If not now, when? - Social Renewal Advisory Board report: January 2021

The Social Renewal Advisory Board was set up by Scottish Ministers to make proposals that can renew Scotland once we start to emerge from the pandemic. The final report “If not now, when?”, sets a course towards this future.

2. Money And Work

Five Calls to Action in this section focus on ensuring everyone has enough money to lead a decent life. That approach can be delivered through a Minimum Income Guarantee, a new approach to Fair Work, and a further significant improvement to the current childcare offer.

What Do We Know?

The need to address low incomes is a thread that runs through this report. Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated the deep damage that living on a low income can do. Death rates for Covid-19 have been twice as high for people living in the 20% most-deprived areas compared to the 20% least deprived areas. Poverty rates for minority ethnic communities and for disabled people are both higher than for all Scotland. And the pandemic has hit some minority ethnic communities hard – for example, deaths of people from South Asian groups in Scotland have been almost twice as likely to involve Covid-19 as deaths in the White ethnic group. Where disability data has been collected, the relative difference in Covid-linked mortality rates between those disabled and whose ability was limited a lot and those who were not disabled was 2.4 times higher for women and 2.0 times higher for men.

Before the pandemic, a third of households were financially vulnerable, meaning that they did not have enough savings to cover basic living costs for three months. The groups most likely to be financially vulnerable included lone parent families, most of which are headed by women, other families with children, and young adult households. The crisis made these existing problems worse.

  • "Families could no longer cope with costs that they were previously, only just, able to manage. Increased food and fuel costs as a result of children being at home, and the loss of free school meals, coupled with a reduced income were considered to be catastrophic for families who were barely managing before the crisis." – Children's Neighbourhood Scotland
  • "Many young people have been affected by financial strain that their parents or carers are feeling due to the pandemic, which impacts their own wellbeing. This can put pressure on the young people, with the concerns affecting other parts of their lives, such as education." – Deep Dive with Young People

Personal debt has escalated during the crisis. Unmanageable debt can adversely affect people's lives in many ways – lowering confidence and self-esteem, putting strain on relationships, causing health problems due to stress and restricting future prospects. Debt can also be used by perpetrators of domestic abuse to control victim-survivors. Therefore, high quality money advice, education and help will always be needed by people and families across the income spectrum.

Three-quarters of lone parent households were already financially at risk in 2016-18, and were more likely than average to be in unmanageable debt. Women are twice as reliant on social security as men for some or all of their income. Most asylum-seekers are in huge levels of debt by the time they are allowed by UK Government to start paid work.

Financial education was a real focus for the young people who engaged in the Deep Dive events. This is a long-standing issue – previous attempts at boosting financial education in schools were, in our view, not very effective or sustained. It is an example of the gap between good intent and patchy delivery. The need is greater than ever.

  • "The young people were passionate about financial education being provided in schools, with a lack of knowledge and understanding themselves. The group expressed feelings of cluelessness and hopelessness around these issues without the right knowledge. It was also highlighted that education needs to focus on real world issues, teaching practical skills and ensuring they know how to access the right support. They didn't feel like they currently had the skills or knowledge needed to rent or buy a property."– Deep Dive with Young People

Young people also felt that the opening times of financial services could be difficult and were a key barrier to young people accessing vital support, due to them only being open during "normal" working hours. That is a big issue in itself – that we still think about 9-5 as some kind of norm when it no longer exists.

So decent incomes for all are vitally important as we look to emerge from the pandemic. That is why we are calling for action on a Minimum Income Guarantee in Call To Action 1 and, in Call To Action 2, for a strengthened, human-rights approach to money and debt advice.

Fair work gives workers increased financial security, better physical health and greater psychological wellbeing. For business, it brings more engaged, committed and adaptable workers who spot challenges and opportunities, solve problems, offer insight and ideas for business improvement and create value. In Calls To Action 3 and 4, we appeal for a new social contract on Fair Work, and for government procurement and grant funding to do more to drive Fair Work. We call for a greater focus on the people most affected by the pandemic across policy priorities: people from areas of socio-economic deprivation, women, lone parents, minority ethnic communities, refugees, disabled people, carers and older and younger workers. Employment outcomes were unequal prior to the pandemic, and evidence suggests that these inequalities are now set to widen further. Strongly linked to Fair Work is sufficient high quality early learning and childcare. So Call To Action 5 makes the case for extending free early learning and childcare, so that all parents can access the childcare they need, when they need it.

As a result of Covid-19, many workers have been made redundant, furloughed or have had their working hours or wages cut. Workers on higher hourly pay and permanent, fixed hour contracts are less likely to have been affected compared than workers on low hourly pay and temporary or zero-hour contracts, or whose hours vary. Fair work has therefore been a key focus for the Board.

Our Deep Dive with disabled people heard that the huge rise in remote and flexible working during the pandemic should be harnessed to have a meaningful impact on the disability employment gap. Some disabled people spoke about being able to participate in work and training for the first time in years, while others voiced frustrations about years of opportunities denied, when employers or education providers refused to allow remote working / learning.

Prior to the pandemic, less than half of disabled people of working age were in employment. Young disabled people were twice as likely not to be in a positive destination (education, employment or training) six months after leaving school, and three times as likely not to be in a positive destination by the age of 19. The pandemic has already posed additional barriers for disabled workers and jobseekers, and a post-Covid-19 recession will only worsen this, as job opportunities shrink.

  • "There are huge concerns that disabled workers are at greater risk of redundancies and job losses as employers struggle to retain staff and accommodate workers who are at higher risk from the virus." – Deep Dive with Disabled People

A similar issue was found in our Deep Dive with Older People, with a feeling that stereotypes about older workers were affecting how employers were behaving:

  • "As an older worker I feel very vulnerable. I can't afford to retire early and because of the nature of my work I'm terrified of passing on the infection to my loved ones."
  • "Older workers were being forced back to work before younger workers on the assumption that they had no caring or childcare responsibilities which simply isn't true."

We must not assume that older people are not working and do not have the same caring responsibilities as younger people. That's one reason why delivering and building on the Fairer Scotland for Older People Framework, which looks at employment issues for those aged over 50, is so important.

Minority ethnic communities are more likely to work in some 'shut down' sectors, particularly hospitality – Pakistanis and Bangladeshis for example, are concentrated in passenger transport and food and beverage sectors. Over a fifth of UK minority ethnic workers who were furloughed were no longer working by September 2020, more than double the overall rate. Adults of visible minority ethnicities are less likely to be employed than White adults – this is especially true for women – and may also be less likely to have access to 'Fair Work'. Minority ethnic communities are also less likely to have savings to fall back on and may be at greater risk of the scarring effects of unemployment. The Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity made a specific recommendation about the need for Fair Work practices to do more for these communities, mentioning in particular health and social care settings, where many minority ethnic staff have been working during this pandemic.

Younger adults in employment are more likely to be working in hard-hit sectors (such as retail, leisure and entertainment) than older workers, and to be to be in forms of work (e.g. zero-hours contracts) that have been more susceptible to job losses. They also may face barriers to entering the labour market in the first place, with potential long-term consequences. The pandemic has led to a great deal of uncertainty for young workers in particular:

  • "Financial security was seen as massively important, especially to young people right now, both directly and indirectly…they felt that their ability to plan for the future was being affected by the issues they were facing." – Deep Dive with Young People

Women already earn less than men on average, are less likely to be eligible for sick pay, and more likely to be in insecure work. They are twice as reliant on social security as men for some or all of their income. Women are also in the majority of those employed in many sectors that have been 'shut down' or that have been significantly affected by restrictions, particularly minority ethnic women. They were over-represented in many of the sectors where median hourly pay fell below the current rate of the real living wage where employers did not bridge the 20% shortfall for furloughed staff. More women have been furloughed than men, and for longer periods of time.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for concerted attention on the issue of women's low incomes from social security and employment. Disabled women, minority ethnic women, and lone parents, the vast majority of whom are young women, are at an even higher risk of poverty and disruption to employment chances and good labour market outcomes. Women's unpaid housework, childcare, and unpaid care has increased and must be redistributed if women's equality is not to roll back. Gender segregation exists in many sectors in Scotland, and the undervaluation of 'women's work' such as care, cleaning and retail is a key cause of women's low pay. The pandemic risks widening gender disparities in pay and work, particularly for lone parents. Women are around a third more likely than men to work in a sector that was shut down during the pandemic than men. Single mothers with low qualifications are particularly concentrated in these sectors. Analysis suggests that while an equal share of men and women in Scotland took up furlough, men have been more likely to be retained by their employers than women. Concern has also been expressed that women may find it more difficult to secure alternative employment and income streams following lay-off, due to their disproportionate share of caring responsibilities.

The Deep Dive with Women highlighted the need to do more to recognise the full value of the work that unpaid carers do. Childcare and caring roles were already unequal, with unpaid care in the home for children, older people and disabled people mostly being done by women. However, care became more challenging over the course of the pandemic, particularly for lone parents and for those who were supporting children with additional support needs:

  • "The hardest part for me was trying to work from home and balance caring at the same time." – Community Listening Event
  • "In Facebook groups I see mums asking for advice and they are working until midnight after putting kids to bed so that they can fit in their hours etc. I'm really, really worried about burnout for so many women." – Engender
  • "Caring by its very nature can, under normal circumstances, present many challenges and throw a few curve balls. The lockdown due to Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation for carers, due to the loss of respite services, access to activities and support, which help to keep their caring role sustainable." – Community Listening Event

The report now starts to look at the Calls To Action on Money and Work in more detail, setting out our aspiration – what we want to see change – and then a series of steps for delivering that change.

Call To Action 1

Commit to a Minimum Income Guarantee for all as a long-term aim

Our Aspiration – The Scottish Government should adopt, long-term, the aim of ensuring that the income of everyone in Scotland meets a minimum income standard through a combination of paid work and/or social security. These standards reflect the varying needs of different groups and ensure they receive a level of individual income sufficient to lead a good quality of life. This should take full account of the additional costs of disability, the gendered nature of financial insecurity, intra-household dynamics including access to resources and the distribution of paid and unpaid work, and the distinct and intersecting inequalities experienced by different population groups in Scotland.

How Do We Get There?

1. As an immediate action on minimum incomes, the Scottish Government should review – learning from practice in Wales and Northern Ireland – how it can provide income and services to people with 'No Recourse to Public Funds' (NRPF) status, which disproportionately impacts minority ethnic communities. People affected are most at risk of destitution and should, like all of us, have a decent quality of life. NRPF has particular impacts for women experiencing domestic abuse and lone parents who have extremely limited access to safety nets and may be forced into destitution and homelessness. The Board agreed that no-one living here should have No Recourse to Public Funds. While that is still a possibility, we cannot deliver a fair and equal society with human rights for all.

2. The Scottish Government should consider what can be done through existing devolved powers and any further devolution required in relation to income-based social security to enable the implementation of Minimum Income Standards. The Scottish Government has already commissioned and received a report on the feasibility of piloting a Citizens' Basic Income (CBI) from four local authorities (Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow and North Ayrshire). This suggests that it is 'not currently feasible for any one sphere of government alone to deliver a pilot model of a CBI'. However, a Minimum Income Guarantee – basically, an agreed minimum level of income that everyone must receive, taking into account the needs of different individual needs – may be deliverable, if expensive.

3. The Scottish Government should also undertake feasibility studies into piloting a Minimum Income Guarantee. This should consider what can be done through existing devolved powers and any further devolution required in relation to income-based social security. This should include the adoption of formal Minimum Income Standards that reflect the varying needs of different equality groups and ensure individuals receive a level of income sufficient to lead a good quality of life. This should take full account of the gendered nature of financial insecurity, how household differences – such as size or number of children – can affect it, and how people often are facing more than one structural inequality, such as being disabled and a lone parent and living in a high cost area.

Our Deep Dive with Women advised this should focus on more than just supporting people to 'get by': "Financial Security should be aligned with other positive outcomes and take into account the need for socialisation and a decent standard of living for all".

Our Deep Dive with Disabled People highlighted that the extra costs disabled people face can amount to £550 per month according to the Extra Costs Commission, including "extra heating, extra transport if using taxis, extra clothes, pieces of equipment, minor or sometimes major home adaptations, care charges or sheltered housing service charges."

One way forward with this Call to Action would be to mandate the Poverty and Inequality Commission to consider this as part of its work.

4. To make progress towards delivering a Minimum Income Guarantee, Scottish social security payments and local payments will need to increase above earnings and inflation. This should include significant increases to the Scottish Child Payment and ways to support over-sixes prior to the existing timetable of roll-out by 2022, most likely through existing Local Government payment channels. Consideration should also be given to an uplift for disabled people alongside other uplifts which have reduced inequalities and lifted people out of poverty.

5. The Scottish Government should work with local authorities to align, automate (wherever possible) and extend entitlement to other income-based support (such as council tax reduction, free school meals and school clothing grants) to deliver a more seamless Scotland-wide social security system.

What's the difference between a Minimum Income Guarantee and a Citizens Basic Income?

There are a number of ways of thinking about a Minimum Income Guarantee. A model being developed by the Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland (IPPR Scotland) would see a universal guarantee that everyone would receive a minimum standard of income, whether through social security, work, or both. In practice, this would see top-up payments made to people and families that need them, giving them enough money to lead a good quality of life.

The Guarantee would be based on a Minimum Income Standard, the level of income required to have an acceptable standard of living. Researchers are already considering what the Minimum Income Standard is across the UK, for a range of family types and other factors such location (e.g. MIS for Remote Rural Scotland). This work is already used to set the real living wage across the UK and as part of the Scottish Government's fuel poverty measure.

A Minimum Income Guarantee differs from a CBI in a number of ways. Firstly, a Minimum Income Guarantee would offer a universal guarantee but not a universal payment. It would provide a payment only to those who need it – those who would otherwise be beneath the relevant Minimum Income Standard for their circumstances.

Secondly, instead of giving everyone the same payment regardless of their needs, it would provide a payment based on their circumstances. It would therefore cater to differing needs and costs around – for example – disability, childcare and housing, in a way that a CBI could not do by itself.

Thirdly, a Minimum Income Guarantee could be paid on a household or individual level, to the primary carer (where relevant) or through split payments, allowing it to be a more efficient tool in tackling household measures of inequality such as poverty, and better able to take account of some of the structural inequalities reflected in the home and across society.

Finally, because it is a universal guarantee but not a universal payment, the costs involved would be significantly lower than implementing a CBI at the same level.

6. The UK Government must consider urgent improvements to UK-wide social security, including making temporary uplifts – to Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit and Local Housing Allowance – permanent. It must extend the uplift to legacy payments which disabled people and carers are still receiving, implementing a double/triple lock on payments through the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. It must also make urgent reforms to and/or abolish the current sanctions and conditionality regime, two child limit, benefit cap and the five week wait for Universal Credit. It should also increase asylum support in line with rates of Universal Credit.

Call To Action 2

Develop an approach to anti-poverty work, including personal debt, that is designed around the needs of the individual

Our Aspiration – We want everyone to be able to access the financial 'shock absorbers' and 'safety nets' that help people cope with unforeseen circumstances. We need a person-centred approach to money advice, financial education and help – including welfare rights, income maximisation, debt support, employment and housing rights advice and services. These services must be seen as essential parts of Scotland's infrastructure and there to help everyone.

How Do We Get There?

1. The Scottish Government, working with lenders, energy and housing providers, local authorities and key stakeholders, should develop a person-centred approach to personal debt in Scotland designed around the individual. This would deliver a 'new normal' around personal debt, building on much of the good practice seen during the Covid-19 crisis so far, working to make payment breaks, improved communication and understanding, and softer collection practices across the commercial, government and public sectors' permanent features in Scotland. It would also ensure culturally sensitive money advice and proactive approaches through trusted partners to reach minority ethnic and other communities less likely to seek money advice.

2. The Scottish Government should work with local authorities and housing associations (and potentially with energy providers, lenders and landlords in the private sector) to develop debt write-off schemes to respond to the build-up of unsustainable debt in Scotland both before and over the course of the pandemic, including in relation to social housing rent and council tax.

3. The Scottish Government, working with communities, local authorities and key stakeholders, should reconsider what are defined as essential and statutory advice services. Through the Covid-19 crisis we have seen how crucial money advice services – including education and advice around welfare rights, income maximisation, employment and housing rights – and community spaces such as libraries, and particularly those that offer digital access, have been. This should be reflected in what we define as statutory and essential services and what we ensure is funded to stay open through existing restrictions and beyond. A national approach to advice and financial education should be taken. Everyone should be enabled to access appropriate advice, whether that is social security, housing or money advice.

4. The Scottish Government, working with local authorities, should review the existing provision of discretionary and crisis funds in Scotland, including the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments systems. This should include consideration of additional pre-crisis funds, the balance between prevention and crisis funds, and how they can better promote financial security in Scotland. As part of this, partners should explore with representative organisations and experts by experience how those experiencing domestic abuse can always access funding to remove barriers to leaving their current circumstances and building a secure life.

Read the Financial Security policy circle report here.

Call To Action 3

Work in partnership to develop a new social contract on Fair Work

Our Aspiration – We are calling for a partnership approach between government, the wider public sector and employers to develop a new social contract on Fair Work. There are real opportunities via conditions within procurement, grants and contracts to improve pay and conditions for people and communities. People who can work should receive both a living wage and more certainty about the number of hours they will be working as a minimum entitlement to address in-work poverty and income insecurity. We want all employers to be active in ensuring financial security for their employees, over and above pay, hours and conditions. We want pay rates and terms and conditions for the care and childcare sectors to be improved, and additional employment support be given to older and disabled workers.

How Do We Get There?

Employment law is currently reserved to the UK Government, so the Scottish Government does not have the legal power to legislate to improve pay or terms and conditions. The Scottish Government's current approach to delivering Fair Work is built on collaboration, engagement, and using its wider powers and policies to exert strategic influence. The voluntary approach limits the scale of impact: for example, in 2019, there were 356,550 private sector businesses operating in Scotland but only 744 had signed up to the Business Pledge and only 1,874 were Living Wage employers in Scotland. While others may be offering Fair Work in practice there is nevertheless a clear gap between the ambition and the impact that is being had.

1. The Scottish Government, and the wider public sector should commit to attaching Fair Work criteria to all grants, contracts and funding as standard, unless it can be specifically demonstrated that there is a reason not to do so. The use of new forms of targeted and conditional business support should be actively considered, as should the creation of new enforceable Fair Work obligations as a greater part of ongoing business and economic support as we continue to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. This could be based on a reward system for those who comply and should strengthen the equality and human rights elements of Fair Work. In doing this, public sector partners should consider:

  • How to mitigate against risk of favouring large organisations with greater expertise in procurement or in applying for grants.
  • How to ensure there are the skills and expertise needed for more active contract management.

In addition, the Scottish Government's review of the Small Business Bonus Scheme should identify how any future version of the scheme can be linked to Fair Work criteria.

The Scottish Government should also consider how tax powers can be used to incentivise action on Fair Work by increasing costs to employers who do not offer Fair Work. Different options for doing this should be modelled to identify the most effective lever (e.g. local payroll tax, business rates supplement).

The Scottish Government should review the procurement element of the Public Sector Equality Duty as part of its wider forthcoming refresh of the Scotland-specific regulations, in order to ensure that public sector procurement plays a role in advancing equality. This could usefully link to previous work around City Region Deals done by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Finally, we want the Scottish Government and Local Government to be able to influence the UK Government's replacement of the State Aid regime – the Modern Subsidy Scheme – to ensure that its priorities include equality and fair work.

2. The Scottish Government, working with employers and employees, and key stakeholders, should develop and promote a 'living hours' scheme in Scotland, building on the hugely successful Living Wage movement to ensure people have the wage and earnings required to end poverty and narrow inequalities. The aim should be to develop a feasibility study for the first year of the new parliament. This could build on existing 'living hours' schemes led by three UK private sector employers. Living hours means employers provide the right to:

  • At least four weeks' notice period for shifts with guaranteed payments if shifts are cancelled within this period.
  • The right to a contract reflecting accurate hours worked, and a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours a week (unless the worker requests otherwise).

We also want to see a trial of 'living hours' as part of improvements to terms and conditions across social care, and across all organisations delivering public services. This 'living hours' scheme, combined with improved pay, increased flexibility of work, and terms and conditions, could be extended in Scotland as part of improvements to terms and conditions across social care, and across all organisations delivering public services, and taken forward as part of the Fair Work agenda.

3. The Scottish Government should partner with employers across all industries and sectors to consider what more employers can do to deliver greater levels of financial security for workers, over and above pay, hours and conditions. This could include offering routes to savings, flexible pay, insurance and lending schemes that reduce income volatility, help with costs, and promote access to savings and affordable credit.

There should also be consideration of what more could be done to increase awareness for both employees and their employers about current employment rights and what to do when these are breached.

4. Employers should do more to value older workers, disabled workers, young workers and carers and prevent these groups becoming 'easy targets' for redundancy as the economic impacts of the pandemic and Brexit emerge. Employers should be required to make adjustments where at all possible to enable disabled employees to work from home on a more regular basis. Public sector employers should be encouraged to create meaningful jobs for disabled people and one-to-one employability advice and coaching to build capacity. The Scottish Government should create an Access to Work fund to support older and disabled people's access to volunteering and work experience placements. The Scottish Government should deliver and build on the Fairer Scotland for Older People Framework for Action, which looks at employment issues for those aged over 50.

Call To Action 4

Focus Fair Work actions on the people most affected by the pandemic

Our Aspiration – We call on government and the public sector to focus Fair Work actions more on the groups most affected by the pandemic – whether that is in public sector employment, training, pay setting, commissioning, procurement or investment.

How Will We Get There?

1. Each employability or skills programme/funding stream should be required to set out what action it will take to ensure that people from minority ethnic groups, refugees, disabled people, women, single parents, young people, older people, carers and people from deprived areas benefit from what it offers. Monitoring information must be collected for each programme/funding stream about access, what support has been provided and outcomes for these groups. This data should be intersectional and include the types of skills/training, industry/occupation for outcomes in order to measure the impact on occupational segregation. The information collected should be used to develop and refine programmes to achieve the intended outcomes. Of course, the Public Sector Equality Duty sets an expectation for this kind of analysis as part of equality impact assessment, but this analysis is not being done in a consistent or comprehensive way.

2. The public sector's wage-setting, procurement and commissioning powers should be used to drive up pay rates and terms and conditions in the care and childcare sectors. Gender segregation exists in many sectors in Scotland and the undervaluation of jobs such as care and cleaning (often seen as "women's work") is a key cause of women's low pay. The Scottish Government has aimed to reduce the gender pay gap for employees in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary term and has published A Fairer Scotland for Women, a strategic action plan on the gender pay gap, but there are no specific actions in the action plan to address the undervaluation of women's work. Increases to pay and better terms and conditions in the care and childcare sectors are needed to value this work appropriately.

The Scottish Government should also ensure all skills interventions have reducing occupational segregation as a central aim.

3. To help parents, the Scottish Government should provide significant increases in funding for the Parental Employment Support Fund to tackle child poverty. Current programme funding is insufficient to make the progress needed to meet Scotland's statutory targets on child poverty. Those in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment should be helped to access parental employment support, should they need to.

In addition, an equivalent to the Youth Guarantee should be set up for parents from the priority family groups engaging with programmes supported by the Fund. This should offer a guarantee of work (with a wage subsidy provided if necessary) or funded training or education if a parent has not got a job after engaging with the programme for an agreed period. It should also include support with childcare if needed.

4. The Scottish Government should set up a scheme to help young people set up their own businesses. This will need to take into account in accessibility criteria that young disabled people may reach milestones at different ages.

5. Childcare and social care should be designated as key growth sectors in future economic strategies. This should provide policy focus and economic development support for these critical sectors.

6. The Scottish Government should designate a proportion of the Green Jobs Fund specifically for enabling people from areas of socio-economic deprivation, women, single parents, people from minority ethnic communities, refugees, disabled people, carers and young people to train for and access Green Jobs, tackling occupational segregation. This funding should be focused on people within these groups who are furthest from the labour market or excluded because of discriminatory stereotypes. The Scottish Government should set a target for representation of these groups in Green Jobs and identify the proportion of funding needed to achieve this. It should set out how it will monitor whether the funding is being used for this purpose and how it will evaluate whether it has been delivered and its equality impacts.

7. The Scottish Government should commit to providing unpaid carers with a higher level of income that better reflects the value of the care they provide. It should carry out modelling work to look at how best to:

  • Provide support equivalent to the Living Wage to working-age carers caring 20+ hours a week.
  • Deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee for unpaid carers and ensure they are passported to other relevant benefits and services.
  • Ensure carers are not prevented from accessing education, training and employability programmes because they are providing care.

There is minimal data on carers in employment in Scotland and this should be addressed.

Read the Addressing Low Income policy circle report here.

Call To Action 5

Extend free early learning, childcare, and social care for disabled children so all parents and carers can access the childcare they need, when they need it

Our Aspiration – We want to see the improvements in childcare made over recent years delivered and then taken further. Childcare benefits all of us: parents, carers, employers, communities and most importantly, children. High quality childcare is a critical enabler of women's labour market participation and can help address the impact of unequal sharing of caring responsibilities, particularly women's ability to work and subsequent earnings and pensions. Improving local childcare services is good for everyone in the community. It improves the life chances of all children – especially disadvantaged children. It boosts children's learning and gives them the chance to mix with others from a wide variety of backgrounds. Childcare can help to tackle issues of social, geographic and economic isolation, allowing parents to take up paid work or training and education, raising families out of poverty and contributing to local economies.

How Do We Get There?

1. Local Government should deliver the 1140 hours of early learning and childcare commitment as soon as possible. This was due to be rolled out in August 2020 but the duty to provide 1140 hours has effectively been put on hold for a year due to the pandemic. A number of councils are already delivering 1140 hours of funded childcare and others are aiming to provide as many hours of funded childcare as possible (e.g. once construction projects are completed). Next month, a recommendation from the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) joint Delivery Board will be made to Scottish Ministers and COSLA leaders on when it is feasible for a national date for the duty on local authorities to deliver 1140 hours of ELC to return.

2. Set out a radical childcare ambition for the next parliamentary term. As with other advisory groups, including the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, we are calling for an entitlement to 50 hours per week of funded, good quality and flexible education and childcare for all children between six months and five years old. In the next parliamentary term, urgent work should be carried out on how childcare can be provided more flexibly, alongside a funded or subsidised out of school care entitlement to develop an integrated childcare offer from 0-12 years. An integrated childcare offer should include provision that meets the needs of disabled children.


Email: socialrenewal@gov.scot

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