going into the future.
Understanding racism and taking a truly anti-racist position means acknowledging the existence of formal and informal structural, institutional and cultural processes that place minority ethnic and migrant groups at a disadvantage within Scotland in relation to the majority. These structural disadvantages are experienced by groups which are defined by their migrant status as well as those which are defined by their ethnicity.
Minority ethnic individuals and groups face poorer outcomes than average; including lower employment rates, a higher risk of poverty, under-representation in public life and with racism being a lived and daily experience for many people. It is simply unacceptable for people experience disadvantages due to structural racism or discrimination on the grounds of colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origin. The rights of minority ethnic people are enshrined in Scotland’s international commitments and our obligation to eliminate discrimination. All must be able to achieve equal outcomes in every area of social, economic, civic and political life.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly disproportionately affected minority ethnic communities and exposed long-standing racial inequalities. The Scottish Government’s immediate priorities lie in implementing the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity’s recommendations, so that minority ethnic communities have a fair and equal recovery from COVID-19 (Section 6 provides further detail).
The Scottish Government is determined to show leadership in advancing race equality, tackling racism and addressing barriers that prevent people from minority ethnic communities from realising their potential, as well as supporting them to realise their human rights.
The Race Equality Framework for Scotland (REF) 2016-30 sets out how the Scottish Government aims to progress this ambition over a 15-year period from 2016 to 2030. Further commitments were set out in section 6 of the final report of the Race Equality Action Plan (REAP) 2017-20 for a ‘bridging plan’ that set out:
- ongoing implementation of recommendations made by the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and ethnicity (ERG).
- continuation of priority areas of work already underway to address immediate issues of race equality in key policy areas, with specific targets/milestones to be achieved within this period; and
- develop a deeper understanding of how systemic racism creates racial inequality, to inform longer-term system change.
This Immediate Priorities Plan (IPP) meets this commitment for a plan that sets out the actions being taken by the Scottish Government. These actions cover the ongoing work to implement the data and systemic recommendations of the Expert Reference Group (ERG) for COVID-19 and Ethnicity, as agreed to by the Scottish Government in November 2020 (see Annex A). They also include continuing work on race equality across government. The objectives in full are included in Annex B.
The Scottish Government has also committed in the REAP final report to a programme of systemic change from 2023-26. This work has begun with the strategic review outlined in section 9.
The IPP covers the period until the establishment of the programme of systemic change in 2023. It will maintain delivery of the government’s commitment to race equality and provide a framework to regularly monitor and report upon.