Improving the lives of Gypsy/Travellers: 2019-2021

Joint action plan by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

Our Work So Far

Over the last 18 months Scottish Government and COSLA have worked closely together and with partners across the public and third sectors, and with Gypsy/Traveller Communities to develop this action plan. During this time, we have also:

  • Secured political support across all parties to work together to improve the lives of Scotland’s Gypsy/Travellers.
  • Formally recognised the right to travel, and committed to finding ways to map and, where possible, reopen traditional stopping places.
  • Announced a shared commitment (with Police Scotland) to work together to challenge discrimination and promote equality for Gypsy/Travellers.[2]
  • Celebrated Gypsy/Roma/Traveller History Month in Scotland.
  • Highlighted and commemorated the experience of Gypsy/Travellers in the Holocaust, and showing Scotland’s support for Dikh he na bister (“look and don’t forget” annual Roma Genocide Memorial event at Auschwitz).

Since December 2017, the Scottish Government has also:

  • Increased funding to support direct work with Gypsy/Travellers, including £100,000 to set up a new “Gypsy/Traveller Women’s Voices” Project and continued to support to enable young Gypsy/Travellers to speak out.
  • Invested an additional £275,000 (2018-2020) to improve the delivery of education to Gypsy/Traveller Children and Young People.
  • Committed to providing a further £500,000 (2020-2022) to support flexible family learning in Gypsy/Traveller communities, through the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.
  • Provided over £400,000 (2019-2021) for three new projects to test innovative ways of offering health and social care services, by supporting an “asset based approach” and co-production to empower members of Gypsy/Traveller communities to deliver them.
  • Committed to making an additional capital investment up to £2m between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 in public sector Gypsy/Traveller sites, designed to improve quality of life.

As well as this, the Scottish Government has also published a range of reports and guidance aimed at improving outcomes for Gypsy/Travellers, including:

  • Guidance on improving educational outcomes for children and young people from travelling cultures.
  • Review on compliance with minimum standards for public sector Gypsy/Traveller sites.
  • Ten-point action plan setting out what we will do to make the planning system work better for Gypsy/Travellers.
  • Revised Housing Needs and Demands Assessment guidance requiring proper engagement with Gypsy/Travellers as part of the process.
  • Refreshed guidance on the preparation of Strategic Housing Investment Plans.
  • Updated Local Housing Strategy guidance that reaffirms the need for local authorities to have a full understanding of Gypsy/Travellers in their area.
  • Embedded stronger engagement with Gypsy/Travellers in local development planning as a statutory requirement in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.
  • Published the Access to Healthcare cards, which will be distributed widely and provides information to ensure good communication between patients and GP Practice reception staff from the outset, leading to a more positive experience for everyone involved.
  • Updated GP Practice registration guidance, to clarify that patients do not need proof of address or photographic ID to register with a practice.

And during this time, local government has:

  • Put plans in place to meet the minimum standards on public sector sites that have not yet done so.
  • From our core capital funding, committed to invest in upgrading and refurbishing a number of existing public sites. This includes significant projects in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Fife. While in South Ayrshire, the local authority has built new permanent accommodation for Gypsy/Traveller residents using money from the Affordable Housing Supply programme.
  • From our core revenue funding, protected and invested in engagement work with Gypsy/Traveller communities, including maintaining Gypsy/Traveller Liaison Officers in areas such as Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, North Ayrshire and Dundee, and introducing new dedicated posts and a stronger focus on engagement in areas such as East Ayrshire and the Scottish Borders.
  • Undertaken a “fact-finding” visit to learn more about the “negotiated stopping” approach to managing roadside encampments and supported 16 local authorities to hear more about the model at national workshops.
  • Developed proposals for a national negotiated stopping pilot; whilst councils have continued to take local action to better support people staying on roadside camps, this includes work in West Dunbartonshire, Moray and Highland to better understand what the community needs, and new policies introduced across East Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross to support the right to travel.
  • Local authorities continue to work with our colleagues in police, NHS and wider Community Planning Partners to deliver joined-up services and have fostered regional collaborations to support Gypsy/Travellers, including through the work of Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray councils’ Gypsy/Traveller inter-agency group and local groups in areas such as Dumfries and Galloway. Perth and Kinross have further developed a dedicated strategy at local level.
  • Provided flexible learning opportunities for Gypsy/Traveller children in areas such as South Lanarkshire, where their Gypsy/Traveller Education Group has expanded the community-based education services in place to support secondary-age children and in Moray, where mobile educational opportunities have been delivered to Gypsy/Traveller young people living roadside.
  • Local authorities have also provided or participated in, anti-racism and cultural awareness and training and sessions in a number of local areas including with “Show Racism the Red Card” and through the charity MECOPP, including an engagement and awareness-raising event in Falkirk.



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