“Research evidence published in How Fair is Scotland and confirmed by Scottish Government’s analysis of the 2011 Census shows that on every indicator of what is required to live a happy, productive and fulfilled life, Gypsy/Travellers are worse off than any other community in Scotland. The high levels of poverty experienced by Gypsy/Travellers is linked to poor health and the lack of employment and integral to all these issues is the provision of sites across the country. The Scottish Human Rights Commission in its evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee in 2013 described the discrimination towards Gypsy/Travellers as ‘the last bastion of respectable racism’.
“Despite parliamentary enquiries and reviews of progress, various reports, strategies and initiatives, little has changed for Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland. They face much the same problems that have troubled them for decades. In their Gypsy/Travellers and Care Report, the 2012 Equal Opportunities Committee concluded that the evidence pointed to ‘repeated failures: recommendations that have not been implemented and initiatives too small scale or short term’. A point repeated in the 2013 Equal Opportunities Committee Report Where Gypsy/Travellers Live which calls for strong leadership at all levels and the need for a powerful Ministerial Voice.”
Report from the Scottish Government’s Independent Race Equality Adviser: Addressing Race Equality in Scotland: The Way Forward (2017).
This is the context for the creation of the Ministerial Working Group on Gypsy/Travellers, which was set up to develop innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and to do so at an accelerated rate. The group was made up of Ministers with responsibility for the key areas of accommodation (housing and planning), education, health, and employment, working alongside COSLA. Our joint work over the last 18 months, and this action plan, responds to the challenge of the Independent Race Equality Adviser set out in her 2017 report.
Making Scotland fairer for our Gypsy/Traveller communities is a long-term aim, and it will take time to unpick the significant, entrenched and long-standing inequalities they face.
This plan sets out agreed actions we will take forward across local and national government in Scotland to make meaningful progress. They are driven by our shared commitment to work together to tackle the disadvantage and discrimination which impacts on the lives of Gypsy/Travellers, ensuring that their communities have their voices heard and needs met on an equal basis as other citizens.
We want to create a Scotland where Gypsy/Travellers:
- have safe and culturally appropriate places to live and travel
- understand their rights and have positive experiences of accessing services
- have support to maximise incomes, increase employment opportunities, and improve the standard of living
- feel safe, respected and valued members of Scotland’s diverse population
- have a seat at the table, are listened to, and have a say in decisions that affect their lives.
The plan is closely linked to our wider shared priorities in the National Performance Framework and our ambitions to create a fairer Scotland. This means tackling poverty and inequality and, in particular, to bringing an end to child poverty. It also means ensuring that everyone has a safe and secure place to live, and ending homelessness. Above all, this plan is about protecting and promoting human rights, delivering equality and creating strong and cohesive communities.