Brexit: social and equality impacts

This independent report focuses on some of the potential social and equality impacts of Brexit.

Equalities Groups

This report focuses on the impact of Brexit on different groups of people, in other words, the 'social impact' of the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

However, the research is especially interested in the impact of Brexit on people in society who possess less privilege, power and capital, due to their experiences of structural inequality, exclusion and discrimination. For that reason, this research will focus on the experiences of 'equalities groups' in Scotland, and the ways they may be affected by Brexit.

Equalities groups describe key groups of people who are most likely to experience discrimination and inequality based on their personal characteristics, and whose rights are protected under the Equality Act (2010).[8] This Act covers everyone in the UK, and is intended to protect people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

There are 9 'protected characteristics' under the Equality Act[9]:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Given these protected characteristics, we can therefore surmise that individuals and groups whose rights are directly covered under the Equality Act include:

  • Children and young people
  • Older people
  • Disabled people
  • People with long-term health conditions
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual (LGBTIA) people
  • Non-binary people
  • People who are married or in a civil partnership
  • Pregnant women and mothers
  • Minority Ethnic communities
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Gypsies / Travellers
  • Faith or religious communities
  • Women
  • Men

Yet, individuals or communities may also face discrimination or exclusion on the basis of other personal characteristics that are not designated as 'protected' under this act. In particular, people may face inequality or discrimination as a result of their upbringing, socio-economic status, housing status, immigration status, experience of social services, or geographical location. For that reason, this report suggests that we widen our understanding of 'equalities groups' to include the following groups of people:

  • People on low incomes / socio-economically disadvantaged
  • People with a migrant background (including EU nationals)
  • People with care-experience[10]
  • People with caring responsibilities[11]
  • People in specific locations (such as remote and rural areas)
  • People with substance abuse/addiction problems
  • Homeless people

In this broader understanding, equalities groups can therefore be defined as people or communities who face inequality, discrimination or social exclusion due to their protected or other personal characteristics.



Back to top