Human rights in the UK: Universal Periodic Review, 2017 – Scottish Government position

Scottish Government position statement on Scotland’s performance against key international human rights obligations.

9. Gender equality, disabled people and older persons

Equality in the workplace

The Scottish Government has taken action to address the inequalities that women experience in relation to work; new measures to improve the representation of women in senior and decision making roles; initiatives to challenge the gender imbalance in STEM; and steps to strengthen the government's response to all forms of violence against women and girls. In addition, the Scottish Government has committed to establish an Advisory Council for Women and Girls.

Using new powers transferred to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Government has committed to bring forward legislation to improve the representation of women on the boards of public bodies in Scotland. The Scottish Government also continues to champion the Partnership for Change 50/50 by 2020 campaign, launched in June 2015, which encourages public, private and third sector organisations to work towards gender balance on their own boards by 2020.

Gender pay gap

The gender pay gap for full-time employees in Scotland decreased from 7.7% in 2015 to 6.2% in 2016. Scotland's public sector pay policies require public bodies to ensure that pay is fair and non-discriminatory, and the Scottish Government continues to support work to raise awareness and encourage action by employees and employers to tackle the causes of pay inequality:

  • providing £205,000 to Close the Gap in 2016-17 to challenge and change employment practices and workplace cultures
  • introduced a National Indicator ('Reduce the pay gap') to monitor performance in tackling the various drivers of the pay gap
  • reduced the threshold for listed public authorities to report their gender pay gap and publish statements on equal pay and occupational segregation, from those with more than 150 employees to those with more than 20 employees

Early learning and childcare

The CYP (Scotland) Act 2014 increased the amount of funded early learning and childcare to 600 hours per year for all 3-4-year olds. This has been extended to over a quarter of 2-year olds who may benefit most, including those with a parent in receipt of out of work benefits or on low income; and those who are looked after, the subject of a kinship care order, or with a parent appointed guardian. The Scottish Government is committed to increasing the amount of funded early learning and childcare for 3 and 4-year olds and eligible 2-year olds to 1,140 hours by 2020.

Disabled people

On 2 December 2016 the Scottish Government published a Disability Delivery Plan ( DDP), A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People , [85] which will work to remove the barriers disabled people can face when it comes to finding and sustaining employment, and developing their careers. The Scottish Government is also developing a framework to support disabled children and their families. To ensure that everybody who can and wants to work has the opportunity to find fulfilling jobs, suitable to their skills, the Scottish Government is working with its partners, for example its national skills agency Skills Development Scotland to make Modern Apprenticeships more open, attractive and available to people with disabilities.

Other measures to increase the number of disabled people in the workforce and to half the disability employment gap include:

  • the development and delivery of devolved employment services in Scotland from April 2017
  • further promoting and supporting the delivery of the supported employment model
  • Developing the Young Workforce - Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy
  • Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland
  • autism and learning disabilities strategies
  • developing internships and piloting work experience for disabled young people

Older people

In 2016-17 the Scottish Government provided funding of over £535,000 to older people's organisations and third sector organisations to tackle barriers to independent living experienced by older people and to promote older people's rights. Significant resources are also being provided to tackle loneliness and social isolation, including the £500,000 Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund (2016-17), which focuses on support for community-based projects tackling social isolation. Thirty-six organisations have been successful in receiving grants from this fund. In addition, the concessionary travel scheme for older and disabled people provides health and wellbeing benefits and is a major contributor to tackling loneliness and isolation. During 2017, a National Social Isolation Strategy will be developed to ensure a holistic approach across government to problems of loneliness and isolation.

Through Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants, the Scottish Welfare Fund ( SWF) assists those on a low income in need to overcome a crisis or emergency, or to settle or remain in their own home where there is risk of an individual needing to go into care institutions. It can also assist those coming from longer term care to enable establishment in the community.

Public funding for older people's (over 65s) social care services has increased by 33% under the current Scottish Government, from £1.02 billion in 2006-7 to £1.35 billion in 2014-15, and overall expenditure on adult social care and social work services has increased by 29% over the same period, from £2.3 billion to £2.97 billion. The Scottish Government has protected and grown social care spending in Scotland, and remains committed to the provision of free personal and nursing care for over 65s in Scotland, which benefits around 77,000 people each year. The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 [86] requires local integration of adult health and social care services to ensure that those who use services get the right care and support, whatever their needs, at any point in their care journey. Partnerships are placing a greater emphasis on community-based and more joined-up, anticipatory and preventative care. The Scottish Government is working with local authorities, providers, disabled people and other partners to deliver reform to adult social care. This will consider the commissioning of residential care and the role of new models of care and support in home care, and will enable progress towards the aim to end "time and task" based care and shift to care that focuses on achieving independent living for people who use social care services.

In Summer 2017 the Scottish Government will also consult on the terms of a future review of long-term care capacity. The voices and experiences of service users, including disabled people and the organisations that represent them, will be at the centre of these reforms and will shape planning and implementation and improve outcomes.

Self-directed support

The National Self-Directed Support Strategy 2010-2020 [87] is a joint Scottish Government and COSLA plan, dedicated to driving forward the personalisation of social care in Scotland. Self-directed support is founded upon the human-rights based values and principles of dignity, empowerment and collaboration, and stipulates that a human rights based approach needs to be at the forefront of assessments for social care provision and the resulting support. In April 2014 the Scottish Government enacted the Social Care (Self-directed Support) Act 2013, [88] introducing a new approach which gives adults, children and carers who require social care support more choice and control over how their support is delivered. This makes sure individuals are empowered to be equal partners in their care and support decisions and to participate in social and economic life.


The Scottish Government's third three-year National Dementia Strategy [89] will focus on ensuring more people are diagnosed earlier; rolling out Scotland's distinctive post-diagnostic service offer of a year's worth of support co-ordinated by a Link Worker; integrated home care; and developing palliative and end of life services.


Email: David Holmes

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Back to top