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.
8 Proposal 5
A new equality outcome setting process
The Scottish Government propose to take on board the suggestions for the Scottish Government to take on more of a leadership role in setting national equality outcomes, which listed authorities could then adopt to meet their own equality outcome setting duty. If a listed authority chose not to adopt the national equality outcomes, they would still be required to set their own equality outcomes. This would require the Scottish Government to:
- Set national equality outcomes, taking a collaborative approach to ensure that outcomes are pertinent to the ambitions of relevant listed authorities.
- Ensure the national equality outcomes are measurable and link to the National Performance Framework (NPF).
- Involve people with lived experience, and work with the organisations who represent them, when developing national equality outcomes, providing information on how they have taken account of that involvement in their development.
Listed authorities would retain scope to set their own equality outcomes, and in this event, they too would be obliged to involve people with lived experience, or the organisations who represent them, when developing their equality outcomes, and to provide information on how they have taken account of that involvement in their development. Listed authorities would also be required to ensure their outcomes link to the NPF. Whether listed authorities decide to use national equality outcomes, or set their own, as per the first proposal set out in the Consultation Paper, they would be required to set out how they plan to meet the equality outcomes, then to subsequently report on how they have progressed towards achieving them.
8.2 Question 5.1 – National Equality Outcomes
What are your views on our proposal for the Scottish Government to set national equality outcomes, which listed authorities could adopt to meet their own equality outcome setting duty?
Almost all respondents answered Question 5.1 (93%). While some respondents did express reservation about the proposal, they are generally supportive of the proposal in principle.
8.2.1 Respondents who support the proposal
The main themes to emerge in support of the proposal for the Scottish Government to set national equality outcomes, which listed authorities could adopt to meet their own equality outcome setting duty, are outlined below.
Theme 1: Flexibility is important
Many respondents (e.g. listed authorities, some equality advocacy groups) welcome the proposal that listed authorities are free to choose whether they adopt national equality outcomes or can set their own. These respondents note that a one-size-fits all approach would not be appropriate, given the diversity of listed authorities. These respondents highlight three broad concerns with a one-size-fits all approach:
- The public sector in Scotland has a wide array of functions and relevant equality outcomes for health organisations may differ drastically from, for example, transport organisations.
- Listed authorities differ greatly in size, and the proposal would need to be proportionate.
- Listed authorities may be better placed to set their own equality outcomes (e.g. knowledge and expertise in this area, strong understanding of the local context).
Theme 2: Comparability and benchmarking
A common theme to emerge from the consultation responses is that the setting of national equality outcomes for listed authorities could ensure a more consistent and aligned approach, as well as provide an opportunity to compare and benchmark data, including trend analysis.
Wider feedback from respondents is that the provision of an equality outcome framework would provide listed authorities with specific examples of equality outcomes – and that this may be particularly helpful and beneficial for smaller listed authorities that may lack the necessary expertise and/or resource to set their own equality outcomes.
Theme 3: Opportunity for partnership working
A few listed authorities and an equality advocacy group note that the development of national equality outcomes could provide opportunities for additional partnership working.
For example, they suggest that the process may encourage listed authorities who operate in similar geographies and/or who engage with similar client groups to undertake further collaboration and partnership working with others in the setting of equality outcomes.
8.2.2 Respondents who raise issues or concerns
Some respondents, generally those who support the proposal, caveat their response or raise some concerns. The main themes to emerge from these consultation responses are summarised below.
Theme 1: Monitoring and enforcement
The first concern, almost exclusively raised by a small number of equality advocacy groups, is that the setting of national equality outcomes would need to be accompanied by improved monitoring arrangements. Further, a question raised by these respondents relates to how compliance with the proposal would be enforced.
Theme 2: SMART outcomes
A few respondents, mainly listed authorities, express support for any national equality outcomes to be SMART (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). They note that this would help to monitor progress and drive change/improvement.
8.2.3 Respondents who do not support the proposal
A small number of larger listed authorities do not support the proposal, albeit they would welcome relevant guidance and good practice examples from the Scottish Government. These listed authorities express strong support for listed authorities to be able to set their own equality outcomes, rather than a top-down or centralised approach.
Other concerns noted by individual respondents include:
- Listed organisations should not be able to opt out of using national equality outcomes.
- The proposal may lead to increased bureaucracy.
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