Race equality action plan: final report

Progress made on the actions in the Race Equality Action Plan 2017 to 2021 and action taken to tackle race inequality in response to the 2020 to 2021 COVID-19 pandemic as well as action from 2021 onwards to implement the aims of the Race Equality Framework 2016-2030.

ANNEX H – Gypsy/Travellers

These annexes provide updates on all original actions from the Race Equality Action Plan followed by updates on the reprioritised and refocused actions from the end of Year 2. Additional activity in Year 3 that has taken place in response to either COVID-19 or Black Lives Matter is then captured.

Action status categorisation is as follows

  • Complete*
  • Ongoing**
  • Paused
  • Reprioritised

*We cannot see this work as being done just because an action has been completed within a timeframe. For some actions, the marking of a status as complete may mean that the specific one-off action as originally proposed has been undertaken however work continues in this area and this is reflected in the update.

** Actions may be marked as 'ongoing' for the same reason. Much of the work reflected in these annexes is long-term in nature and continues beyond the end of the REAP.

Year 1 only
Action Action Status Update
We will establish a Gypsy/Traveller Ministerial Working Group to cover the areas of Education, Health, Employment and Housing/Planning, which will be attended by the Ministers for these portfolios. Complete A Gypsy/Traveller Ministerial Working Group was established in 2018, demonstrating leadership from five ministers with responsibility for the key areas of housing and planning, children and young people, public health, employability and skills and equality and human rights. Recognising the critical role local government has to play in improving outcomes for Gypsy/Traveller communities, the Convenor of COSLA's Community Wellbeing Board was formally invited to join the group. It met seven times over the course of 2018/19 leading up to the publication of our cross-government action plan Improving the lives of Gypsy/Travellers: 2019-2021 in October 2019. An early decision of the group was that it needed to hear directly from members of the Gypsy/Traveller community, and so every meeting has included community representation. The Ministerial Working Group reconvened one year after the plan was published to review progress. The Group has been instrumental in the progressing the work that we are undertaking to improve outcomes for the Gypsy/Traveller community. Minutes from the Group are published online.
Our Gypsy/Traveller Programme of Work will bring together all the relevant policies across Scottish Government to help secure improved outcomes for the community. Complete An important role of the Ministerial Working Group is to work across key portfolios, and officials across these portfolios have formed close working relationships – alongside COSLA officials – to ensure a genuinely cross-government approach and to strengthen the combined impact of our policies and services on our Gypsy/Traveller communities. Our Gypsy/Traveller action plan demonstrates our commitment to securing better outcomes for the community, at a national and local level, across the key areas of accommodation, improved public services (notably health and education), as well as tackling poverty. A key element of the plan is about tackling the stubborn discrimination that this community continues to face – at home, at school and at work – and to celebrate the contribution which Gypsy/Travellers make to our communities, our cultures and our country.
A joint Scottish Government and COSLA summit will be held in 2018 with local authorities to share best practice on improving the lives of Gypsy/Traveller communities. Complete Rather than hold a single event to share best practice, since 2018 we have worked closely with COSLA on a joint agenda to improve the lives of Scotland's Gypsy/Travellers. This culminated in the publication of our joint action plan – which has the full support of COSLA and all 32 Council Leaders. We have also provided funding for two posts at COSLA to support local authorities to deliver the actions set out in the plan at a local level. We have recently extended this funding to September 2021. This approach has enabled a much greater level of collaboration between the Scottish Government, COSLA and local authorities to improve outcomes for Gypsy/Travellers, including sharing best practice.
A review will be held into the progress of local authorities and Registered Social Landlords towards meeting the minimum site standards for Gypsy/Traveller sites ahead of the June 2018 deadline. Complete Between August 2017 and March 2018, the Scottish Government carried out a review of progress towards meeting the minimum standards for Gypsy/Traveller sites. The first phase of this work involved requesting site providers to complete a self-assessment of their progress. This was followed up by a programme of visits to eight sites to talk to residents about their experiences of conditions on their sites while issuing questionnaires to residents living on the remaining sites. We spoke to a number of residents during these visits and received questionnaire returns from five other sites. According to the self-assessment returns, two sites met the standards across the board at the time of the survey and information gathered in the review indicated that 19 out of 26 sites would meet the site standards by June 2018. However, in a number of areas where site providers said that they met the standard, the information from site residents did not support this. We published a report detailing our findings in May 2018. The minimum site standards are now part of the Scottish Social Housing Charter and this report provided a baseline for the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) in its on-going oversight of the Charter. The Minister wrote to the SHR and all site providers when the report was published to stress that the Scottish Government expected all sites to be brought up to standard as soon as possible and that residents should be kept informed of progress. The Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) published a review report on 23 October 2018 which found that 13 sites actually met the minimum standards by the June 2018 deadline. We continue to liaise with the SHR and site providers to ensure that all sites provide accommodation that is of a good standard to Gypsy/Travellers. The Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan published in 2019 includes an action to ensure that the small number of remaining sites still to meet the minimum standard do so as soon as possible.
Educational guidance will be published aimed at schools, including early learning and childcare settings, and local authorities, to help them improve educational outcomes for Traveller children. Complete The guidance was finalised following the consultation on the draft and comments from the Ministerial Working Group on Gypsy Travellers and published in the Autumn 2018. Improving educational outcomes for children and young people from travelling cultures Since the Ministerial Working Group was established in January 2018, the Scottish Government has invested £1 million specifically on improving the delivery of education to Gypsy/Traveller children, young people and their families. This was done in two ways, taking into account previous criticism from the Equality and Human Rights Committee (amongst others) that our previous work in this area did not deliver real long-term change, or were of too small a scale. The first – delivered by STEP - was to focus on improving the community's experience of education within existing systems. This enabled us to embed positive and effective approaches across Scotland. This involved tailoring initiatives at a local level, which allowed us to accelerate programmes of work that upskilled key staff and strengthened or created important partnerships. As a result, there is more consistency across the country and all age groups. The second was a programme - delivered jointly by a range of third sector partners - supported digital learning for Gypsy/Travellers – something that has risen in prominence during the national lockdowns. Significant headway has been made in terms of online/distance learning via the distribution of digital tablet devices; MiFi routers and digital data plans – as well as in online teaching staff. There is hope these methods can be continued in a post-pandemic world, as they have proven to be highly effective and have the potential to help combat long term inequalities in education for this community.
Multi-year actions
Action Action Status Update
An annual event will be held during Gypsy/Traveller month in June to promote and celebrate the cultural heritage of the community. Complete (The Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan now incorporates these actions) Although Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month has been widely celebrated in the UK since 2001, the concept was only formally adopted in Scotland in 2016. Since then it has grown in stature every year - with celebrations of art, culture and history within the broader community, as well as awareness-raising sessions, fun days out for the family and exhibitions in museums. Due to the global pandemic, things were run slightly differently in 2020. This time all events were moved online, and ran in partnership between Article 12 and MECOPP with funding from Scottish Government. This involved a wide range of events that could be attended remotely, including traditional craft-making; story telling; discussions on identity and photograph sharing. This was deemed a great success, in spite of the challenging circumstances and consideration is being given to the development of the resources used into a more permanent online museum in the future.
We will establish a mechanism to ensure continued engagement with stakeholders and members of the community. Ongoing (The Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan now incorporates these actions) Community engagement is at the heart of how we are planning all future work. Although COVID-19 prevented us from getting out into the community ourselves in 2020, we utilised, and continue to utilise, partners in our Action Group such as STEP and MECOPP. Going forward, we are investing more in work that will have engagement at its centre. For example, we have funded a new MECOPP placement for the Women's Voices Project, to undertake extensive engagement work with the community. MECOPP have also secured funding from Scottish Government for a new COSLA post, whose sole focus will be to support Gypsy/Traveller engagement in their local areas. At the suggestion of the Minister for Older People & Equalities, we have also set up a regular Community Conversation drop-in – where members of the community can come and speak freely to the Minister and Cllr Whitham regarding concerns or worries they may have.
We will work with National Records of Scotland as they engage with Gypsy/Travellers and devise their plans for Scotland's Census 2021 Ongoing (The Gypsy Travel Action Plan now incorporates these actions) We are continuing to work with National Records of Scotland to support them in their work preparing for the 2022 Census. Our key focus is on ensuring that there are strong communications sent out into the community, which will ensure significant participation when the time comes.
We will continue to engage with the Health and Social Care sector to improve Gypsy/Travellers' access to and experience of healthcare services over the lifetime of this Parliament. Ongoing (The Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan now incorporates these actions) We have worked closely with Scottish Public Health Network during the pandemic, through our Action Group. This engagement was instrumental in the provision of the Health Boxes, distributed via MECOPP during lockdown. We also worked with MECOPP to fund a telephone counselling service for Gypsy/Travellers suffering from poor mental health during the pandemic – which has now been given the go-ahead to continue until March 2021, ensuring support is still there for the winter months. Further engagement will play a critical role in our activity as we move forward through the pandemic and recovery.
We will financially support organisations working to improve outcomes in areas such as employment, health and education for the Gypsy/Traveller and Roma communities. Ongoing (The Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan now incorporates these actions) Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the approach that we had planned for this activity in 2020. However, these remain critical issues for us and there is strong cross-government and third sector commitment to ensuring better outcomes for the community. During the pandemic specifically, Scottish Government has funded projects that have been set up to:
  • Support continued education through digital inclusion (distribution of tablets and dongles).
  • Combat financial insecurity via a Financial Resilience phone-line.
  • Work against poor wellbeing with a Mental Health & Wellness phone-line.
  • To avoid those in self-isolation missing out on essentials, by providing a tailored Health Box delivery service.
The newly set up Officials' Working Group for Gypsy/Travellers incorporates policy leads from health, education, equality, & accommodation – who will respond to community feedback to ensure the Actions they are delivering from the Action Plan meet community expectation/needs.
We will use social media and the One Scotland website to promote the Gypsy/Traveller community and organisations. Ongoing (The Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan now incorporates these actions) Through the Action Group a Gypsy/Travellers Facebook page was set up as a focal point for distributing COVID-specific messages into the community. This has now evolved into a more general information page which is run by Article 12 with input from Scottish Government and other partners such as the NHS. Content consists of information useful to community members, such as videos about coronavirus safety. This includes videos/graphics – often delivered by community members themselves – covering a variety of topics, for example graphics on vaccination uptake; FACTS safety during the pandemic; or instructional exercise videos for when the gyms are closed by a professional Gypsy/Traveller athlete.
We remain committed to Scotland's plan-led system being more effective, and we will review the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), including to enable the positive planning of family sites for the Gypsy/Traveller community, over this parliamentary term. The Planning Bill will pursue a higher, statutory status for policies contained within the SPP. It will also pursue measures aimed at encouraging wider engagement in the development plan. Paused (The Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan now incorporates these actions) Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that current & future accommodation needs are met – so that Gypsy/Travellers are provided with access to good quality, safe & appropriately located sites. The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 includes new duties for planning authorities to set out how they have engaged with Gypsy/Travellers in their local development plan evidence reports. They will also have to report on how they have met the accommodation needs of Gypsy/Travellers. Scottish Government is also currently reviewing national planning policies, recognising that policies should support a wider range of new & innovative delivery solutions – including for Gypsy/Travellers. On publication (anticipated spring 2022), the National Planning Framework 4 will be a key strand in ensuring that the current & future accommodation needs of Gypsy/Travellers are met.


Email: charlie.goodwin@gov.scot

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