Equality Impact Assessment - Results
|Title of Policy||South of Scotland Enterprise Bill|
|Summary of aims and desired outcomes of Policy||The aim of the policy is to implement legislation to establish a new non-departmental public body, South of Scotland Enterprise|
|Directorate: Division: team||Directorate for Economic Development: Business Engagement & Regional Economic Development Division: South of Scotland|
1. The policy intention of the South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) Bill is to create a new non-departmental public body to meet the enterprise and skills needs of the south of Scotland. Discussions to inform the EQIA were held with internal Scottish Government officials and with a diverse range of stakeholders with an interest in the south of Scotland and equalities, encompassing individuals as well as local- and national-level businesses and organisations. A public consultation between March and June 2018 also included specific questions on equality impacts.
2. As part of the EQIA process, the Scottish Government has considered the potential positive and negative impacts of the Bill, and by extension the new body, on groups with protected equality characteristics. The process has also helped to identify gaps in its knowledge in this area; and to consider legal obligations and practices, such as those outlined in the Equality Act 2010. The EQIA concluded that the Bill's provisions are neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory on the basis of age, disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, and marriage and civil partnership. No mitigating action is therefore required.
3. The EQIA did identify potential positive outcomes impacts of the Bill for some protected groups. A new enterprise body growing the economy of the South through inclusive growth and a commitment to fair work could increase employment and skills opportunities for groups currently less likely to be economically active in the workplace. As such, it has been decided that some high-level equality principles should be embedded in SOSE's working cultures and values. This will be taken forward as the delivery of the organisation takes shape.
4. Once established, the body itself will be subject to the public sector equality duty, which requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out activities. The specific duties that underpin the public sector equality duty ensure equality is integrated into all the body's functions by including requirements to: report on mainstreaming the equality duty; assess and review policies and practices; publish equality outcomes and report progress; and collect and use employee data. All of these duties will help to ensure that equality is integrated into the new body. In addition, the body will need to actively consider how it could reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage to meet the Fairer Scotland Duty. SOSE itself would also be an employer and as such would be expected to commit not only to abiding by its statutory equality duties, but to embedding fair work within its own workplace culture.
5. The Bill does not breach any convention rights embodied within the European Convention on Human Rights, and nor does it give rise to any issues under the various UN treaties that have been ratified by the UK, which the new body will give due regard too. A separate Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment has been undertaken to specifically consider the impact of the Bill on the UN Rights of the Child.
6. The Bill will create a new enterprise body to operate in the south of Scotland, defined as the local authority areas of Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. This takes forward the Phase 1 commitment of the Enterprise and Skills Review to explore "how best to create the new vehicle to meet the needs of the South of Scotland including clarifying its boundaries and the locally-based support it will deliver", and the recommendation of Phase 2 to create a new public body through primary legislation. It also responds to a longstanding argument that a national approach to growth does not meet the needs of the south of Scotland. The commitment was confirmed in the Programme for Government and that the new body should be established from 1 April 2020.
7. Establishing SOSE will contribute to the Scottish Government's solidarity and cohesion targets as it helps to drive economic growth in an area of Scotland that faces particular economic challenges and has traditionally lagged behind the country as a whole. It will also deliver activity to support and sustain communities' resilience and growth.
8. Specifically, creating SOSE will contribute to the following national outcomes:
- we have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy;
- we are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally;
- we tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally;
- we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe;
- we are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society; and
- we have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone.
9. SOSE will have a key role in supporting inclusive growth and fair work in the region, ensuring an approach tailored to the region's challenges and opportunities and recognising the region's distinctiveness. It is an opportunity to tackle inequality at all levels and address exclusion, responding to the barriers preventing people participating in the economy, so they can enjoy inclusive growth and access opportunities.
10. Overarching policy aims for SOSE were developed in consultation with stakeholders and focus on three overarching aims:
- maximising the area's contribution to Scotland's inclusive growth, supporting a diverse and resilient economy;
- sustaining and growing communities – building and strengthening communities with joined up economic and community support; and
- harnessing the potential of people and resources – developing skills, promoting assets and resources and maximising the impact of investment in the area.
11. The new body could therefore potentially undertake a range of activities which would have a direct and indirect impact upon those living, studying and working in the south of Scotland. The Bill, however, does not specify detailed operational activities for the body. Once established, the specific duties that underpin the public sector equality duty will be integrated into all of the body's functions. It is expected that SOSE will develop its own programme of activities, and that it will carry out its own equality impact assessments on its plans.
12. This EQIA has been developed in consultation with internal Scottish Government stakeholders, as well as with various equality organisations, including the Equality & Human Rights Commission in Scotland. We have liaised with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the process of establishing this policy, including individuals, businesses, third sector organisations and public sector partners. Some of these relationships have been through the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, in which public sector organisations join with third-sector and private sector representatives to trial new approaches for the South and pave the way for SOSE.
13. We carried out a public consultation from March to June 2018, in which we specifically asked for comments on things SOSE could do to promote equalities. As part of the consultation process, a series of 26 engagement events were organised by a community group based in the South. These events took place in a variety of community based venues in 21 different towns across the area, ensuring that stakeholders from across the region had the opportunity to hear about the proposals for the new body and contribute their ideas in person. In a further bid to increase accessibility for as diverse an audience as possible, the events went ahead in both morning and early evening slots.
14. There was a total of 268 responses to the online consultation. 153 responses were from individuals and 115 responses from organisations. 87% of respondents agreed with the Scottish Government's ambition for the south of Scotland, part of which was outlined as identifying and tackling the barriers to inclusive growth. Many respondents highlighted that their ambition for the South was to have an economy that is growing, socially inclusive and tackles inequality. A report on the response to the public consultation was published on 3 October 2018 and can be found at https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/10/9556
15. The online consultation specifically asked respondents to discuss ways in which SOSE could deliver opportunity and growth in the south of Scotland through:
- promoting equality for people who share one or more protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010;
- combating discrimination; and
- fostering good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
16. Respondents offered a variety of suggestions, including training of the body's staff on equalities, funding existing bodies that work with protected groups, and monitoring businesses to ensure they promote equality and combat discrimination. These activities are largely for the new body to consider, with each new product and service undergoing its own EQIA process. All comments on equality, as well as any concerns and issues, raised during the consultation and engagement with stakeholders will be shared with the new body and given full consideration as the work to develop the detail of the structure, operations and activities of the new body is taken forward.
17. The EQIA process identified no areas in which the Bill will negatively impact on protected groups, and several areas in which it could have a positive impact. It also highlighted a lack of data regarding some protected groups in the south of Scotland which warrants further exploration.
18. The EQIA established that there is limited information available on employment and skills opportunities in the South for some protected groups. In particular, the research identified gaps around pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment and marriage and civil parnership. Meaningful data was also not available for some protected groups (gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, race, and sexual orientation) in relation to their economic activity rate in the south of Scotland. However, the EQIA identified no detrimental effect of the policy to these groups either. SOSE may wish to work with other bodies to gather this data itself. A summary of data gaps along with suggestions for where this data might be sourced will be passed on to the body once it is operational.
19. The south of Scotland has an ageing population, with a lower proportion of young and working-age people relative to the Scottish average. 15% of the population in Dumfries and Galloway and 14% of the population in the Scottish Borders are aged 20-34, compared to 20% of the Scottish population overall. Further, population estimates predict that the working age population will stay static or fall further across the south of Scotland in the near future, while it rises slightly in Scotland as a whole.
20. We do not have exact data on how much of this demographic shift is due to young people leaving the south of Scotland, and how much is due to working-age people from outside the South being less likely to move to the area than they are to some other parts of Scotland. Both were raised as issues by stakeholders. The EQIA identified no negative impacts of the Bill on people due to age.
21. Across Scotland, people with disabilities are significantly less likely to be in employment and are significantly less likely to have educational qualifications, than those without disabilities. People with disabilities are also significantly more likely to live in poverty, and to face challenges to being economically active due to a lack of suitable housing. The EQIA identified no negative impacts of the Bill on people with disabilities.
22. A gap presently exists between men and women in employment and economic activity in the south of Scotland. While the overall employment and economic activity rate for women does compare favourably to the Scottish average, there is still a considerable gap when compared with figures for men in the area. The proportion of female modern apprentices is also lower in the South than nationally.
23. Potential barriers identified were a lack of suitable childcare, occupational segregation (both in terms of sector and in terms of full-time vs. part-time work), caring responsibilities falling disproportionately on women, and a high level of male self-employment leading to female partners in part-time or support roles in order to manage childcare. The EQIA identified no negative impacts of the Bill on women.
Other groups with protected characteristics - race, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, and sexual orientation
24. The EQIA identified no negative impact of the creation of the new body on groups with other protected characteristics (race, pregnancy & maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation). However, due to the lack of data on the relative economic activity rates for these protected groups in the south of Scotland, the EQIA was also unable to identify specific issues and areas for intervention.
Potential for positive impact
25. Whilst the EQIA did not identify any negative impact from the Bill on any of the groups with protected characteristics, it highlighted that the new body could have a positive impact on all groups in the following ways:
- equality checking all products and services to ensure that they eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation due to having any protected characteristics;
- reporting on mainstreaming the equality duty, publishing equality outcomes and reporting progress;
- reducing discrimination in employment by ensuring that the business community upholds equality law through any business support services it provides;
- undertaking specific activities to increase economic opportunities for those with protected characteristics in the area; and
- delivering activities to sustain and grow communities, and through this promoting good relations among and between those with protected characteristics and those without.
Recommendations and Conclusion
26. The EQIA process has helped to consider the potential positive and negative impacts of the Bill, and by extension the creation of SOSE, on those with protected equality characteristics. The EQIA concluded that the Bill's provisions are neither directly nor directly discriminatory on the basis of age, disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, and marriage and civil partnership.
27. The EQIA process did identify potential positive outcomes of the Bill for some groups with protected characteristics in terms of the products and activities that the new body could offer. The legal framework provided by the Bill enables SOSE to deliver a range of support to deliver its aims but does not specify detailed operational activities for the new body. Work is being taken forward to develop the detail of the structure and operations of the new body, and the detailed activities of the new body will be operational decisions taken by its Board. All comments and suggestions in relation to equalities will be passed onto the new body to consider.
28. Overall, a new enterprise body growing the economy of the South through inclusive growth and a commitment to fair work could increase employment and skills opportunities for groups currently less likely to be economically active in the workplace. As a public body, it will be subject to the public sector equality duty, which requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out activities. As such, although it would not be appropriate to specify SOSE's activities, it has been accepted that some high-level equality principles should be embedded in the new body and this will be taken forward as the policy develops.
South of Scotland Team, Business Engagement & Regional Economic Development
25 October 2018
Email: Karen Jackson