Scotland’s Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025

This strategy sets out our approach to improving and strengthening Scotland’s equality evidence base over a three year period to the end of 2025.

Annex A: Recent Progress and the Current Equality Evidence Base

Since the launch of Scotland's previous Equality Evidence Strategy in 2017, progress has been made by the Scottish Government to strengthen the equality evidence base. This complements improvement work undertaken across the wider public sector.

A major development in this time was the modernisation of the Scottish Government's Equality Evidence Finder platform. Following engagement with users, the platform was refreshed in 2018. The modernised website has a range of improved features, including better navigation and interactive graphics. In addition to being the first port of call for equality data, the site also includes information on socio-economic status and a National Performance Framework (NPF) Data Explorer. Further user feedback was received in 2022 as part of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025 consultation work and the site will continue to evolve to meet user requirements.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 affected equality data collection and highlighted important gaps in Scotland's equality evidence base. In response to the pandemic, and to inform key decision making, Scottish Government analysts produced a series of reports examining the impacts on equality.[1]

In addition to the work carried out to inform COVID-19 decision making, the past couple of years have seen Scottish Government analysts gather new evidence and produce a number of outputs to make best use of existing equality data. This includes projects where they:

Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP) Projects

A number of improvement actions have been taken forward within the EDIP since its launch in April 2021. Many of these actions have helped lay the foundations for this Equality Evidence Strategy. The projects were framed by the two broad programme aims of sharing good practice and priority data development.

1. Sharing good practice

This aim was achieved through actions (a) to understand the barriers to data collection, analysis and reporting and (b) build immediate capacity through the sharing of evidence-based learning and good practice. Key achievements are detailed below.

In 2021, the Scottish Government's Equality Analysis team organised a series of 'analytical gatherings' and the audience for these events comprised of analysts across the Scottish Government. At these workshops analysts presented good practice in the collection, analysis and presentation of equality data. This included boosting the size of small subsets by pooling data and data linkage.

Scottish Government analysts refreshed their guidance on the collection of equality data. This refreshed guidance for data collectors in the public sector utilised Scotland's Census 2022 questions and the ONS harmonised questions. It also recommended use of the Scottish Government's guidance on the collection of data on sex, gender identity and trans status.

The Scottish Government commissioned case studies (of Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland, The Open University, Social Security Scotland, Sports Scotland, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration) looking at how public bodies have implemented good practice in the collection and use of equality data.

2. Priority data development

This aim was achieved through actions to (a) improve the accessibility, robustness and use of existing equality data, (b) establish new equality datasets to fill gaps and (c) undertake domain-specific equality data improvements. Key achievements are detailed below.

A large-scale equality data linkage project is currently underway in Scotland, led by Research Data Scotland (RDS) under the Scottish Government's former Chief Statistician, linking Population Census data to administrative data in order to improve the equality data breakdowns available from these sources.

The Population Census remains the gold standard for producing granular equality data and the upcoming results of the 2022 edition will provide analysts with a range of new data for intersectional equality analysis. National Records of Scotland (NRS) carried out an outputs consultation, which closed on 10 February 2023, to give users an opportunity to contribute their views on what they need from the new Census. As part of the consultation, NRS published a spreadsheet containing details on the content they plan to publish as part of Census outputs, which includes equality variables.

As part of the consultation and stakeholder engagement events carried out to inform the development of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025, we received feedback from users that the Equality Evidence Finder should present data in a more intersectional manner and this will be something that the Scottish Government will progress as part of the new Equality Evidence Strategy (see Action 19 in Annex D for details).

The Scottish Surveys Core Questions (SSCQ) is an annual official statistics publication. SSCQ is a result of a harmonised design across the three major Scottish Government household surveys. The SSCQ publishes intersectional equality data by several characteristics in its reporting.

Scottish Government analysts are currently collaborating with the ONS on their Inclusive Data Taskforce Implementation Plan, particularly on Data Principle 1 which seeks to create an environment of trust and trustworthiness which allows and encourages everyone to count and be counted in UK data and evidence.

Where actions within the original EDIP project plan have not been achieved in full during phase one, and there is still a user requirement, these are now reflected in the list of actions contained within Annex D, to be progressed throughout the lifetime of the this strategy.


1. These include COVID-19: impact on equality; COVID-19: health and social impact assessment; COVID-19: economic impact of labour market effects; COVID-19 - disabled people: health, social and economic harms - research report; COVID-19: at risk groups - estimates.



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