11. Equality impacts of the Bond (Q10)
11.1 Respondents were asked about the possible impact of the Islands Bond scheme on people with protected characteristics (as defined by the Equality Act 2010).  This was a closed question in which respondents were given five choices – ranging from 'very positive' to 'very negative' – and asked to select one. The closed question was followed by a space for comments. This chapter presents the findings and an analysis of the comments made.
Question 10: If you are an individual with lived experience of, or an organisation with experience of, challenge related to protected characteristics, how positive do you think the impact of the Islands Bond may be?
[Very Positive / Positive / Neither Positive nor Negative / Negative / Very Negative]
11.2 Note that this question was specifically directed towards individuals with lived experience of challenges relating to their own protected characteristics, and to organisations working with these groups. However, relatively few respondents identified themselves in this way, and since it was not possible to otherwise determine whether respondents had particular protected characteristics, this analysis is based on all the responses received – both from island respondents and non-island respondents, and from individuals and organisations.
11.3 Table 11.1 below shows that, overall, 64% of respondents thought the Islands Bond would have a positive impact on people with protected characteristics, including 41% who thought it would have a very positive impact. However, the views of island respondents and non-island respondents were different. Non-islanders had a substantially more positive view of the impacts than islanders. Indeed, 81% of non-islanders said the scheme would have a positive impact, compared to 40% of islanders. And similarly, just 3% of non-islanders thought the scheme would have a negative impact – compared to 19% of islanders.
|Residence status||Island respondents (includes orgs)||Non-island respondents (includes orgs)||Total|
|Neither Positive nor Negative||230||42%||111||16%||341||27%|
Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.
11.4 Comments at this question indicated confusion – particularly among individuals (less so among organisations) – about what this question was asking. Many individual respondents discussed instead what they saw as the likely general impacts of an Islands Bond scheme, rather than the impacts on people with protected characteristics per se. These views have been covered in Chapter 5. The discussion below focuses on views expressed about the possible impacts of the Islands Bond on people with protected characteristics. However, the confusion in relation to this question suggests that the figures in the table above should be treated with caution.
11.5 The following sub-sections set out respondents' views about the likely impacts on individuals with specific protected characteristics who may be awarded a bond. Note that some respondents considered not only the direct impacts of the bonds on people with protected characteristics, but also the indirect impacts on those individuals – for example, resulting from the constraints of island life. Other, more general comments, about the potential impact of the Islands Bond on the equality and diversity of island communities are discussed at the end of this chapter.
11.6 The most common view expressed in the comments was that any scheme focused on young people and families (as indicated in the consultation paper) would inevitably discriminate against older people. This view was held by respondents of all types, irrespective of whether they had indicated (at the closed question) that the scheme would have a positive, negative, or neither positive nor negative impact on people with protected characteristics. Respondents who saw mainly positive impacts often stated that the scheme would have 'different impacts on individuals according to their age' – rather than saying that it would discriminate against specific age groups.
11.7 Some respondents identified themselves as young people, part of a young couple, or young adults with young children. These (and other) respondents suggested that the scheme would have a positive impact in that it would help young islanders to return home or to remain on the islands without having to leave to find employment. Other positive impacts on younger people were seen to be (i) helping them get onto the property ladder, (ii) giving them greater financial security, and (iii) providing more employment opportunities.
11.8 Some respondents suggested that a scheme focused on young people (and young families) was likely to fail for these individuals because of the lack of well-paid job opportunities on the islands.
11.9 In relation to disability, a few respondents identified themselves as people with disabilities or additional support needs, or as the parents of a child with a disability or additional support needs. Those who saw positive impacts for disabled people suggested that the Bond scheme would help individuals and families to modify existing homes to make them more accessible. Some thought that the scheme would lead to better accommodation options and other facilities for disabled people, enabling more people to live independently and contribute to island communities. Occasionally, respondents suggested that the scheme would offer individuals with specific disabilities (e.g. mental health disabilities) access to an environment which was especially conducive to wellbeing.
11.10 Some respondents said the Islands Bond scheme had the potential for indirect negative impacts for disabled people who may be awarded a bond. This group suggested that the lack of services and poor accessibility of facilities (for example, of ferries and public buildings) in island locations would be very challenging for people with physical disabilities living in many island communities. Some respondents who identified themselves as disabled also commented that there was currently little assistance or support in island communities for disabled people, and 'a lot of prejudice'.
Sex, sexual orientation, transgender status
11.11 In relation to sex and sexual orientation, respondents identified both potentially positive impacts, and potentially indirect negative impacts. Some suggested that islanders are not always eager to support people who are gay or bisexual, or single women not born in an island farming community. These respondents thought the award of a bond to a person (or persons) with these protected characteristics would give greater financial security and independence to these groups, and the freedom to achieve their aims in life.
11.12 Among those who thought that the scheme would lead to negative impacts for these groups, there was a suggestion that homosexual, bi-sexual and trans people may face discrimination or hostility within some island communities where prevailing religious beliefs do not accept certain lifestyles or different understandings of gender and sexuality.
Religion and belief
11.13 In relation to religion and belief, some suggested that the scheme could have indirect negative impacts on people of different faiths. For example, these respondents pointed to the lack of choice in local island food shops and the lack of diversity in places of worship, which may make it difficult for individuals of non-Christian (non-Protestant) faiths to settle in the islands if they are awarded a bond. There was also a perception (from some current island residents with experience in this area) that people who have vegetarian / vegan diets based on ethical principles can face hostility from island farmers for their lifestyle choices and views.
Pregnancy and maternity
11.14 In relation to pregnancy and maternity, there was a suggestion that bond payments would have a positive impact by bringing young families to the islands. This would, in turn, result in a larger social network for other mothers with small children in island communities – thus reducing isolation among this group.
11.15 However, respondents who identified negative impacts pointed to the current poor availability of pre-natal and maternity care in island communities which meant that pregnant women often travel great distances at their own cost to access services. This group suggested that the lack of maternity services would be a concern for many individuals relocating to the islands to start (or expand) a family.
11.16 In relation to race, few respondents identified either positive or negative impacts of the Bond scheme. Those who saw potential positive impacts expressed the general view that many island communities are welcoming to outsiders. However, it was more common for respondents to discuss a (perceived) racial prejudice on some islands, which they believed would make it difficult for people of different races to integrate into these communities.
11.17 Finally, although socio-economic deprivation is not defined as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, some respondents nevertheless discussed the potential positive impacts of the scheme on people from lower income backgrounds, suggesting that a bond award would give disadvantaged people from different walks of life a fresh start and access to a unique island lifestyle.
Other general points
11.18 Respondents often discussed, queried and / or expressed concerns about the idea that eligibility for a Bond award might depend on a person's protected characteristics. Wider views about who should be eligible for an award have been discussed in Chapters 6 and 7.
11.19 Some respondents discussed the possible impacts of the Bond on the local communities where individual bond-holders with protected characteristics may take up residence. For example, some made general statements about the impacts of the Islands Bond scheme on the diversity of island communities. Among those who thought that the scheme would have a positive (or very positive) impact on people with protected characteristics, some made the point that the scheme would help to improve diversity in communities which were perceived as having relatively homogenous, older populations. This group thought that increasing diversity in island communities would, in turn, result in these communities becoming more outward looking, open-minded, creative and, ultimately, happier.
Impacts of the scheme on people with protected characteristics already living in the islands
11.20 Some respondents highlighted potentially negative impacts on people with protected characteristics currently living in island communities. This group suggested that island communities that adhere to a strict interpretation of Christian teachings often perceive intolerance and hostility among incomers towards the community's beliefs and values.
11.21 There was also a suggestion that there could be potential negative impacts if, for example, Gaelic culture were defined in terms of race. Respondents who raised this issue suggested that, if the scheme gives preference to non-Gaelic speakers not currently living in island communities, then the impact on existing Gaelic communities was likely to be negative. It was suggested that specific measures should be built into the scheme to prevent this – for example, making it a condition that bond recipients learn Gaelic.
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