3. Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA)
3.1 The consultation contains questions to gather information about possible impacts of the proposals. We will review responses alongside data identified to assess equality implications.
Policy objectives and background
3.2 The objectives and background are set out in chapter 1.
Public Sector Equality Duty
3.3 In assessing how the policy objectives might impact on people with protected characteristics, public bodies need to consider whether they will:
- advance equality of opportunity
- discriminate unlawfully
- foster good community relations
Who will be affected?
3.4 Equality legislation covers the protected characteristics of: age, disability, gender reassignment, gender including pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation. While the policy objectives relate to anyone paying council tax or non-domestic rates, the proposal is to provide councils with discretionary powers. How these powers might be used would be decided locally and it would be for councils to assess the impact on their local population and economy.
3.5 The impact on wider socio-economic considerations; including people living in low income households and people living in remote rural areas and island communities are assessed under the Fairer Scotland Duty and the Island Communities Impact Assessments.
3.6 We know second home owners are on average wealthier than households that do not own a second home or those without any property. However, in Scotland we have limited data available on the characteristics and circumstances of second home owners. In England, more data is available from the English Household Survey. This indicates that second home owners tend to be older; in 2018-19, 80% of those with a second home were aged 45 or over.
3.7 The beneficiaries of the consultation proposals would be local communities where there are housing needs. Children and young people living in these areas, or moving to these areas, may therefore benefit from improved access to, and choice of, residential housing. There were 28,882 households assessed as homeless during 2021/22. The ethnic composition of this group differs slightly with that for the Scottish population as a whole. The proportion of people reporting their ethnicity as white when assessed as homeless is around 85% compared with 95% within the general population Scotland based on Scottish Household Survey Data from 2019 – in other words people with ethnicities other than white are over-represented in households assessed as homeless during this period.
3.8 In general, people with significant housing needs are more likely to be on lower incomes. However, given that there is significant variation in the concentration of second and empty homes across Scotland, the protected and other characteristics of communities who might benefit from the proposed policies are likely to vary from one area to another. Giving councils discretion will allow them to consider whether there any relevant equality characteristics in the particular area where the policies will be applied.
3.9 We do not consider that there are any equalities issues affecting people with protected characteristics arising from these proposals at this point, but will continue to review this after the consultation when we have analysed responses.
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