Scottish National Investment Bank Bill: equality impact assessment

How Scottish National Investment Bank's ethical approach will be developed.

Executive Summary

1. The Scottish Government has committed to establish the Scottish National Investment Bank, and for the Bank to be operational in 2020, investing in businesses and communities across Scotland. The creation of the Bank will deliver an institution that can boost Scotland’s economic performance and realise the Scottish Government’s ambitions for the economy by providing patient capital to finance growth. The Bank’s investment decisions will reflect financial, economic and wider social and ethical interests, in order for it to have the desired impact, contribute to inclusive growth and to fulfil the objectives set for it.

2. The Scottish Government is committed to ensure that the way the Bank operates – its culture, governance, and approach to businesses and individuals – will define it as a leading financial and investment institution. This will mean that, in particular, the Bank will hold to the following principles: equality; transparency; diversity; and inclusion, and it will be established and run following the spirit and practice of Open Government. This Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) sets out how these commitments will be met.

3. The Bank is intended to provide a leadership role in terms of diversity and inclusion, as well as in ethical and inclusive investment. This Equality Impact Assessment is intended to set out how this can be achieved by considering the potential impacts on people who share one or more of the protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010, and on the reduction of inequalities. The scope of this EQIA includes the Bill as introduced and the creation of the Bank, which itself does not form part of the Bill. 

4. This EQIA is based on stakeholder engagement and feedback received, the results of the consultation on the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill, and desk based research as well as the previous analysis conducted to support development of the Implementation Plan and Supporting Analysis (published in February 2018).

5. To support the creation of the Bank by 2020 the Scottish Government has now brought forward the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill. The Bill places a duty on Scottish Ministers to establish the Scottish National Investment Bank and gives them powers to capitalise it. The Bill also makes provision for the governance of the Bank including its purpose and objects.

6. It is intended that this EQIA be updated throughout 2019 as the policy for the implementation of the Bank continues to be developed. The findings of the completed EQIA will support the establishment of the Bank in 2020 and the Bank’s development of its Investment Strategy and Ethical Statement.

7. As well as considering the effects of the Bill and of establishing the impact of the Bank on people who may share one or more of the protected characteristics, this EQIA also considers how the creation of the Bank can help to tackle socio-economic inequality. This approach recognises the intended purposes of the Bank, which include the reduction of socio-economic inequality, and is intended to support full consideration of the impact on groups subject to multiple disadvantage as a result of interaction between the protected characteristics and socio-economic inequality.

8. The Scottish Government will also publish a Fairer Scotland Duty assessment, building on the evidence identified and the conclusions drawn in this EQIA, which will consider in more detail how the activities of the Bank can address socio-economic inequality.

9. The evidence identified through this EQIA has shown that the Bill as introduced, and the subsequent creation of the Bank, can be anticipated to have a positive impact on protected groups and individuals, and to address socio-economic inequality.

10. The Bank can deliver the anticipated positive impacts, both directly and indirectly, through:

  • Its culture, governance and engagement with its employees (direct).
  • Its interactions with its customers (direct).
  • Supporting its customers to deliver positive impacts in respect of the protected characteristics and to address socio-economic inequality within their own ventures and through the activities that the Bank’s financing will enable (indirect).

11. The Schedule of the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill proposes that the Bank be made subject to a number of duties under existing legislation. Of particular relevance to this EQIA are the provisions to make the Bank subject to the requirements of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018. Equalities legislation will also be amended to ensure that the Public Sector Equality Duty applies to the Bank.

12. To underpin the principle of transparency, the Bill will also make the Bank subject to the requirements of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2003.

13. In addition, there are a range of initiatives with which it is proposed that the Scottish National Investment Bank align itself. These are: the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights[1], the UN Global Compact[2] and the Women in Finance Charter[3]

14. The Bank will also conduct its activities in line with Scottish Government policy initiatives such as the fair work agenda, including Fair Work First. The Scottish Ministers will also bring forward subordinate legislation to make the Bank subject to the Fairer Scotland Duty. In addition, it will be subject to the standard legal requirements as a public body.

15. This EQIA highlights the areas where the Bank can be anticipated to make a positive impact. It has not identified any anticipated negative impacts but sets out a number of areas which should be subject to further consideration during the establishment and operation of the Bank to ensure that equality issues are properly addressed and progress furthered wherever possible.

16. The Bank’s activities will contribute to the achievement of a number of the outcomes of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework indicators and, through that, help to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. More detail on the anticipated impact of the Bank, based on the possible transformative missions set out in the Implementation Plan, will be published on the Scottish Government webpages[4]. The anticipated contribution of the Bank against the National Performance Framework will continue to be considered as the final missions for the Bank are developed. 

17. The performance of the Bank against its Investment Strategy and Ethical Statement will be subject to regular review. The Scottish National Investment Bank Bill provides that the Bank will be required to report annually to Scottish Ministers and gives Scottish Ministers a power to specify what information it requires from the Bank in this regard. The Bill also provides that, at least every 5 years, Scottish Ministers must commission a report on the performance of the Bank to be published and laid in Parliament.

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