Brexit: social and equality impacts

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

Brexit Impacts

This analysis suggests that there are likely to be both specific and general ways in which Brexit will impact individuals and communities that may classified as equalities groups.

Please note that this scenario analysis does not include an analysis of all of the possible permutations of future UK-EU relations (such as EEA 'Norway-style' membership, 'Swiss-style' EFTA membership or a 'Turkish-style' Customs Union) as this lies outwith the scope of this report.

Specific Impacts

On one hand, Brexit will likely have specific effects on each group (and indeed, across groups, given that equalities groups are by no means homogenous) depending on their specific equalities-related rights, economic and political power, and resilience to impacts.

So, for instance, some equalities groups may be more affected by a loss of EU funding while others are more affected by loss of specific EU rights relating to their personal characteristics. These specific potential impacts of Brexit on equalities groups – including impacts on legal rights, public services and funding, and employment, housing and spending – are explored in this report in a long-list of impacts on 20 equalities groups, and a more detailed exploration of impacts in three case studies.

General Impacts

On the other hand, there are also some general or shared impacts that will likely be experienced across all (or most) equalities groups.

These impacts are largely socio-economic in nature. This is because equalities groups tend to comprise those people who are the most marginalised, or have the least political and economic power, in society. For instance, disabled people, minority ethnic communities, refugees and asylum seekers, and women, tend to be at a higher risk of poverty and insecure employment or unemployment than average, which in turn suggests that they are more reliant on public services and anti-discrimination law. Given that 37% of households in Scotland (or 890,000 households) are considered to be 'financially vulnerable'[86], any negative impact on their household finances resulting from smaller UK economic growth – which the Treasury has forecast in relation to Brexit[87] – could put further pressures on struggling households.

There are also likely to be a number of general legal impacts of Brexit on the EU-derived social rights of UK citizens, and the specific EU-derived rights of equalities groups, owing to the UK's decision to leave the EU's legal framework.

The next section of this report some general impacts of the Brexit process on equalities groups to date, and potential general impacts on equalities after the UK leaves the EU, before moving on to specific impacts on particular groups of people.



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