Scotland and the sustainable development goals: a national review to drive action

This review provides a statement of our pre-COVID-19 ambition on driving progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland. It brings together evidence, actions and stories of how we are making progress to meet the Goals.

10 Reduced Inequalities

  • Human Rights
  • Fair Work and Business
  • Culture
  • Health
  • Education
  • Children
  • International
  • Communities
  • Economy
  • Poverty

Scotland has a long and proud tradition of challenging disadvantage, discrimination and inequality wherever it occurs. We share a commitment to equality and to ensuring that we do all that we can to open up opportunity by delivering a strong, sustainable economy and supporting a fairer society. These commitments go hand in hand and are underpinned by our collective desire to create opportunities and to take action where barriers exist.

The 2018 review of Scotland’s NPF provided an opportunity to reword Scotland’s Purpose statement to better reflect the new National Outcomes and inclusive growth, which is also part of Scotland’s Economic Strategy. Review participants asked for a simpler Purpose statement that is inclusive beyond government and public services, which gives equal prominence to economic, environmental and social progress, and which focusses on reducing inequalities.

The NPF therefore articulates Scotland’s purpose as:

‘To focus on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increased wellbeing and sustainable and inclusive economic growth”.

The economy is important, but it is only considered to be one means by which our Purpose can be achieved. In Scotland, regional inclusive growth is addressed at a spatial level through investment in City Region and Growth Deals. From these deals, Regional Economic Partnerships are being created to keep a range of actors (public, private, third and education/skills sectors) working together to identify regional plans to promote inclusive economic growth.

The review of the NPF also introduced an Outcome relating to the Human Rights:

‘We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination’

Scotland is part of a group of Wellbeing Economy Governments - an initiative that seeks to promote policy innovations, expertise and best practice among countries with a shared ambition of championing a wellbeing economy for their citizens and the environment. Please see Goal 8 for more information on this.

Building on policies and legislation already in place, the Scottish Government has introduced measures to strengthen provision and to help advance equality. For example, the Scottish Government has funded commitments to pay the living wage (Goal 8); removed the public sector pay cap; expanded early learning and childcare and free school meals for children from p1-3 (Goal 4); and produced a delivery plan to eradicate child poverty (Goal 1). We have invested to improve educational attainment for those living in less advantaged communities (Goal 4) and maintained concessionary fares and passes on public transport (Goal 11). We have also used our new powers to establish a Social Security Agency and an employability programme that have dignity and respect at their heart (Goal 1, and 8) while mitigating, where we can, the impact of the UK government’s welfare agenda. Leave-no-one behind is central to the 2030 Agenda and therefore links to all other Goals. For greater detail on action to tackle poverty please see the chapter on Goal 1.

Equality and discrimination legislation (targets 10.2 and 10.3)

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination (direct or indirect), harassment or victimisation of anyone who shares one or more of the protected characteristics listed in the Act (that is: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or, sexual orientation). Section 149 of the Act places a duty (known as the Public Sector Equality Duty, or PSED) on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and promote good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Although the Equality Act 2010 is largely reserved to the UK Government, application of the public sector equality duty is devolved. Therefore Scottish Ministers have supplemented the general duty (PSED) by placing detailed requirements on Scottish public authorities through the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012.

The 2012 Regulations are aimed at supporting the bulk of Scottish public authorities to improve implementation of the PSED by requiring them to: report progress on mainstreaming equalities; propose and publish equality outcomes; assess policies and practices from the perspective of equalities; and publish employee information on pay and occupational segregation. In Scotland there is both non-statutory guidance and technical guidance on the Public Sector Equality Duty for public bodies. Enforcement and compliance are matters for the courts and for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). EHRC is independent and cannot be directed by Scottish Ministers. As it is a reserved public body its powers cannot be changed by the Scottish Parliament.

Equality at work (targets 10.1, 10.2, 10.3 and 10.4)

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants and existing workers because of a protected characteristic. Legislation covers direct and indirect discrimination, as well as discrimination by association or perception. Failing to offer a job applicant a position because of a protected characteristic amounts to direct discrimination. Employers also need to take care not to apply criteria and conditions to job requirements and the recruitment process that may result in unjustifiable indirect discrimination against job applicants. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also published recruitment guidance for employers.

The Workplace Equality Fund has delivered employer led innovative solutions to overcome workforce and workplace inequality in Scotland. The Fund has a key focus on supporting older workers, women, disabled people, and those from a minority ethnic background. The Scottish Government recently funded 22 projects with a collective £750,000 of funding. One project involved a collaboration between the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Marriott Hotel Group. Together they recently launched a toolkit aimed at helping employers support workers with sight loss.

The Scottish Government will shortly launch our expanded Workplace Equality Fund, which will now also aim to provide support for workers transitioning through the menopause, victims of domestic abuse, and actions for tackling social isolation and loneliness. It will also seek to encourage businesses with innovative projects to embed fair work dimensions in the workplace.

Race equality in Scotland

Our vision is that in 2030 Scotland is a place where people are healthier, happier and treated with respect, and where opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally. Results from the 2011 Census in Scotland show that Scotland is becoming more ethnically diverse, with an increasing number of people who live in Scotland being born outside of the UK. The emergence of an increasingly multi ethnic population enriches our culture, providing opportunities to mix together new influences with old, creating a more diverse Scotland and helping ensure that our dynamic, progressive country continues to evolve.

The Race Equality Framework for Scotland sets out how we aim to progress this ambition over a 15-year period from 2016 to 2030. A variety of engagement activities were used throughout the development of the Framework to ensure that a wide range of organisations and individuals, from grassroots community organisations to practitioners working in the public sector, had an active role in contributing. As a result, each of the six themed Visions and related Goals set out in the Framework have been shaped by this involvement process.

Closer Look - Kindness

Carnegie UK Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have assembled a body of evidence around the role of kindness in tackling isolation and loneliness in society, which informed the Our Vales statement in the new NPF.

They recently published a report, “Quantifying kindness, public engagement and place”, presenting findings from the first ever quantitative survey on kindness in communities and public services. The data reveals a reassuring and yet complex picture of kindness in the UK and Ireland, with generally high levels of kindness reported, but at the same time variations in experiences between jurisdictions and across social groups.

Carnegie UK Trust is currently coordinating two projects that seek to address these challenges and complexities, and to encourage a shift in focus. The Kindness Innovation Network and Kindness in North Ayrshire are two parallel networks of professionals and people, which are developing ideas and delivering small tests of change to encourage kindness in local and national government, in organisations and public services, and in communities.

Inequality and public sector service reform (target 10.3)

Scotland’s wider approach to public service reform is built on a recognition that inequalities tend to affect people, households and communities in complex and inter-connected ways and therefore, we utilise “whole system” approaches across agencies, built on an understanding of our people and communities to address this. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 gives community planning a statutory purpose focused on improving outcomes and tackling inequalities of outcome on locally identified priorities, including in places where communities experience the poorest outcomes. Each Community Planning Partnership has in place an agreed Local Outcome Improvement Plan, prioritising themes that are fundamental to people’s wellbeing and focusing on reducing inequality and improving outcomes for those most disadvantaged communities. These plans might typically include: inclusive growth and improving employment prospects; positive physical and mental health; children’s wellbeing, and sustaining fragile communities. Each plan is addressing such priorities in a way that is shaped around distinctive local circumstances in Scotland.

Equality budget statement (target 10.3)

We are now in the tenth year of publishing an Equality Budget Statement (EBS) alongside the Scottish Budget to highlight the consistent commitment of the Scottish Government to examining the impact of the Scottish Budget on the diversity of Scotland’s population. This approach supports our ambition for a fairer Scotland; an approach which is recognised as progressive and inclusive. We are not complacent. There is room for improvement in equality and human rights budgeting processes and we are committed to continuing to improve our understanding of inequality of outcomes within the limits of technical feasibility and practical resource implications.

The Equality Budget Advisory Group (EBAG) has supported the Scottish Government’s efforts to bring equality considerations into budget preparations since the early years of devolution. During 2017, the EBAG was represented on the Scottish Parliament’s Budget Process Review Group (BPRG), discussing the implications of proposed changes on the equality assessment of the Scottish Budget. In summer 2018, Ministers decided that EBAG would benefit from having an independent external chair who could offer additional challenge. In September 2018, Dr Angela O’Hagan was announced as the chair of the group and a work plan was developed and agreed. EBAG has been tasked with working with the Scottish Government to improve equality assessment and to help them identify the range of products that could be provided to improve articulation of the budget over time. In 2018, the Equalities and Human Rights Committee asked for human rights budgeting to be specifically included as part of EBAG’s remit, and the Scottish Human Rights Commission was invited onto EBAG to provide this expertise moving forward.

Taxation (target 10.4)

The Scottish approach to Taxation is founded on four principles of efficiency, convenience, certainty and proportionality to the ability to pay. The Scottish Government has applied these principles to implementing and developing tax policy, taking a progressive approach that reduces inequality.

The Council Tax Reduction scheme, funded in full by the Scottish Government, provides reductions of up to 100%. Council tax reductions depend on individual means, circumstances and need, to the Council Tax liabilities of around 500,000 households in Scotland. It therefore ensures that those households who would otherwise struggle to pay their full Council Tax are instead only required to pay what they can afford. The scheme takes particular account of household circumstances, including unemployment, disability, caring commitments and the number of children, and it does not cap the number of children (see also Goal 1).

The Scotland Act 2016 gave the Scottish Parliament powers to set the rates and bands for income tax paid by Scottish taxpayers. The Scottish Government will continue to use its additional powers over income tax in a progressive way that protects low income taxpayers and provides additional revenue to invest in high-quality public services. The impact of income tax policy is limited to those who are in receipt of a taxable income. In Scotland, there were almost two million adults in 2018-19 with no income tax liabilities as their income was below the Personal Allowance of £11,850 – this is over 40% of the 16+ population. This percentage is likely to increase slightly following the UK Chancellor’s decision to raise the Personal Allowance significantly to £12,500 in 2019-20. Ongoing work on the Living Wage and Equal pay within by the Scottish Government may lift more people into the tax base (see Goal 5 and Goal 8). Even with further new income tax powers, the Scottish Government has limited powers to define the tax base or adjust tax reliefs, and National Insurance remains reserved to the UK Government.

Target 10.5 asks us to improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations. While this falls outside the competency of Scottish Government, please see Goal 8 for action in Scotland to promote ethical finance. Similarly, Targets 10.6, 10a are largely outwith devolved competence. target 10b is addressed in Goal 17.

Fairer Scotland Action Plan (targets 10.2 and 10.3)

In 2015, we launched a nation-wide Fairer Scotland conversation. Our intention was to speak to as many people as possible – through events, online and in person - to hear first-hand the issues that matter to our people and how we can become a Fairer Scotland by 2030. At the very outset of this journey, we committed to having an open and transparent discussion and to ensuring that everyone’s voice was listened to and heard.

Over 7,000 people took part in Fairer Scotland public events and locally organised discussions. Even more engaged online, with the number of visitors to social media platforms edging towards 17,500. This consultation exercise was further analysed to inform Scotland’s new National Outcomes.

Following this engagement, the Scottish Government launched the Fairer Scotland Action Plan in 2016 that aims to help build a better country - one with low levels of poverty and inequality, genuine equality of opportunity, stronger life chances, and support for all those who need it. The Action Plan is built on five high-level ambitions that will be focused on until 2030. They are:

  • A Fairer Scotland for All
  • Ending Child Poverty
  • Strong Start for Young People
  • Fairer Working Lives
  • A Thriving Third Age

At the heart of the Plan are 50 fairness actions for the current parliamentary term that will help us meet these ambitions, ranging across the responsibilities of government. The Action Plan features commitments from a range of organisations from across the UK who want to help us build a Fairer Scotland and is the start of a long term commitment to help shape a fairer Scotland.

For action to meet target 10.1 see specifically Goal 1 on child poverty and Goal 8 on employability.

The Data Picture: Inequality

Target 10.1 is to progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average.

Income inequality is broadly stable. The total household income of the top ten percent of the population had 24% more income compared to the bottom forty percent in 2016-19. This compares to 27%, 24% and 21% more income in the previous periods.

Line chart showing the Palma ratio (the income share of the top 10% of the population divided by the income share of the bottom 40%), expressed as a percentage. There is a gradual rise in inequality, with the ratio at 114 in 2012-15, and rising to 127 in 2015-18, before falling slightly to 124 in 2016-19.

Income share of the top 10% of the population in Scotland divided by income share of the bottom 40% (Palma ratio) expressed as a percentage

Source: Family Resources Survey

Promotion of the Fairer Scotland Duty

The Fairer Scotland Duty (FSD), introduced in April 2018, is a mandatory assessment for the Scottish Government, Local Authorities and a range of other public bodies. It requires those bodies to consider actively (on the basis of evidence) how inequalities of outcome arising from socio-economic disadvantage could be reduced when making ‘strategic decisions’. The Office of the Chief Social Policy Adviser in Scotland has been working with a range of policy areas to test out approaches to meeting the Fairer Scotland Duty and has recently become the policy lead for this duty. The duty has the potential to begin to address some of the deep seated inequalities of outcome that exist across areas such as health, education and employment (see Goal 1).

Migration and asylum and refugee integration in Scotland (targets 10.2, 10.7 and 10c)

Immigration is reserved to the UK Government, although the Scottish Government has set out its views on how it believes the UK Government should frame migration policy by adopting a more open and welcoming approach, including in a February 2018 discussion paper. A particular focus in recent years has been supporting EU citizens who face uncertainty and potential disruption as a result of the vote across the UK to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum. This has included funding an additional advice service delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland, and significant outreach and marketing activity to ensure EU citizens who have made Scotland their home are reassured that they are welcome here, and are directed to the available support they may need to help apply to guarantee their immigration status.

Scotland has also become home to people from all over the world seeking safety and anyone who seeks asylum here in Scotland should be welcomed and supported to integrate into our communities from day one. When refugees and asylum seekers arrive, they need understanding, support and hope for their future; and children should be able to be children, whether they arrive with their family or on their own. Scottish local authorities have led the way in the UK in refugee resettlement, and since 2015 COSLA has worked with all 32 local authorities to support the resettlement of over 2700 refugees across Scotland as part of our participation in the Syrian Resettlement Programme. This work is supported by the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy which was jointly developed by COSLA, the Scottish Refugee Council and the Scottish Government.

In 2018,the second New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy was published. This was developed in partnership with COSLA, the Scottish Refugee Council and Scottish Government. The views of more than 2,000 asylum seekers and refugees were heard during the consultation process. The outcomes and actions that the strategy seeks to deliver are grounded in an approach that places refugees and asylum seekers at the heart of the communities in which they reside. As such, it recognises that, for approaches to integration to succeed, they must be about working in and with local communities, as well as with refugees and asylum seekers.

Fair Start Scotland

To mitigate the drastic reduction in UK funding for employment programmes, Scottish Ministers have committed an additional £20 million above UK Government funding in each year of Parliament to support Fair Start Scotland – committing up to £96 million overall. As part of Scotland’s inclusive economic growth we are developing a system that will enable people to gain recognition for their skills and experience, regardless of the context/county in which they were gained. The Scottish Government is also funding a recognition of prior qualifications, skills and learning pilot project being led by a key stakeholder group to explore processes for recognition with a focus on migrants who have come to live in Scotland.

Tackling hate crime (target 10.3)

Hate crime and prejudice threatens community cohesion and has a corrosive impact on Scotland’s communities as well as broader society. It is never acceptable and we are committed to tackling it. In June 2017, we published our Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities Action Plan – our ambitious programme of work to tackle hate crime and build community cohesion. We have established an Action Group chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities with key stakeholders to take this work forward. The Action Group has prioritised work on under reporting, third party reporting, hate crime data and campaign activity.

Within the Action Plan, Scottish Government committed to develop a public awareness campaign and in October 2017 we ran our six week ‘Hate Has No Home in Scotland’ campaign. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of what hate crime is and encourage both victims and witnesses to report it. The campaign evaluation was positive and showed that it was particularly successful among those who have experienced hate crime. On 26 September 2018 a hate crime campaign was launched by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Cabinet Secretary for Justice in partnership with Police Scotland. It aimed to encourage witnesses to report hate crime.

The Scottish Government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. Adoption of the IHRA definition reflects the value we place on tackling anti-Semitism and on ensuring people in Scotland feel valued and have a sense of belonging.

The Data Picture: Hate crimes

Target 10.3 (Indicator 10.3.1): Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.

Racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime. There were 2,880 charges reported in 2018-19, with a decreasing trend in recent years.

Trends in hate crime charges reported

Source: Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service

Poverty and Inequality Commission (target 10.3)

The Poverty and Inequality Commission was initially established by Scottish Ministers in July 2017. In July 2019, a statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission was established through the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act. The Commission’s main role is to provide independent advice to Scottish Ministers on reducing poverty and inequality in Scotland and to scrutinise the progress that is being made. Specifically it will:

  • Have a strong focus on child poverty, providing advice to Scottish Ministers on Child Poverty Delivery Plans and commenting on annual progress towards the child poverty targets
  • Have a strong scrutiny role in monitoring progress towards reducing poverty and inequality and advise Scottish Ministers on any matter relating to poverty or inequality in Scotland, including the impact of policies and the use of resources in reducing poverty and inequality
  • Have scope to develop its own work programme to promote the reduction of poverty and inequality in Scotland

Reducing health inequalities (target 10.3)

Reducing health inequalities is one of the biggest challenges facing Scotland as such inequity is a symptom of wider social inequalities. The focus is on those communities showing consequential poorer health outcomes, primarily those most deprived. Scotland is singled out by Cancer Research UK as the only part of the UK where our targeted approach to smoking cessation is helping to reduce inequalities, and the most deprived communities benefit from the healthier environments produced across Scotland by preventative measures such as Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol. Further population health improvements will be achieved through an increase of £20 million per annum to support alcohol and drug treatment.

The Family Nurse Partnership programme has now been rolled out across mainland Scotland for all eligible young women. The focus on young, pregnant women targets families who are likely to be most disadvantaged. Over the past nine years, more than 6,000 families have benefited from this support, many for the full duration of 2.5 years. Levels of vulnerability within this cohort are very high and complex, and the intensive, ongoing support is highly valued (see Goal 3).

Key areas of investment as part of the Scottish Budget 2019-20 include ongoing support for breastfeeding, with the latest statistics showing a reduction in inequalities with increased breastfeeding rates in the most deprived areas. The forthcoming introduction of Best Start Foods to provide financial support for purchasing specified healthy foods, aimed at pregnant women and families with young children on low incomes; and the full implementation of the Universal Health Visitor Pathway, which includes routine enquiry on household income from health visitors or family nurses allowing families the opportunity to maximise their income and be signposted to appropriate services. To support and maximise the role and impact of Health Visitors, the Scottish Government has made a significant investment of over £42 million of phased funding for recruitment and training.

In 2019-20 we are investing in implementation of the new GP contract and wider primary care reform, which will focus GP time on complex care. Individuals living in deprived communities exhibit higher comorbidity and premature mortality; this focus will mean better management of patients in need of additional clinical support. Investment and activity by Sport Scotland in 2019-20 is adding resources and support to Community Sports Hubs with greater targeting to areas of deprivation. This is helping sports governing bodies and local authorities to increase physical activity levels of the least active, who are over-represented among socially disadvantaged communities. Attracting and retaining the right people, and raising the status of social care as a profession, is key to delivering quality care. Scottish Government funding continues to enable adult social care workers to be paid the Scottish Living Wage, a move that has benefited up to 40,000 care workers – mostly women – and is now being extended to sleepovers.

In 2018, the Scottish Government published a range of health strategies all of which had a focus on reducing health inequalities (see Goal 3):

  • Scotland’s Tobacco Action Plan focuses on addressing health inequalities and targeting smoking rates in the communities where people find it most difficult to quit
  • Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan sets out our vision for everyone in Scotland to eat well and have a healthy weight (see Goal 2)
  • Active Scotland Delivery Plan sets out the 90 practical actions the Scottish Government and its delivery partners are taking to support and encourage everyone in Scotland to be physically active – it aims to cut physical inactivity in adults and teenagers by 15% by 2030
  • Our Alcohol and Drug Treatment Strategy looks at ways to improve health by preventing and reducing alcohol and drug use, harm and related deaths
  • The Alcohol Framework sets out bold measures to prevent alcohol-related harm, including reviewing the minimum unit price and our plans for restrictions on alcohol advertising

The prison population experiences high levels of severe, multiple deprivation, including health inequalities. The Scottish Government has established a new Scottish Prison Care Network and published a Prison Health Information Dashboard. In 2019, it is beginning to test new approaches in delivering integrated social care which will improve the services provided to people in custody, helping them to rehabilitate and return to their communities when they are released.

Social isolation and loneliness (target 10.2)

Scotland is proud to be one of the first countries in the world to publish a national strategy on social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation can affect anyone at any point in their life, and the Government has an important role to play in tackling this issue. A Connected Scotland was launched by the Scottish Government in December 2018 – a national strategy to tackle social isolation and loneliness and build social connections. An additional £1 million funding is available over the next 2 years to back our commitments and pilot innovative approaches. A Ministerial Steering Group, chaired by the Minister for Older people and Equalities will drive Scottish Government cross portfolio work and oversight of the strategy. In developing this approach, the government will continue to engage with a range of stakeholders including the recently established Action Group on Isolation and Loneliness. Progress on the national strategy will be reported every 2 years between now and 2026.

For action on target 10b please see Goal 17.

Challenges and next steps


Scotland is recognised as one of the most progressive countries in Europe on LGBTI rights. We were the first country in the UK to consult on introducing same sex marriage, with the Parliament passing the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. But we recognise the particular disadvantage experienced by trans people across many walks of life and are supportive of all measures to increase inclusion in schools for pupils and staff alike. A 2017 study by LGBT Youth Scotland of more than 600 LGBT young people in Scotland showed that:

  • 82% of transgender young people surveyed had experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying in school
  • 63% of LGBT young people surveyed who had experienced bullying believed that it had negatively impacted on their education
  • 27% of transgender young people surveyed left education as a result of homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia in the learning environment

It is paramount we continue efforts to tackle all forms of prejudice, including any linked to gender identity. Scotland is on its way to becoming the first country in the world to have lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusive education embedded in the curriculum.

Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential and it is vital that the curriculum is as diverse as the young people who learn in our schools. The guidance is one of a range of tools available to schools and education authorities in their support for transgender pupils.

Work is continuing to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to ensure that the process for trans people to access a gender recognition certificate is in line with international best practice. The Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Equalities, Shirley-Anne Somerville, announced in the Scottish Parliament on 20 June that the Scottish Government will publish a draft Gender Recognition (Scotland) Bill later this year, with the bill being formally introduced to Parliament after that consultation.


In December 2016 we launched a Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Our Delivery Plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The plan represents the culmination of over two years of detailed discussion, negotiation and co-production with disabled people’s organisations and with individual disabled people. Implementation of the plan is now under way across Government, and our partnership with the sector will continue as we drive forward the specific actions which have been identified.

Over a million disabled people contribute to Scotland’s communities and add talent, diversity and richness to our society. Yet so many people are still unable to make their contribution or live their lives as they would want because of the barriers in their way. Our homes, transport, workplaces, public services and our local environments are all too often designed or operated in ways that can exclude disabled people. Inaccessible communication, negative attitudes, low expectations, discrimination and inequality impact in ways which interact and affect the chances of disabled people - even to have social connections and human interaction.

We are already taking steps to address these barriers. Fair Start Scotland, which commenced in April 2018, is providing support to disabled people to find work and treating them with fairness, dignity and respect. More effective integration of employment support and services is also key. In No One Left Behind: Next steps for employability support (2018) we have set out actions we will take towards achieving this and, in so doing, improve support for disabled people to enter, stay and progress in work. We will invest £6 million in employment support for disabled people – complimenting and enhancing the support offered through fair start; all contributing towards reaching our ambition to half the disability related employment gap.

But there is far more to do. The Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Action Plan outlines the next steps we will take to work across government, with employers and other partners to meet our ambition to halve the disability employment gap. It also sets out the timescales for doing so. To realise the ambition will require collective leadership and action across public, private, and third sectors. A new Partnership Working Framework in Employability has been agreed with COSLA, which will help facilitate this. For our wider approach to social security, and our offering for the enhanced Carer’s Allowance please see Goal 1 chapter.

Working in partnership has helped us to achieve a lot more than we could have done individually. Engagement with and involvement of refugees and people seeking asylum is vital, but can be difficult to achieve on a consistent basis. An Anti-destitution strategy is being developed to support action to mitigate destitution among people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) to be published in 2019.

We will continue to work to implement the actions within our Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities Action Plan and we will publish an update on progress in 2020. In 2019, Public Health Scotland will be established to deliver on Scotland’s public health priorities. It will build on the work of NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Public Health Observatory to focus the whole system on factors which have the greatest impact on healthy life expectancy and to help reduce the deep and persistent inequalities in health.

Building on the Race Equality Framework published in March 2016, the Scottish Government published the Race Equality Action Plan and Highlight Report in December 2017 outlining more than 120 actions to secure better outcomes for ethnic minorities in Scotland. At the first annual Race Equality Action Plan Conference in December 2018, the Minister for Older People and Equalities met with key stakeholders and gave the keynote address highlighting the work that has been done so far as well as the areas for continued development. As part of the Action Plan, in recognition of the multiple barriers experienced by Gypsy Travellers, a Ministerial working group is focusing on the four key areas of accommodation, education, poverty and health. A set of draft actions will be published in spring 2019, and following consultation, the Scottish Government will publish a firm set of commitments that are to be delivered before May 2021.

Commitments in the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 Programme for Government that relate to this Goal

  • Providing a further £380,000 to the Poverty Alliance to continue their work with employers to make sure more people are paid the real Living Wage
  • Making funding available so the real Living Wage can be paid to all workers delivering funded early learning and childcare hours from August 2020
  • Review what more Fair Start Scotland can do to support more people from minority ethnic communities into work
  • Invest up to £1 million in a new Public Social Partnership to address barriers faced in recruiting and retaining disabled people and invest up to £500,000 to help disabled people undertake work experience
  • Recommendations to embed LGBTI inclusive education within our school curriculum are being implemented and changes will be made to Scotland’s Census processes where optional questions on transgender status will be asked on a voluntary basis for the first time
  • Consult on the detail of a draft Gender Recognition Bill by the end of this year, setting out proposals for reform and how this will bring Scotland in line with international best practice
  • Establish an Inclusive Scotland Fund to support a number of local areas to involve people with lived experience of severe, multiple disadvantage in developing whole system approaches to improve outcomes
  • Publish a new Health and Social Care Strategy for Prisons over the coming year



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