Scotland's equality evidence strategy 2017-2021

Describes the Scottish Government’s approach to strengthening Scotland’s equality evidence base.

This document is part of a collection

8.Protected Characteristics and Evidence Gaps

8.1 Introduction

The following section of this equality evidence strategy sets out the evidence gaps identified across the protected characteristics by the Scottish Government's internal policy makers and external partners. It details a range of evidence gaps, drawing on what was communicated during our conversations, but does not attempt at this stage to prioritise these, assess feasibility or set specific projects aimed at filling these gaps.

The prioritisation of evidence gaps will be developed at a further stage and the Scottish Government aims where possible to work collaboratively with its partners. During this process the methods described in Diagram 1 will be used to further explore the benefits of filling the gap in an attempt to establish priorities.

8.2 Race and Ethnicity

The Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030 [40] ( REF) sets out the Scottish Government's approach to promoting race equality and tackling racism and racial inequality between 2016 and 2030. The Framework is based on the priorities, needs and experiences of Scotland's minority ethnic communities, with expertise contributed by the public and voluntary sectors and academia to ensure that the Framework is practical and deliverable; and to create measurable progress on race equality. The strengthening of data and evidence on race equality will be an important part of ensuring progress on the Framework in the long term and in the delivery of the more immediate actions that flow from it and the work of the Race Equality Advisor.

Race Equality Framework For Scotland

The Race Equality Framework for Scotland ( REF) was developed by the Scottish Government with support from the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights ( CRER). This partnership approach also involved the Scottish Government's race equality intermediaries, CEMVO Scotland and BEMIS, as well as EHRC, the Scottish Refugee Council and Interfaith Scotland. All of these organisations contributed to the initial scoping work on identifying key issues and initial themes and were engaged in various ways throughout the development of the Framework. Four evidence papers [41] were published by CRER alongside the framework in 2016, as a baseline of evidence at the time the REF was published.

This work has provided a strong platform on which to build the 'Race and Ethnicity' section of this equality evidence strategy, as it highlighted a range of analytical actions that required to be taken forward. These included:

  • Policy processes in Scotland are based on a robust range of data on ethnicity;
  • Work with public authorities to improve the gathering, monitoring and use of ethnic data in policy and practice;
  • Map information and data needs around self-employment and minority ethnic enterprise in order to better understand minority ethnic entrepreneurship to inform a programme of future activities;
  • Consider future approaches to gathering and reporting data on ethnicity in relation to social enterprises;
  • Consider the feasibility of collecting accurate ethnicity information on children within early learning and childcare as part of our current data transformation work;
  • Work with Health and Social Care Partnerships, NHS Scotland's Information Services Division ( ISD) and other stakeholders to develop cohesive, effective practice on improving approaches to gathering, collating and publishing ethnicity data on health and social care at a national level;
  • Work in partnership with the Scottish Housing Regulator and other stakeholders to make the best use of available housing data and research to identify issues affecting minority ethnic communities and promote race equality;

We also know that :

  • There is a lack of evidence on uptake of available support for business owners and entrepreneurs from minority ethnic communities, and whether the support on offer meets people's needs.
  • There is a lack of data on representation on local level structures however it is generally believed that representation is low in these structures too.

These issues are being considered with the assistance of equality analysts and analysts from other Scottish Government directorates.

Further Engagement with Partners on Evidence

Further to policy work to progress the REF, a round table event was held by the Scottish Government in February 2017. Key external partners and academics were invited to raise and highlight evidence gaps on ethnicity, building on the conversations held as part of the Race Equality Framework. Further gaps were identified and these are set out across the five main themes in the REF. It should be noted that these are set out below in no particular order of priority.


1. Workforce data from public sector organisations on employment outcomes for ethnic groups could help tackle disadvantage. Stakeholders suggested that organisations could be incentivised to collect meaningful data on ethnicity to tackle disadvantage, although stakeholders acknowledge that low disclosure rates, particularly for employees who had been in the organisation a long time, is a barrier to gaining good quality data. Some organisations, including the Scottish Government, have equality outcomes related to this which should help advance the quality of the data.

2. Ethnicity pay gap data could help identify areas for economic stimulus and assist employers with workforce planning. However, ethnicity data is not readily available from the Office for National Statistics ( ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings [42] ( ASHE), which is currently the main official data source for gender pay gap statistics.

3. It was also considered important that an equality dimension be included in procurement processes relating to employment, and evidence in this area should be improved.

4. Social Security take-up data by ethnic group was seen as a specific gap. Lack of social security data by ethnicity from UK Government sources was seen as an issue, and it was suggested that the devolution of new benefits to Scotland could provide an opportunity for ethnicity recording to be built into the systems.

5. Statistics on Positive Action schemes aimed at addressing disadvantage and under-representation of minority ethnic groups, and further research in this area, could show how these schemes are funded, how they work and how effective they are.

6. Intersectional analysis on employment rates would be very useful for stakeholders, in order to understand the impact of Brexit on migrant workers and help increase understanding of how the labour market is operating. Ethnicity data by some other protected characteristics would provide a more nuanced picture.


7. Qualitative research on the complex relationship between education, ethnicity and employment could supplement quantitative analysis as part of the Race Equality Framework (Action 19) which aims to examine outcomes for minority ethnic people transitioning from education to the labour market. Intersectional evidence, not just for minority ethnic groups, but on people who share protected characteristics would also be useful.

8. Data on harassment and prejudice based bullying in schools is an important evidence gap - this data and its quality is dependent on the extent and effectiveness with which Local Authorities and schools collect the data. The EHRC intend to continue to include bullying in schools as an indicator in their new Measurement Framework, and consistent recording of bullying data would allow for a national picture.

9. Free school meals and clothing grants data for minority ethnic pupils was seen by partners as an evidence gap - this data could be used for important socio-economic analysis.

10. Data on subject choice at school, along with career guidance data for minority ethnic pupils, would be a useful addition to the evidence base. It was thought that better evidence was required to check whether minority ethnic young people were attending the universities that best matched their qualifications and skills. Evidence of any discrimination in the admissions process would also be of value.

11. One of the actions (Action 14) within the Race Equality Framework looks at the barriers minority ethnic young people might face to accessing and remaining in learning. Feedback from stakeholder engagement events suggested that the Educational Maintenance Allowance ( EMA) system may have a number of barriers for minority ethnic young people, especially those who are recent migrants or refugees without leave to remain who will be unable to access payments due to residency criteria. Young minority ethnic people who meet the residency criteria or have been born in Scotland may also face barriers due to the requirement to have their own bank account. Promotion and awareness will need to take account of these barriers. However there is no current data collection to indicate minority uptake either way with the EMA programme. Local Authorities' and colleges have responsibility for drafting their own application forms and also receive funds annually from the Scottish Government to promote the programme locally within their areas.

Community Cohesion and Safety

12. Stakeholders noted that detailed statistics on racial harassment from Police Scotland ( PS) are not readily accessible, and the data is not published at a local level. Until recently, victims and complainers were classified as the same entity, however a new system is being introduced by PS where it will be important to measure the prevalence of hate crime.


13. Self-directed support [43] statistics disaggregated for minority ethnic groups was seen by partners to be a specific intersectional evidence gap. Self-directed support allows people, their carers and their families to make informed choices on what their support looks like and how it is delivered, making it possible to meet agreed personal outcomes.

14. Carers' statistics by ethnicity was considered by stakeholders to be an evidence gap and qualitative analysis in this area would also enhance the evidence base. Scottish Government health analysts are reviewing existing evidence on carers by ethnicity and sexual orientation in relation to implementation of the Carers Act and a short report is being prepared. It confirms a lack of evidence, and flags up definitional and contextual issues (e.g. cultural nuances in defining 'caring' & gender norms).

15. There was a call for analysis to correlate immigration status and individuals with no recourse to public funds who are in work. This is an area of reserved policy where the data sources are held by the UK Government which may mean it is difficult to fill. However the effect of no recourse to public funds and the impact on mental and physical wellbeing was still considered to be an important evidence gap to flag. A case study is available in the BEMIS Poverty and Ethnicity Report [44] .


16. Harassment of minority ethnic social housing tenants in deprived areas was perceived by stakeholders to be a problem, but there is a lack of data to evidence trends. More information was felt to be needed on the social housing landscape. Related to this, the Scottish Government recently published new statistics on the characteristics, including ethnicity, of social housing tenants. [45]

17.Analysis on the ethnicity of tenants in private rented housing was raised as an information gap and new evidence could be used to identify issues for minority ethnic groups in the private rented sector.

18. Hidden homelessness amongst different minority ethnic groups was seen to be a problem and there is a need for more analysis in this area. Ethnicity data within care homes was cited as a gap which could be explored with health and social care analysts.

19. Wheelchair adapted/accessible housing data - more information is needed to allow councils to monitor supply and demand of wheelchair and accessible housing by ethnicity in order to report on current and future levels of provision to inform their Housing Need and Demand Assessments ( HNDA) and Local Housing (Policy) Strategies ( LHS). This would need to include details for both social and private housing sectors and could be considered for inclusion in existing household surveys.

20. Telecare services data - stakeholders felt that more information is also needed to allow councils to monitor their services (for example telecare and handyperson) and report on current and future levels of provision for different minority ethnic groups to inform their Housing Need and Demand Assessments ( HNDA) and Local Housing (Policy) Strategies ( LHS). This would include need to include details for social and private housing sectors and could be considered for inclusion in existing monitoring, customer satisfaction or household surveys.

21. Data on Gypsy/Traveller site occupancy and site quality was identified as an evidence gap, along with some more trend information on unauthorised sites. The Scottish Housing Regulator[46] publish some information on site satisfaction.

22. The number and characteristics of people in the Roma community was considered to be an evidence gap. There is currently no separate tick box for Roma in the census and major household surveys. Roma people can use the write-in boxes but this is less likely to lead to as accurate a count of the Roma community. A 2013 report by the Social Marketing Gateway [47] attempted to map the Roma population in Scotland.

Participation and Representation

23. It was felt that more research was needed to identify why minority ethnic groups are underrepresented in politics and civic society. It was thought that low proportions of minority ethnic people were registered to vote and the number of candidates put forward for political representation was low. Recent work by Runnymede [48] suggests political participation for ethnic minorities is low, and worse at local government. More evidence could help decisions on whether positive action could be required. More diversity information on local councillors was seen to be a specific gap. More board representation and public appointments data by minority ethnic group would also be useful.

24.Stakeholders felt that data collection of protected characteristics in relation to positive action measures and grant funding of the arts could be improved. This would help to ensure that national performing companies, funders, festivals and those working across the sector utilise data to ensure that the arts are open to all of Scotland's diverse communities, including reflection on socio-economic status.

Refugee and Asylum

25. A lack of data on Refugees and Asylum Seekers was cited. Stakeholders thought it would be useful to assess if the current data is suitable for evidencing the relevant section of the Race Equality Framework - more evidence in this area should be gathered if needed. Asylum is a matter reserved to the Home Office, which publishes data on applications and decision making, but much of this is not broken down to country level.

26. There is only limited data available, in respect of matters which are devolved, relating to the integration of both asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland. Moving on from the first New Scots Strategy (2014-17) [49] , there is an intention to form a measurement group as part of the next strategy, which will play a role in planning engagement to gather information/data to inform the strategy going forward as well as measuring impact. An equality analyst will sit on this measurement group. From the New Scots perspective, data that can evidence people's integration in their new communities, in relation to both refugees and asylum seekers, would be helpful. There are difficulties with the asylum side, as it is a reserved matter, but the data on refugees is also very limited, as most data collections don't identify whether people are refugees or asylum seekers.

The evidence gaps identified above for minority ethnic groups will be given further consideration and prioritised, and where appropriate the Scottish Government will seek to collaborate with partner organisations.

As stated earlier in this document, Scottish Government cannot take ownership of all evidence gaps and where appropriate we will work collaboratively with partners to improve the equality evidence base for Scotland.

8.3 Religion, Faith and Belief

Religion differs slightly from some other protected characteristics in that there is no single Scottish Government overarching strategy or action plan; however, there is a strong intersection with Race and the Race Equality Framework ( REF). There was a conscious decision taken that the focus should be on race in the REF but the two are intertwined.

The Scottish Working Group on Religion and Belief Relations looked at how community cohesion could be supported through dialogue and positive action among different faith communities and between faith communities and other belief groups and produced 'Dialogue: Religion and Belief Relations in Scotland: Good Practice Guide' [50] . This guidance is popular amongst stakeholders and can be used in a variety of ways and contexts to take good relations among people of diverse beliefs in Scotland to a new level.

Analysis of the Census 2011 provided a comprehensive evidence base on religion but this data is now around six years old. The Scottish Government Core Questions ( SSCQ) are a more up-to-date source of data on religion as these statistics are updated annually.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Discrimination Module [51] is an important source of evidence and contains a chapter on attitudes to religious dress and symbols.

Edinburgh University recently published the report 'Scottish Muslims in Numbers' [52] . This report offers a timely analysis of some of the unique demographic trends of Scotland's increasingly diverse Muslim communities - trends which have important societal and policy implications for Scotland.

Some of the evidence gaps identified for this strategy are as follows:

27. More nuanced data on islamophobic and religious hate crime was cited by stakeholders as an evidence gap and there was a call for more detail in this area to develop understanding and assist more informed policy development. It should be noted that the 'Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland' [53] publication presents analysis of the nature of religiously aggravated offending charges, the accused and the victims of incidents.

28. The impact of referendums on religious groups was seen as an area where new data and evidence would be welcomed. Stakeholders would find it useful to understand the impact of the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, as well as a measure of the impact of Brexit in relation to religion and faith. There are certain populations from the EU who belong to particular faiths, but it could also impact on people who are not from the EU. 'What Scotland Thinks'[54] is useful source for examining political and cultural attitudes and those around independence and referendums.

29. Religion and low income was considered to be a data gap. The main source of income data is the Households Below Average Income ( HBAI) survey [55] ; however, as this is a sample survey, it's very difficult to obtain detailed breakdowns by equality characteristic. More research and evidence in this area would be important for tackling poverty.

8.4 Age

Older People

Social Isolation and Loneliness

Before the Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2016, the Equal Opportunities Committee produced an important report on Age and Social Isolation [56] . The report made a number of recommendations which are now being taken forward by the current Scottish Government, including working to improve the evidence base.

Data is limited, particularly at a Scottish level, around which groups are most likely to be affected by social isolation and loneliness. However, age is particularly noted as a risk factor, and there are indications of higher levels of risk amongst LGBTI communities and certain ethnic communities (although data on these communities is very limited), as well as differences in experience by gender.

30. Baseline information is required to help future measurement of isolation and loneliness. The Scottish Government is currently reviewing its Scottish Household Survey and it is proposed that questions are included which aim to measure both social isolation and loneliness, as they are distinct concepts. A person can feel lonely without being socially isolated, and not all socially isolated people will feel lonely. The Scottish Government has worked with a number of stakeholders as part of collaborative work to develop and shape a National Strategy on Social Isolation and Loneliness. It plans to carry out a consultation on the development of this National Strategy later in 2017.

31. The ' Drink Wise Age Well' [57] initiative by Ad Action will consider issues with alcohol that older people can have. Programmes such as 'Men's Sheds' and 'Walking Football' helps to combat this and social isolation etc. for older men. People who are in more physical or elementary occupations are more likely to retire at a pensionable age and may be more at risk of social isolation. Aims of the initiatives include purposeful active engagement, meeting other men, health related info and provision of opportunities to talk to each other. Some research in this area could aid understanding of another important intersectional gap.

32. Some further research around older people and addictions would enhance the evidence base - there is some research that shows that there were some health benefits for grandparents who looked after their grandchildren, around being more active, less smoking, less drinking etc.

33. Stakeholders identified evidence gaps relating to volunteering data and analysis. These gaps exist not only for age and older people but across the protected characteristics. The Scottish Government intend to take forward an analysis of volunteering data over 2017-18 to help inform our policy approach to volunteering. This will provide a baseline from which progress can be monitored and highlight where evidence gaps exist. This analysis will pull together key evidence and statistics from existing work that has been undertaken on volunteering to date and will look in more depth at national survey data as well as drawing on wider evidence where necessary.

34. Pensioner Employment analysis - ageing populations present a fiscal challenge to most Western economies. Policy responses have focused on legislative changes to extend working lives, such as abolishment of the default retirement age in April 2011 [58] and the increase of the State Pension Age. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting people who want to keep on working recognising the benefits of a thriving third age. Initial research to investigate the increase in so-called 'pensioner employment' was published in June 2016 [59] . The research focused on the employment characteristics and socio-economic conditions of older people who continue to work beyond state pension age and highlighted a range of barriers to employment. It suggested that more can be done to support older people who want or need to extend their working lives. To help move forward, a second piece of research will build on this initial report to further examine the barriers to extending working lives from both the employer and employee perspectives. A full report and a policy booklet will be published by the Scottish Government in summer 2017.

35. Age discrimination in employment is difficult to detect. There are far fewer tribunals for age than for gender or disability. Stakeholders felt that more information is required on why discrimination happens and how it is tackled.

36. Stakeholders have indicated that more analysis on the living wage by age group would be useful since the living wage helps older workers. Data on this would support policy making in this area.

37. Older carers' data would also be useful to gather and analyse. A review of intergenerational and caring responsibilities data would provide useful evidence. Older people may look after a range of people including grandchildren, parents or even friends. It has also been suggested that it might be useful to study the age of carers and who they are caring for, and perhaps collect some qualitative information around their reasons for being carers and the impact this has on their quality of life and employment outcomes. Further gathering of evidence on intersectionality e.g. older carers by gender, to see if this has impact on pay and income gaps may also be useful.

38. Accessible housing, accessible transport, accessible IT are all areas where it would be useful to obtain more data for older people. It would be important to find out if accessible IT becomes less of a problem as people become more familiar with IT over time (and younger people who are familiar with IT age). More data on older people's experience of IT and barriers to using online services would be helpful. Many public services are using online application forms (e.g. for sheltered housing), but older people may not be comfortable using these, even if they use the internet for other things such as using Facebook or Skype.

39. Older people are more fearful of fraud and are disproportionately targeted by scammers. It would be useful to enhance the evidence base in this area.

40. Better narratives around the available data on older people would be very useful, particularly aimed at users who dip in and out of the information, such as the media. These narratives should bring data from a number of different policy areas together in ways that occasional users can understand.

Younger Adults and Children

41. In addition to evidence gaps relating to older people, an improved evidence base to understand how poverty is experienced by younger adults and children with different protected characteristics is also required. This intersectional evidence would help identify policy and practice that helps tackle poverty.

42. Adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs) - the term adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs) refer to stressful events occurring in childhood between 0-18 years; including being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional) or neglect (physical and emotional), and growing-up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems, mental health conditions, domestic violence or criminal behavior resulting in incarceration. ACEs have been found to be strongly associated with a range of poorer health (physical and mental) and life outcomes (education, employment and crime), in research originally conducted in the USA [60] and in subsequent surveys (e.g. ACE surveys in England and Wales). The Scottish ACE Hub (co-ordinated by NHS Health Scotland) are currently exploring options for obtaining Scottish ACE data by collecting retrospective information from the adult population about adverse experiences in their childhood, similar to the ACE surveys undertaken in other countries[61]. Information about current childhood experiences, rather than impacts in adulthood, can be obtained from the Growing up in Scotland ( GUS) [62] survey which collects information about some adverse experiences (but not all types of experience typically covered in adult ACE surveys).

43. Life Chances of Young People in Scotland [63] - in response to a recommendation in 'Shifting the Curve', the first report by the First Minister's Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, the Scottish Government undertook a review of the evidence on the life chances of young people in Scotland. The report was published in July 2017[64] and focused primarily on young adults aged 16 to 24 and their transition from school to adulthood. Outcomes for young people aged 11 to 15 were also considered where relevant. The report outlines what we know about young people in Scotland across the following broad topics: poverty, wealth and financial capability; housing circumstances; employment and labour market outcomes; education and training; and health and wellbeing. It then explores how young people's life chances are shaped by gender, area deprivation, ethnicity, disability, caring responsibilities and being looked after. The review identified eight areas of potential concern.

44. Existing data on post-school transitions in Scotland gives a good overall picture of what young adults are doing in the first years after they leave school, but we know less about the quality of destinations, and the experiences and difficulties young people have in plotting a route from school to employment. While there is good data on wellbeing, risky health behaviours and relationships for age 11 to 15, there is less data collected on age 16 to 24 in these areas. There is a lack of information on some topics for those aged 16 to 24 by some protected characteristics as survey samples are not large enough to do this analysis.

8.5 Disability

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People

The Scottish Government's 'A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People' [65] was published in December 2016 and sets out the Scottish Government's approach to policy for disabled people covering the period to 2021. It is based unequivocally on the social model of disability as opposed to the medical model (the medical model lays the blame on the impairment, rather than on society's inability to provide for the person's needs, rights, and aspirations). A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People sets the overall direction of travel for the Scottish Government over the lifetime of this Parliament.

A Fairer Scotland For Disabled People

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People is rights-based and was drafted in response to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ( UNCRPD). Several actions in the plan have strong links to analysis and evidence, some requiring the formation of baselines and measurement of progress, and these include:

18. We will work across the Scottish Government to ensure we gather data on the services used to support those with learning disabilities to ensure the services they need are delivering the best outcomes to support independent living.

29. Disabled people are 20% of the population, but make up only 11% of the private sector workforce and 11.7% of the public sector workforce. We will consult with Disabled People's Organisations ( DPOs) and public sector bodies around setting targets to redress this imbalance.

38. For the first time, from April 2017, Scottish public authorities will publish information on equal pay policy and occupational segregation for disabled people as part of the public sector equality duty.

As with the work on the Race Equality Framework, the Scottish Government's equality policy and analytical teams will work over the next four years to establish priorities, timescales and define individual projects. It will aim to gather the data necessary to set baselines and measure the impact of these important actions.

Further discussions with stakeholders for the equality evidence strategy identified the following evidence gaps, which we will look to explore in more detail over the four year period of this strategy:

45. Stakeholders suggested a new measurement framework could be helpful, over and above ensuring disabled people's rights, to measure equality for all disabled people including those whose rights have been met. The EHRC's Equality Measurement Framework focused on creating capabilities based on Amartya Sen's rights based approach - this is a rights based approach that gives a normative framework.

46. Measurement of rights - stakeholders could be asked about what rights are important to them to identify the ones which are a priority to measure. Some rights may be difficult to measure, for example measurement of the right to family life for people with learning disabilities. New research could establish which of these rights disabled people value and which impact most on quality of life.

47. Social Care and Health - stakeholders suggested that highest support needs are often met, however it is often those who are at the margins of social care who could experience most cuts to services. For example, issues like closure of day care centres and reduced tenancy support for people with learning disabilities could have broader health and social interaction impacts. More research in this area would be helpful for stakeholders.

48. Self-Directed Support ( SDS) should be explored in relation to socio-economic status and poverty. Wealthier areas may be more likely to take up SDS and this policy may be reinforcing inequality. Socio-economic status and poverty, rather than level of impairment, may have greater impact and are very important measures in relation to disability. Analysts could consider exploring SDS in relation to social class and unpack any inequalities which may be emerging. Household income could be used as a proxy measure for social class.

49. Life expectancy for people with learning difficulties is lower than those who do not have learning difficulties. This could be explored to establish why this is the case and the evidence base in this area could be brought up to date. Research to explore why people with learning difficulties have lower than average life expectancy would be a useful addition to the evidence base.

50. Employment - the majority of disabled people who do not work say this is due to their impairment, but this could be due to not having had the opportunity to work in an appropriate environment. In some cases, the technology is not advanced enough to make the workplace accessible and some new research could inform this area. The Learning Disability Consortium have good data on employment. Action 28 of A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People states a desire to halve the employment gap between disabled people and the rest of the working age population.

51. Employment and Support Allowance ( ESA) data would be useful to analyse. The Department of Work and Pensions ( DWP) hold this data and the linking of ESA to Community Health Index ( CHI) data could lead to powerful analysis. Stakeholders felt it would also be useful to explore the effects of loss of ESA for an individual, and examine how many people go on to Job Seekers Allowance ( JSA).

52. Housing and Community - Housing associations were considered to have good data on mobility and this could be further utilised to inform policy.

53. Scope [67] produced a report in 2014 on disabled people in the community which drew upon attitudes towards disabled people and the attitudes of disabled people themselves. This work could be used as baseline to measure changing attitudes.

54. Evidence on the difficulties some disabled people have in finding the space to form relationships would be a useful addition to the evidence base.

British Sign Language ( BSL)

People who are Deaf and use BSL class themselves as a linguistic minority, rather than being disabled - being a minority language/ BSL user is not a protected characteristic, but a Deaf BSL user is covered under the disability provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

The Scottish Government is taking a proactive approach to supporting Deaf BSL users through implementation of the new BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, which requires Scottish Ministers to publish BSL plans every six years, setting out how they will promote and support the language.

Scottish Government Consultation on the Draft British Sign Language ( BSL) National Plan 2017-2023 [68]

Scottish Government Consultation on the Draft British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan 2017-2023

Deaf BSL users have been involved in the development of the first BSL National Plan, through the National Advisory Group ( NAG). The NAG is made up of Deaf and Deafblind BSL users, including Deaf young people, and parents with Deaf children, working alongside representatives of public bodies which will have to implement the BSL (Scotland) Act. The National Plan sets out the Scottish Government's long term goals for BSL in ten key areas, and sets out more than 50 actions which will help make progress towards these goals over the next six years.

The consultation was published [69] by the Scottish Government on 1st March 2017, and was live until the end of May 2017. Consideration will be given to the evidence requirements which emerge from the BSL National Plan, and we will work with partners to assess and fill data gaps where appropriate.

Certain actions in the plan have strong links to analysis and evidence, some requiring the formation of baselines and measurement of progress. Proposed actions relating to analysis and evidence are:

4. Consider the need for a comprehensive review of the current BSL/English interpreting landscape, including skill levels, training and regulation. Such a review would develop recommendations aimed at boosting the profession, and supporting the more efficient delivery of interpretation services across the public sector, including all the services covered in this Plan.

15. Investigate the qualification level of BSL that teachers have and review how the General Teaching Council for Scotland's Professional Update and Standards could inform guidance for teachers of pupils who use BSL.

21. Gather information annually on where BSL is being offered in schools as part of the 1+2 language policy.

The setting of baselines and measurement of progress is applicable to some of the above actions. It is anticipated that further data requirements will emerge from the consultation on the draft national plan, and also as we work to implement the actions in the plan over the next six years.

The Census is the only official source for BSL data which can be cross-tabbed with a wide range of other variables across health, housing, labour market data etc. These figures were included in Scottish Government analysis of the 2011 census [70] . The census data also allowed for analysis of BSL users cross-tabbed with 'deafness or partial hearing loss'. Scottish Council on Deafness have statistics on interpreters and estimate the ratio of BSL interpreters to BSL users in Scotland as being approximately one BSL translator per 200 BSL users [71] .

The following evidence gaps were raised by stakeholders:

55. BSL as a first language data was seen as a gap which could potentially be filled in the next census. The 2011 census asked whether people used BSL at home, but didn't specify 'as a first language'. Therefore the figure would have included family members of Deaf people who communicate in BSL. Stakeholders would also find it useful to obtain the number of deaf people using BSL who also have a visual impairment, as the BSL (Scotland) Act explicitly includes deafblind BSL users. Following the Census 2021 Topic Consultation, a review of the language questions in the Census is on-going to determine data needs. A stakeholder event to explore users' data needs was held in April 2017, with question testing on-going until early 2018.

56. Stakeholders cited an intersectional data gap around the challenges for deaf children in South Asian communities where they get taught BSL which is not their home language and the challenges for parents - this would be a useful area to gain information on.

8.6 Gender and Pregnancy and Maternity

Overarching Work

Gender Index - The Scottish Government intend to publish a Gender Index in summer 2017. This will use, wherever possible, the same methodology as the European Institute for Gender Equality's ( EIGE) index [72] . Extensive methodological notes are provided by EIGE on their website, including explanations of how each indicator was chosen. The Scottish Government have used the core index from EIGE 2015 publication as the base for the Scottish index. The EIGE index covers a broad range of issues facing men and women across the EU across core domains:

  • Work
  • Money
  • Knowledge
  • Time
  • Power
  • Health

This index will provide an important and robust measure of gender equality. Stakeholders have also suggested that a future assessment of whether the EIGE Index covers everything that Scotland would want it to cover, and to what extent it is a compromise based on what data is commonly available across the EU countries, would be a useful area of work. They would also like to consider whether a gender index for local areas within Scotland is feasible.


The Scottish Government's Programme for Government 2016-17 states that it is working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission ( EHRC) to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination. The Minister for Employability and Training is chairing a working group whose remit includes: improving employers' access to advice to ensure best practice; developing an industry-specific communications strategy around the benefits of positive pregnancy and maternity policies; and strengthening health and safety advice. The working group met for the first time in December 2016 and again in March 2017, with public, private, union and third sectors represented and a gender balance achieved. Members have agreed the Work Plan and committed to driving forward specific actions.

In relation to monitoring and evaluating the working group's progress, the work plan contains the recommendation 'Scottish Government include relevant questions about pregnancy and maternity discrimination and disadvantage in planned surveys of employers and mothers, report on the outcomes and consider further research or action'. This mirrors the recommendation in the EHRC's 2015 report: ' Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination in the Workplace: Recommendations for Change' [73] . The scale of the extent of pregnancy and maternity discrimination was revealed in the EHRC's 2015 research and a follow-up study is not currently planned. The working group is therefore exploring how to measure any progress in reducing levels of this discrimination. Inquiries into existing Scottish Government surveys have not yielded any suggestions due to issues including sample size and scope, and questions having already been finalised. A discussion around further analytical possibilities would therefore be welcome.

There has been some recent analytical work carried out by Scottish Government analysts on the gender pay gap:

  • A Gender Pay Gap measure became a National Indicator in Scotland's National Performance Framework [74] . This indicator currently presents the pay gap for full-time employees only - it is recognised that some stakeholders would prefer that it presented the overall pay gap;
  • The Scottish Government published a Gender Pay Gap bulletin [75] 'Update and Analysis of Time Series Data' in March 2017;
  • The Scottish Government published 'Gender Pay Gap Trends and Drivers' [76] in June 2016.

Stakeholders have suggested it may be worth carrying out a stocktake on what else may be required on the pay gap to highlight other areas where evidence is required. The Scottish Government will consider the findings of the Scottish Parliament's inquiry into the gender pay gap, to be published in summer 2017.

The following sets out evidence gaps raised at conversations with stakeholders:

57. The pay gap for older women was raised as an intersectional evidence gap as data sources may not fully capture informal work. This may not be formal employment and will not necessarily be self-employment but is a source of income. This type of work can be better organised around other commitments that women may have. More data is required on women aged over 50 as it is considered that the disadvantage may not be unique to the current cohort, but may affect future cohorts as the external impacts on these groups may not be changing. Surveys such as Understanding Society [77] could potentially be used and section 8.4 of this document shows work Scottish Government have carried out on older people and employment.

58. Stakeholders suggested international research around the effects and success of mandatory paternity leave for fathers e.g. in Sweden, would add to the evidence base for policy making and inform work on the gender pay gap. As would international evidence on other policies which promote fatherhood and fathers sharing the caring role.

59. More analysis of data in Scotland of the uptake of shared parental leave would aid understanding on how this relates to the pay gap and potential reasons why men are not taking up shared parental leave.

60. More analysis on the living wage could also be considered in more detail in relation to how this affects women. Part-time jobs are lower paid and if the living wage pulls up salaries then this could affect the pay gap.

61. More exploration around evidence on good quality part-time work would be useful to stakeholders. In STEM occupations, only about a quarter of women stay in that sector, as they tend to move into jobs which allow them to manage caring responsibilities. More part-time jobs could help women returners. The STEM strategy will explore how girls in general have higher attainment but work in lower paid occupations, and the relationship this has with perceptions of women in society (e.g. unconscious bias in schools). A new short-life Reference Group will be established to provide external support and challenge for the on-going development of the STEM Strategy for Education and Training.

62. Data on gender and employability particularly in relation to the spend on men and women was seen by stakeholders as an evidence gap.

The Fairer Scotland Action Plan states that the Timewise partnership [78] will produce the first ever Flexible Jobs Index for Scotland - to analyse the current ratio of quality jobs advertised as open to flexible or part time working at the point of hire, and identify the proportion of people who need to work flexibly, and who could raise their living standards by doing so. This index was recently published by Timewise.

Gender Based Violence

Violence Against Women - in 2016, the Scottish Government published a revised version of 'Equally Safe', Scotland's Strategy to Eradicate Violence Against Women and Girls [79] . The strategy envisions a Scotland where all individuals are equally safe and respected, and where women and girls live free from all forms of violence and abuse - and the attitudes that help perpetuate it.

In March 2017, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on a draft delivery plan for Equally Safe [80] . The delivery plan sets out the actions that will be undertaken by the Scottish Government, COSLA and key partners to make Equally Safe a reality. It also sets out a draft performance management framework, including indicators to be used to monitor progress at national and local levels.

Evidence gaps raised in this area were:

63. Stakeholders felt that there is more evidence available for some forms of violence against women and girls (e.g. domestic abuse, rape) than others (e.g. commercial sexual exploitation, 'honour' based violence, and child sexual abuse). Data collected at the national level is not always broken down by local authority - either because the sample size means it is not possible to do so (as is the case with the data from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey), or because of the additional resources required to publish the local breakdowns in a timely manner. At the local authority level, there are not currently processes in place to capture data on violence against women and girls in a consistent way. The data being collected varies significantly from organisation to organisation, both within and across local authority areas. And most of the data relates to processes and activities (e.g. number of women identified as being affected by VAWG, referred to services and engaging with services) rather than the outcomes that these activities are resulting in. The Improvement Service and the Scottish Government are working with the VAWG leads in each local area to develop and pilot a comprehensive, shared performance management framework that can be used across Scotland.

64. For Equally Safe there was a module in the Social Attitudes Survey on violence against women and a side module on young people's attitudes. Stakeholders would find it helpful if this was repeated to start looking at long term trends. It would also be useful to repeat the Young People in Scotland survey, to allow adult/ young people comparisons over time.

65. Intersectional information on gender could also be taken from the Race Equality Framework, and Equally Safe is looking at violence against women for the characteristics of LGBTI, minority ethnic groups and disability.


66. Civic Equality - more research on women's civic equality and barriers to participation in political life is required and this could also include intersectional links to ethnic minority groups. A toolkit for political parties for all characteristics is being worked on outside of government.

Health and Wellbeing

67. An evidence gap was raised around the gender-disaggregated data for care experiences in relation to children and young people.

68. More evidence on young women's attitudes in relation to confidence and self-esteem could help to identify and tackle this issue. Organisations such as the Girl Guides and YWCA have looked into this.

69. Stakeholders indicated that more intersectional gender data is required around abortion particularly for minority ethnic women and those with disabilities. This data would be useful at both a Scotland and local authority level.

Housing and Social Security

70. Stakeholders identified a gap on gender and housing, as accessible housing is often the starting point for social security and other topics such as domestic abuse.

71. Stakeholders highlighted the need for analysts to ensure that data systems are set up to provide useful equality and gender equality data at the outset - this could be applicable to new social security analysis. Stakeholders suggested that there are some gaps around Social Security caseload data by gender, e.g. DHPs discretionary housing payments. It would be desirable to have a safe space for women to share their experiences as part of the Social Security engagement plans.

72. More intersectional gender data is required around Social Security particularly for minority ethnic women and those with disabilities. This data would be useful at both a Scotland and local authority level.

73. Stakeholders suggested that gender breakdowns and land ownership is another topic area where there are data gaps.

8.7 Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics

Although data on Sexual Orientation has improved in recent years, evidence gaps still persist. It is expected that official sources undercount the proportion of the population who are lesbian, gay or bisexual. There is less evidence currently available on those who identify as transgender, including those who have a non-binary gender identity. The following sets out evidence gaps in these equality areas, and also refers to evidence gaps on intersex people.

Gender Recognition

The Scottish Government are reviewing and reforming gender recognition legislation. The key proposals in relation to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 are:

1.Removing the psychiatric diagnosis requirement from legal gender recognition;
2.Reducing the age at which people can get legal recognition of the gender they live as;
3.Introducing legal recognition for people who do not identify as men or women.

Currently people who want to change their legal gender apply to the Gender Recognition Panel ( GRP) which operates on a UK basis. The total number of applications made to the GRP and figures on the number of full Gender Recognition Certificates ( GRCs) that have been granted are shown on the UK Government's website. [81]

Equality researchers are supporting this review of legislation by providing research evidence from international literature on issues such as the persistence rates of young people with gender dysphoria [82] , where these feelings continue into adulthood, and the effects of using puberty blockers on young people with gender dysphoria. Data on the number of non-binary people in Scotland would be used to inform development of this policy. LGBTI organisations have called for a question on gender identity to be included in the Scottish Government's major household surveys and the Census 2021, and for there to also be some way of capturing people that identify outwith the binary concepts of man/woman. The Scottish Government is considering, as part of the review of its core questions, including a non-binary option for respondents. The ONS and NRS Census teams are currently looking at the possible inclusion of non-binary gender identity and sexual orientation questions in Census 2021.

At conversations with stakeholders the following evidence gaps were raised:

74. Stakeholders informed us that it would be useful to seek out international evidence and models of good practice from other countries that already have a lower age limit for legal gender recognition. Also to collect evidence on how legislation/ policy has been implemented to stop frivolous applications under the self-declaratory route. The Scottish Government have done some very initial work on the position in other countries and know broadly the countries to look at (e.g. Ireland, Argentina, Denmark, Norway).

75. In order to inform work in this area, it might also be helpful to understand what analysis on the impact (both positive and negative) of self-declaratory models in other countries has been undertaken. For individuals there could be positive impacts in terms of a low-cost and stress-free way of obtaining legal recognition. This might well have positive results in terms of self-esteem and mental health.

76. Analysis could also include evidence from other jurisdictions on whether or not positive media coverage would continue if it was easier to obtain legal gender recognition. The impact of positive media reporting on representation on public life could also be considered.

77. Research into the reasons why the number of people who apply for legal gender recognition seem much lower than the numbers attending Gender Identity Clinics ( GICs) would be useful to stakeholders. For example, some people attending GICs will not be trans, some people may be put off applying by the current complexities of the legal process, some people may be happy without legal recognition, and some people are too young to apply (the minimum age for applying is 18).

78. Research into the effects of the cost of an application could provide useful evidence. It currently costs £125 to apply for gender recognition which could be prohibitive for some transgender people. One of the arguments for making the process more self-declaratory is that it would lower the cost, and could therefore be accessible to more trans people. A potential increase in the number of people applying to legally change their gender could also be supported by positive changes in societal attitudes.

79. There was also a call for evidence on medical procedures on any babies born with intersex variations, and research on what support, advice and guidance is given to the parents of children born with intersex variations.

80.International evidence could be obtained on how medical screening, which is currently gender-specific and assumes that patients are not transgender, is implemented for transgender people, including non-binary people. Some jurisdictions currently have non-binary gender recognition (e.g. New South Wales) and it could be useful to look at their processes and approaches to gather evidence on good practice.

Health Services

81. Improved evidence on the provision of health services for LGBTI people could help improve services. For example, evidence on the demand for breast augmentation or facial feminisation surgeries and associated waiting times.

82. Research on the LGBTI community's experience of mental health services and issues affecting access, particularly for young people, would be welcome. A review of current Scottish health and mental health data would also be useful for stakeholders, including how it can be broken down by sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics and what the quality of this is. Some research into service provision, demand and unmet need for LGBTI people would be welcome. Suicide prevention strategies do not include LGBTI people even though there is a high incidence of suicide for these communities. Research in this area would enhance the evidence base.

83. The Equality Network carry out their own research and these publications are listed on their website [83] . There are networks of LGBTI respondents in Scotland that the Equality Network access when carrying out research: an online network of 35,000 people, 23,000 accessible through email and 12,000 accessible through Twitter (some overlap). There were also a smaller subset of trans people and non-binary people covering the whole of the UK, with 600 trans people in Scotland. Equality Network ran around 20 focus groups on trans health which identified a data gap in this area. It would be possible to target relevant Scottish Health Survey ( SHeS) questions at a trans population contactable through the Scottish Trans Alliance ( STA)'s online networks. This would allow for some comparison of trans people's health compared to the population. A caveat to this would be potential bias, the fact that the surveys are interviewer-led and that the trans community would be contacted online so this might not produce consistent results.

Education and Employment

84. Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools is an issue where there is a lack of evidence. Bullying and harassment data is not collated by every LA and there is patchy provision. Schools could improve recording and reporting of bullying, and there could be systems established to do so which do not stigmatise the school. Stakeholders expressed views that the current HMIe framework may not always address the issue and suggested that it would be good if the HM Inspectors could disentangle the 'performance on equality' tick box for schools to the individual protected characteristics. It is recognised that there would be difficulties in getting data on this from data collections as it would require asking school pupils about their sexual orientation and gender identity. Stonewall has conducted some research in this area, as have LGBT Youth Scotland [84] , both of which indicate that bullying rates are higher amongst LGBT youngn people, particularly those who are trans [85] .

85. School Attainment results broken down by sexual orientation and gender identity would be a helpful addition to the evidence base. However, we recognise that some young people may not want to disclose this information and so there would be under-reporting in this respect. There could be concerns about asking young people about their sexual orientation or gender identity when they could be questioning this or struggling with the concept, however, asking young people aged 16 and older could be acceptable.

86. Linked to attainment, research on the form and types of employment LGBTI people engage in would be helpful. Do any negative experiences in school impact on the qualifications LGBTI people achieve, and how does this relate to the type of jobs they go on to do? Also, it would be useful to explore how experiences of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia in the work place affects job retention among this group. The link to the additional economic disadvantage some transgender people face because of difficulties securing and maintaining employment, and the cost of gender reassignment treatments not currently available on the NHS could also be explored.

Crime and Justice

87. Improved data and data reporting on sexual orientation and gender identity hate crime (including intersectional hate crime) and on court outcomes would be beneficial, particularly in light of Lord Bracadale's independent review of hate crime. It might also be helpful if a sample of cases is studied to find out much more information around the circumstances of the crime, characteristics of the victim and the perpetrator and the outcomes. As this is already done for religion it should be possible for LGBTI crimes reported to the procurator fiscal.

88. Stakeholders suggested further research on trans people's experiences of the criminal justice system would be beneficial, particularly in relation to the court system and the way in which potentially intrusive media reporting of the case could correlate with the number of cases that progress to prosecution.

89. More research on online hate crime would be useful. Although we are aware, by asking people if they have ever been a victim of online hate crime, that this is very prevalent in the trans community, there was little information available from the technology itself. Some posts are flagged up as offensive, but people are rarely banned.

Income, Poverty and Communities

90. Understanding income and poverty for LGBT people could be explored through further research. Ideas to fill this gap included targeting Family Resource Survey ( FRS) questions around household income at the LGBT networks. Data sets with the postcodes of people who identify as LGBT could be used to carry out urban rural and deprivation analysis.

91. The concentration of the LGBTI population and services in cities can mean there is a lack of service provision and other LGBTI people to engage with in more rural areas. Research into the impact of this and associated issues would be helpful, including some mapping of current service provision out with the central belt. This could also tie in with research around LGBTI people's use of public transport and the issues that inhibit the use of this.

92. Research would also be helpful around incidents of prejudice and discrimination against LGBTI service users in the provision of social care and housing services, and the training staff receive to meet the needs of LGBTI service-users. There are specific issues for older LGBTI people that a project by LGBT Health and Wellbeing is helping to address, but more research would be helpful. Further research is required on the intersectional breakdowns of LGBTI people, particularly minority ethnic and disabled LGBTI people. The Scottish Government recently funded the Equality Network to produce guidance on including intersectional LGBTI people in services [86] . This booklet provides useful self-assessment questions which policy makers and service providers can use to support the development of person-centred approaches.

93. The questions in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey ( SSA) could be reviewed as terminology has moved on. For example wording around 'sex change operations' is outdated and should be broadened to transgender. A balance is required between updating terminology, and keeping the existing meaning of questions in order to maintain consistent time series data. A full and robust consultation, taking into consideration progress around the development of a possible gender identity question in the Census 2021, would be useful ahead of the next discrimination module in 2020.


Email: Jon Hunter,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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