Information

Public Sector Equality Duty - operation review: consultation analysis

Independent analysis of consultation responses to the Scottish Government Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) Review. The consultation ran from 13 December 2021 to 11 April 2022.


7 Proposal 4

Assessing and reviewing policies and practice

7.1 Context

Regulation 5: 'Duty to assess and review policies and practices' requires listed authorities, where and to the extent necessary to fulfil the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice against the needs mentioned in that duty, i.e. the need to advance equality of opportunity, eliminate discrimination and foster good relations.

The Scottish Government proposes to adjust the duty to assess and review policies and practices to emphasise that assessments must be undertaken as early as possible in the policy development process and should aim to test ideas prior to decisions being taken to ultimately make better policy for people.

The Scottish Government also proposes to strengthen the duty to assess and review policies and practices to require the involvement of people with lived experience, or organisations who represent them, in certain circumstances, like where the policy being assessed is a strategic level decision (of the type that engage the socio-economic duty in part 1 of the Equality Act 2010). This is also explored in Proposal 7.

As set out in Proposal 1, the Scottish Government proposes to require listed authorities to report on how they have implemented all of their Scottish Specific Duties (SSDs) as part of their overarching mainstreaming reporting duty. This will include assessing and reviewing policies and practices. This could be illustrated through case studies and examples.

7.2 Question 4.1 – General Views

What are your views on the proposal outlined above?

A vast majority of respondents provided a response to Question 4.1 (91%).

7.2.1 Respondents who support the proposal

Most respondents agree with the Scottish Government proposal outlined above regarding Regulation 5: 'Duty to assess and review policies and practices'. The main themes to emerge in support of the proposal are outlined below.

Theme 1: Support for assessments to be undertaken early

Most of the respondents who express support note agreement with the proposal to adjust the duty to assess and review policies and practices to emphasise that Equality Impact Assessments (EqIAs) must be undertaken as early as possible in the policy development or review process – "at a formative stage of policy development", "from the inception of a policy development process" and "before strategies and policies reach version final and before any project is designed".

These respondents feel that the proposal could:

  • Help to make impact assessment an integral part of policy development processes (e.g. not formulaic nor tokenistic, increase transparency, accountability, and public reporting).
  • Encourage a proactive and forward-looking approach to EqIA among listed authorities.
  • Improve the way equalities is considered in policy making.
  • Create better policy for people with protected characteristics.
  • Ultimately help to develop more inclusive policies, practices, and strategies.
  • Be an effective tool to assist listed authorities develop policies which result in real improvements in the lives of those with protected characteristics (i.e. improve policy effectiveness).

"This means the assessment process must happen before a policy is decided. The assessment cannot be retrospective, or undertaken near the end of the process, but should instead be integral to the earliest stages of the development of proposed polices or practices, and in the revision of existing policies or practices". However, this does not happen consistently or effectively".

Scottish Women's Aid

A couple of listed authorities – while supportive of the Scottish Government proposal in principle – note that "assessment cannot always be carried out as early as would be desirable", or that "…it is not always appropriate to carry out an assessment as 'early as possible'; with a risk that you are just assessing the principle of a policy rather than the impact of a detailed formulated policy".

Theme 2: Support for strengthening the duty and improving the regime

Respondents (i.e. all groups) note that the proposal to strengthen the duty to assess and review policies and practices to require the involvement of people with lived experience, or organisations who represent them, in certain circumstances, is a "welcomed step". These respondents view such a requirement as key and "should be prioritised and mainstreamed into the decision making of public bodies".

Further, many respondents agree that it is "important for decision makers to be informed by the lived experience of those affected by policies/practices", that it is important to listen to the "real life challenges" of people who share protected characteristics, and that engagement must be "carefully planned", "timely", "genuine", "meaningful", and be "transparent".

These respondents emphasise that such an approach would:

  • Ensure that EqIAs become less process driven.
  • Encourage listed authorities to involve equality stakeholders at an early stage.
  • Be used more to inform the development of policy or practice or to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. For example, some respondents feel that it is often used in a limited way to determine unlawful discrimination.
  • Ensure that equality considerations are more likely to form part of the decision-making process.
  • Encourage involvement of people with lived experience, or organisations who represent them, to be mainstreamed rather than viewed as ah-hoc or a one-off exercise.
  • Encourage the use of robust qualitative data alongside quantitative data, or where no quantitative data is available.

"There is a clear distinction between organisations that directly represent people and organisations that undertake structural analyses of equality issues. Our draft regulations make suggested amendments to the 'duty to involve' accordingly".

Engender

"Access to data is essential if good EqIAs are to be carried out".

Scottish Women's Budget Group

Theme 3: Clearer and stronger wording

Further, some equalities advocacy groups and others highlight concerns the current approach/system is not working, and that implementation of this duty has been weak.

"The duty to assess and review policies is currently seen as a duty of filling out a form rather than its original purpose of creating meaningful change. The SFC therefore welcomes the intention to improve this process, as well as the way equality is considered in policy making".

Scottish Funding Council

"The increased focus on the EqIA process needs to be more robust in the elements around advancing equality of opportunity as the current focus is skewed towards identifying and eliminating discrimination. This focus doesn't necessarily reduce the inequality gap".

Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS)

"Engender proposes that listed authorities are required to follow a prescribed set of criteria that must be met in undertaking an EqIA. As the consultation document describes, many listed authorities have indicated that such an approach would be welcome. We have developed the set of steps below following years of being approached for views on or support with developing EqIAs, as well as regular analysis of those relating to key policy areas for women's equality:

  • "Relevant qualitative and quantitative evidence relating to women (and all other protected characteristics) is described.
  • Gaps in evidence are identified and needed additional research is outlined.
  • Existing evidence is analysed from a gender equality perspective (and from the perspective of all other protected characteristics).
  • This analysis is applied to identify where gender inequality and discrimination against women can be reduced and where women's equality can be advanced.
  • Policy is developed or adapted to address the inequalities and opportunities to advance equality that have been identified, including steps to fill gaps in the evidence base".

Engender

Close the Gap notes that there is a "need for a cultural shift to ensure equality impact assessments are prioritised and embedded across Government and the public sector, however, we are not persuaded that this can be achieved without regulatory change". They also recommend that the wording of regulation five is strengthened to provide clarity on the purpose and process of equality impact assessments, and to enable greater accountability and enforcement – "A new regulation should set out minimum standards that public bodies must comply with in how they use equality impact assessment".

There is some respondent feedback that terms used in the Scottish Government proposal may be open to interpretation (e.g. 'aim' to test ideas, 'as early as possible'). These respondents suggest there may be benefit in the drafting of legislation to have clear definitions/be carefully worded in order to convey and mandate their intent and to maximise effectiveness and impact – "We urge Scottish Government to ensure that wording around this is as strong as possible".

Theme 4: Scottish Government to lead by example

A point raised by some respondents (e.g. equality advocacy groups) is that it would be important for the Scottish Government to lead by example in this regard, ensuring that government completes timely, substantive EqIAs when new strategies and policies are being considered. This relates to a previous point raised on the perception that EqIAs are currently "used inconsistently or carried out retrospectively, or sometimes not carried out at all".

"It would be beneficial if the Scottish Government led on strategic impact assessments for public sector wide initiatives to level up and when introducing or changing provisions such as parental leave. The public sector should be consistent and funded to set the example for industry".

Scottish Police Authority/Police Scotland

Theme 5: Robust guidance

Some respondents (e.g. equality advocacy groups, listed authorities) call for the Scottish Government to provide robust guidance to "support listed authorities when making decisions about what to assess".

"Agree that there needs to be guidance and sharing of best practice that moves away from a process driven approach to a value added evidence based decision making model. The current process can often become overcomplicated and lose sight of the intention of the duty".

Scottish Police Authority/Police Scotland

7.2.2 Respondents who raise issues or concerns

Many respondents, including those who support the proposal, caveat their response or raise concerns. The main themes to emerge from these consultation responses are summarised below.

Theme 1: Important to not to over burden people or organisations

While respondents (all groups) acknowledge that EqIA processes need to be made more accessible for people with lived experience to engage with the process meaningfully, concerns are raised about the practicalities of implementing the proposal.

Related points made by these respondents include that:

  • It would be important to ensure that people with lived experience (in general as well as smaller protected characteristic groups) or the organisations who represent them are not over-burdened by the requirement for involvement.
  • "Consultation fatigue" must be avoided.
  • The requirement should be proportionate and necessary to the programme being assessed.
  • Consideration could be given to exemptions or thresholds to ensure that engagement is meaningful.
  • A commitment could be made by the Scottish Government to provide resources and assistance to enable and support people not only to share but to cope with any issues that sharing entails for them (e.g. sometimes this may involve asking an individual to relive deep trauma).

Some of these respondents point to existing toolkits that could be looked at to inform the PSED Review. For example, the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities' (SCLD) toolkit for including people with learning disabilities in the EqIA process is mentioned.

A suggestion (e.g from a few listed authorities) is that "Where possible existing data and evidence should be utilised to reduce burden on representative organisations and individuals, or on building that evidence base for use across the public sector where it does not already exist. And that the enhancement of the Scottish Government evidence finder may support this approach.

These respondents also suggest that the Scottish Government could continue to engage with relevant stakeholders and learn lessons from others when finalising the proposal.

Theme 2: Resources and support to build knowledge and capacity

There is recognition across the consultation responses that there needs to be consideration across national and local government of the realistic level of resource commitment required to adequately fulfil this duty.

"Requests for our input do not take account of the expense, time and energy required for us to contribute and support participation by our members. This should be addressed".

Inclusion Scotland

"Setting a standard is one thing, having the capability and capacity to fulfil it is quite another".

Equate Scotland

There is also reference made across consultation responses (e.g. by some equality advocacy groups) that the proposals would require a cultural shift in terms of how EqIA are viewed across government and public sector – "They are seen as a means to an end, rather than as a step to developing action to overcome identified issues". As such, the provision of "meaningful training to managers" is considered essential to improve levels of knowledge and understanding, and for staff within listed authorities to be equipped and have the necessary awareness, understanding and skills to complete meaningful EqIAs, including at board and senior executive level, and to develop further action from them.

A related point (e.g. equality advocacy groups, listed authorities, other public bodies) is that to engender a culture change whereby EqIAs are seen as a useful tool to ensure policies and practice are more inclusive, affect change and ultimately make for more efficient use of resources, then it would be important to "build institutional knowledge and capacity on equalities and human rights within listed authorities". These respondents note that this would require "adequate and sustained resources" to achieve.

Awareness raising of EqIA as well as the provision of technical guidance, systematic training, workshops, toolkits, EqIA template, mandatory minimum considerations, general support, and opportunities to share issues/experiences, are all referenced in the consultation responses as potentially helpful ways to support listed authorities to implement the new duties. Ongoing capacity and capability development is viewed by respondents as critically important.

"We would like to emphasise the need for resources which focus on the 'how' rather than just the 'why'. It was raised by many councils that a central resource to provide awareness raising, training and general support for councils would be invaluable. The 'Fairer Scotland' support post based in the Improvement Service was given as an example that has worked well for councils".

COSLA

Theme 3: Integrated impact assessments

A few listed authorities report that there is an existing requirement to undertake various impact assessments (e.g. Fairer Scotland Duty Impact Assessments, Islands Communities Impact Assessments, and Equality Impact Assessments, and some services complete Health Inequalities Impact Assessments).

In this regard, these respondents feel that the "assessment landscape is going to become more complicated with introduction of Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments and mooted Human Rights Impact Assessments".

They note that resources are constrained, and that the requirement to "increase levels of engagement make the need for a joined-up approach more important".

A point made by these respondents is that they would like to see all impact assessments required by Scottish Government to be "integrated, with consistent guidance provided as to when and how these are required" or a "more coherent framework". They add that the advantages of an integrated or coherent framework for impact assessments include that integration would: enable a better strategic overview to be undertaken within organisations; result in less contradiction/ differences between different assessments about what needs to be done; and enable more efficient use of resources with regards to engagement with service users.

Theme 4: Proposals may not be sufficient to drive the desired change

A few respondents (e.g. listed authorities, equality advocacy groups, other organisation) feel that "the proposals outlined above go some way to strengthening existing requirements but may not be sufficient to drive the desired change". Some but not all respondents expand on this point further.

For example, The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) note that the proposals are "too weak to lead to meaningful change" and recommend the following amendments to the SSD in relation to EqIA:

  • "Require involvement of service users with protected characteristics and those who represent their interests (where relevant) in equality impact assessments.
  • Consider creating a pro-active right to request involvement in EqIA processes, with rationales for the decision to be published.
  • Consider creating a pro-active right to request that an EqIA be carried out on a specific policy or service, with rationales for the decision to be published."

CRER also identifies some additional considerations, including:

  • "A summary of EqIA activity should be set out within the single report, but would suggest that inclusion of a full list of EqIAs carried out should be required in addition to this overview.
  • This could usefully include a requirement to set out whether the policy/service being assessed will be continued without mitigation (where no impact identified), continued with mitigations, halted to identify mitigations, or halted entirely as no mitigations are possible. This four-option consideration is paraphrased from previous Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance, prior to their adoption of a non-prescriptive stance.

In our view, an approach such as this could substantially reduce the tendency for EqIAs to have no impact on decision making.

  • We would also support mandating publication of a summary of the evidence used in assessing equality impacts, alongside data gaps limiting the available evidence".

A related point made by the Women's Support Project is that "It is essential that lived experience and data are intrinsic in the policy development process at operational level as well as at a strategic level". Further, NASUWT query why the views of people with lived experience would only be required in certain circumstances.

7.2.3 Respondents who do not support the proposal

There is limited feedback from respondents that notes they do not support the proposal regarding Regulation 5: 'Duty to assess and review policies and practices'. Rather, as noted above, many respondents caveat their support by raising points for the Scottish Government to consider or request further clarification on the proposal.

A point raised by an equality advocacy group relates to the reporting on EqIAs and notes their opposition to the proposed system of a single report every four years, and other feedback relates to the issue of accountability.

"We do not see how this could be an effective lever to address the significant and deeply-rooted issues with the quality of EqIAs. We are recommending annual reporting against the strategic plan that would include a list of each EqIA undertaken during the reporting period, accompanied by a summary of what impact the process of gathering and analysis of evidence had on decision-making. The substance of progress reporting must be clearly delineated in guidance; we reject the notion that reporting on implementation of EqIAs "could be illustrated by case studies and examples".

Engender

"The proposal fails to acknowledge the accountability of listed authorities. EqIA's have become a 'tick-box' exercise where there is little difference made….Although the current proposal has its practical values, there is no mention of accountability and consequences of this exercise is not fulfilled properly. For example, the current Co-Design service within the Scottish Government does not include a published equality impact assessment as such and does not implement a human rights-based approach….we have concerns about the reluctance of civil servants in embedding these assessments from the beginning of a policy development process and reviews.

The involvement of those with lived experiences should provide a greater insight with alternative solutions to overcome barriers. We empathise with the inclusion of all SSD's in one mainstreaming report as this avoids repetition of work and consolidates evaluations within one document. However, as already highlighted, the focus should be on the reporting of positive equalities outcomes".

Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland

7.2.4 Further clarification on the proposal requested

Some respondents request further clarity from the Scottish Government on the proposal, including, for example:

  • The term used in the proposal 'should aim to test ideas' should be clearly defined.
  • The term 'lived experience' should be clearly defined.
  • When the term 'strategic level decision' used in the proposal would apply.
  • Clarification on how prescriptive the proposed changes would be.
  • Whether there would be the flexibility for a proportionate approach.
  • How compliance with the duty would be monitored and enforced.
  • That inequality goes beyond the nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010, and that EqIAs could be strengthened if they included human rights and socio-economic circumstance.

7.3 Question 4.2 – Other Improvements

The Scottish Government recognises that improving the regime around assessing and reviewing policies and practices will take more than regulatory change. How else could improvements be made?

A vast majority of respondents answered Question 4.2 (89%).

Many respondents raise similar points to those outlined at Question 4.1, for example:

  • Support is expressed for assessments to be undertaken early.
  • Support is also expressed for strengthening the duty and improving the regime in terms of ensuring an active role for people with lived experience.
  • The Scottish Government leading by example is emphasised as important.
  • There is a request for the provision of robust guidance.
  • It is considered important not to over burden people with lived experience or organisations that represent them.
  • It is proposed that resources and support are needed to build knowledge and capacity in listed authorities.
  • Support is expressed for integrated impact assessments.

Additional improvements identified by respondents have been summarised below.

Theme 1: Culture change is required to improve the regime

Many respondents, particularly equality advocacy groups, feel that a culture change is required to improve the regime around assessing and reviewing policies and practices. They note that the current regime, including EqIA, is too often seen as an "add-on" and bureaucratic, which leads to a "poor" level of compliance. These equalities advocacy groups suggest that facilitating culture change across listed authorities would be an important factor in ensuring greater compliance.

Many listed authorities and equality advocacy groups state that efforts to mainstream equality will be vital to improving the regime in this regard. For example, a few respondents suggest there is an opportunity for a group of senior leaders across listed authorities to share knowledge and expertise to drive culture change across public bodies to improve the regime.

Another view held by some equality advocacy groups is that there is already a range of available guidance, and that the main issue that needs addressed is compliance by listed authorities. These respondents feel that a culture change from senior leadership, which is adequately and continuously resourced, is required to improve the regime around assessing and reviewing policies and practices.

"Equate Scotland considers that a complete culture change is necessary to improve the regime around assessing and reviewing policies and practices. We would say there have been plenty of opportunities for meaningful change to be enacted, and outcomes have fallen short. Tangible effort and outcomes are required to make substantial progress."

Equate Scotland

Theme 2: Resources and support to build knowledge and capacity

In order to improve the regime and facilitate cultural change, most respondents, particularly listed authorities, report a need for resources and support to build knowledge and capacity within their own and other organisations.

In addition to the feedback described at Question 4.1, other suggested improvements include that the sharing of best practice, case studies and templates would be valuable. It was reported that this would help to clarify expectations, ensure consistency of approach across different organisations:

  • "Training that everyone can access, for example, good quality e-learning or a training video for the types of 'policies' that all organisations have and should be doing assessments for.
  • Overarching guidance, a standard equality impact assessment template that we could download and resources (such as examples of which external organisations to involve in an assessment, where to find quantitative data, data gathering template, action plan template, etc).
  • Sharing good practice case studies (difference a good assessment has made, or how others have embedded it into their organisations).
  • Tools to share so that professionals can share it within their organisations to help embed it, so it becomes 'the way things are done around here."

Care Inspectorate

A further point raised by listed authorities is that it would be beneficial if there is a "national-led" and "unified" approach to training which is easy to understand and implement.

Many respondents identify that practical training, particularly targeted at senior and middle management level, may help to facilitate cultural change within organisations, improve the quality of EqIA and equality data which is gathered, and mainstream equality considerations.

Many listed authorities express strong support for a dedicated equality and human rights officer to help progress work in this area. It is suggested that their role could be to "provide internal advice, guidance and competence building" and monitor "the use of equality impact assessments within the organisation, ensuring they adhered to the standards set out in the duties and guidance."

For some respondents, having an officer with clearly defined roles and responsibilities could help to improve levels of compliance. Some respondents point to previous examples such as the value of a dedicated officer and programme manager for the Fairer Scotland Duty and would welcome a similar resource aligned to the Scottish Government proposal. These respondents also note that this would require adequate and continuous funding and resource.

"A dedicated equality and human rights resource at a senior officer level is required to embed into performance and quality improvement structures. There have been examples of where this has worked previously when resources were made available to quality check impact assessments being undertaken as a way of identifying any corrective actions required to deliver a robust impact assessment which involved those with the relevant protected characteristics/lived experiences or those experiencing inequality. Such a resource will also deliver a direct link to Risk Registers as well as monitoring and reporting on progress being made against the recommendations which come out of the impact assessment."

Aberdeen City HSCP

Theme 3: Robust guidance

In addition to the points raised regarding robust guidance at Question 4.1, additional feedback is provided by respondents on specific guidance relating to EqIA and involving people with lived experience or organisations who represent them.

Some listed authorities state that it would be useful to have clear and standardised definitions to aid the understanding of EqIA and relevant data. A wider view expressed is that better defined expectations of what is required would result in EqIA being more outcome-focussed to ensure impact and promote their use as a "practical tool" rather than being viewed as a process. Several respondents note their positive experience of, and the helpful guidance provided, as part of the Fairer Scotland Duty and would welcome a similar approach here.

In terms of involving people with lived experience, some listed authorities ask for further guidance and clarity from the Scottish Government on what this means in practice, and what is expected.

Equality advocacy groups and some listed authorities feel that people with lived experience should be actively involved in shaping policies and practices rather than only being asked to provide feedback on policies and practices.

"The regulatory body is already in place to ensure that these standards are being upheld, however their effectiveness is questionable as many listed authorities do not fulfil their statutory obligations. Therefore, providing resources to aid existing organisations/departments who have the expertise and legality to enforce, train and support listed authorities to develop effective assessments would be helpful. These resources could be in the form of people with lived and professional experiences."

Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland

Theme 4: Greater enforcement to improve compliance

A few equality advocacy groups and other bodies call for greater enforcement of Regulation 5: 'Duty to assess and review policies and practices' or a stronger approach to improve compliance among listed authorities. Some respondents suggest a dedicated officer (as described above) could help support this to happen.

"The quality of EqIA should be incorporated in performance management frameworks. Engender also advocates for creation of a Scottish Government EqIA review panel, with the authority to compel EqIA to be revisited within the policymaking process. This would allow wider expertise to be brought to bear more effectively within the process and allow concerns to be identified and resolved within a timescale that is compatible with policymaking. Once established, coverage for listed authorities could be explored."

Engender

7.4 Question 4.3 – Current Scope of Policies

What are your views on the current scope of policies that should be assessed and reviewed under regulation 5?

Circa 85% of respondents answered Question 4.3. The main themes across consultation responses are outlined below.

Theme 1: Mixed views on current scope

Responses to the consultation are relatively mixed on the current scope of policies that should be assessed and reviewed under regulation 5.

On the one hand there is feedback from some respondents that the current scope is "too broad" or "very wide" (e.g. "covers all policies and practices", "often interpreted as everything we do", "has resulted in considerable variation on the ground"). Some go onto suggest that the scope could be narrowed.

"The revised Fairer Scotland Duty guidance provides a comprehensive definition of where the duty applies. We would ask that Scottish Government provide a similarly comprehensive definition for the PSED and that this aligns where possible to allow for integrated impact assessments".

East Renfrewshire Council

Some respondents consider there to be a lack of clarity and uncertainty surrounding the current scope regarding which policies should be assessed and reviewed under regulation 5. These respondents request further clarification to be provided by the Scottish Government as to what level an EqIA might be required at.

On the other hand, there is feedback from respondents who are "supportive" of the current scope of policies that should be assessed and reviewed under regulation 5. These respondents typically note that the current scope is "appropriate", "reasonable", or "sufficient". This is, however, often followed by comments that express support for a "proportionate approach" and for EqIA to become "an integral part of policy development or renewal…to encourage the mindset of equalities and embed it more in everything that we do".

"The inclusion of strategies as well as new or revised policies and practices seems a sensible approach. Any policies/practices developed at speed should have a requirement to bring forward the review period as quickly as possible to ensure people from a protected group are not being disproportionately affected by the policy or to seek suggestions where improvements could be made".

Tayside NHS Board

"We believe that this should be applied as widely as possible against a broad range of areas. It needs to cover operations as you can have the best strategic policy/intentions but how things are implemented on the ground can negatively impact on individuals".

Women's Support Group

Theme 2: A relevant and proportionate approach

Support is expressed by most respondents for retaining flexible, pragmatic, and proportionate arrangements – "this is vital to ensuring meaningful and effective assessment is undertaken which adds value and focuses resources and engagement on the right priorities".

"We feel that the policies to be assessed should be at the discretion of the organisation, as they are best place to decide which are likely to impact (negatively or positively) on PSED".

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

There is wide reference across consultation responses to the following wording in the proposal - "The extent to which policies should be subject to assessment will depend on questions of relevance and proportionality".

Many respondents feel there requires to be further clarification and guidance provided by the Scottish Government regarding the definition of "relevance and proportionality" in this context. It is reported that this would help ensure a clear and shared understanding among listed authorities on what is expected.

Theme 3: Clearer definitions and language

There are many comments from respondents that asked for clear definitions of terms used in the Scottish Government proposal relating to the current scope of policies that should be assessed and reviewed under regulation 5. For example:

  • Clear definitions of what 'policy' and 'practice' means in the context of the legislation, as this is viewed as a "catch all term" from many areas across organisations. "Language is sometimes used loosely, and some terms are used interchangeably"
  • Examples and further clarity on the terms 'relevant and proportionate' – some respondents feel this is "open to considerable interpretation".
  • The 'concept of reasonable adjustment' would also need to be established.
  • The requirement to assess existing policies as well as new or revised policies could be clearer. For example, The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) suggest that compliance could potentially be strengthened by amending the SSD to "require publication of a schedule of equality impact assessments to be completed over each cycle, as required under the previous Race Equality Duty".

It is suggested that clearer definitions and improved guidance (alongside examples of best practice and case studies) would help ensure that decisions on whether or not to assess/review policies is less subjective and would encourage a "consistent quality standard" for EqIA.

Theme 4: Improved guidance and additional support

A common theme to emerge from the consultation responses is a request for clear, detailed, robust, and practical guidance to be provided by the Scottish Government to create a framework for applying EqIA in a meaningful and impactful way, and to help determine what to assess and the scope of the assessment.

"There should be a clearer indication of the expected scope within any guidance – this is an aspect where a more prescriptive approach might be helpful. To an extend the approach in the Fairer Scotland guidance may be helpful, but with additional detail".

Highland Council

"The guidance needs to be clearer and more practical in providing some criteria or examples of what may or may not need a detailed assessment. Without this, either everything will be assessed but in a light touch way or things will be missed".

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

"Funded training or access to support would assist organisations with limited resources".

Glasgow Kelvin College

"The Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have provided useful guidance on developing a screening process which ensures decisions on whether to undertake an impact assessment are "rational and informed by appropriate evidence".

The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)

Theme 5: Accountability

Where mentioned by respondents, support is expressed that EqIA publication and accountability should be retained and monitored.

"If stronger messaging and accountability were to be enforced through the Scottish Government, there would be shift in attitudes towards protected characteristics.

Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland

"Clear cycle for completion / publication and reporting back to Government".

The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

Contact

Email: MainstreamingEIHR@gov.scot

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