Report on the 2013/14 Draft Budget

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The Scottish Government's Draft Budget for 2013-14

The Committee reports to the Finance Committee as follows—

APPROACH

1. Our approach this year is, as in previous years, to promote consideration of the impact of spending allocations across all relevant portfolios with reference to an equality mainstreaming objective, through—

  • an overarching perspective on the equality impact of the resource allocation process;

  • a survey-based analysis of mainstreaming in budget processes;

  • a cross-cutting view of equalities impacts in portfolio areas, via other committees’ draft budget scrutiny.

2. To assist us in our work this year, we appointed an external adviser, Ailsa McKay, Professor of Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University.

3. We thank all those who contributed oral and written evidence to our inquiry.

The overarching perspective

4. Our role is to take an overarching perspective, looking at the equality impact of the Scottish Government’s approach to the resource allocation process and the associated outcomes. Furthermore, to inform and link with our forthcoming inquiry into women and work, we agreed to emphasize gender in our approach to scrutiny of the Draft Budget 2013-14. Moreover, that emphasis complements previous work highlighting both the economic costs of the continued saga of managing unequal pay in local authorities and the cost to the public purse of persistent patterns of occupational segregation in the context of the Modern Apprenticeship programme.

5. With that perspective in mind, we agreed an approach to scrutiny that would be framed largely around—

a) What evidence is there that progress has been made in ‘embedding’ equality considerations throughout the budget process?

b) How do the spending plans contribute to the growth purpose in the context of the national performance framework? In particular, what indicators, beyond GDP growth, are currently employed as a measure of ‘success’ with reference to economic performance? Are the indicators used a determining factor in decisions on how growth is to be achieved and subsequently a key feature in informing spending plans?

c) How do the spending plans promote the position of women within the labour market and contribute positively to enhanced economic security for women workers?

6. On 4 October, we took oral evidence from —

  • Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC);

  • Jackie Brierton, Director, Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES);

  • Angela O'Hagan, Convenor, Scottish Women's Budget Group (SWBG);

  • Linda Somerville, Director, Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology;

  • Claire Telfer, Policy & Advocacy Manager, Save the Children.

7. Discussion focused on exploring how ‘gender’ as a significant variable has featured in the process of drawing up the spending plans across all relevant portfolios contained in the Draft Budget. We followed that session with, on 25 October, oral evidence from John Swinney MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (“the Cabinet Secretary”). The Cabinet Secretary also supplied supplementary written evidence1 to us; unfortunately, we received it at the very end of our consideration of our draft report. We shall, however, take it into account in our forthcoming Women and Work inquiry.

Mainstreaming in budget processes

8. Our work on last year’s draft budget revealed concerns about whether mainstreaming principles were being applied effectively – i.e. whether public funds distributed in accordance with a mainstreaming approach continue to reach equality groups effectively. In light of those concerns and in preparation for this year’s work, we undertook a survey of public sector organisations on the role of equalities in their respective budget processes. We asked local authorities, NHS boards, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Skills Development Scotland, VisitScotland and Transport Scotland about—

  • the role of equalities in each organisation’s budgeting process;

  • the equalities impact of mainstream services (services that are available to all groups, including equalities groups);

  • the equalities impact of any services specifically designed for equalities groups;

  • progress in mainstreaming equalities and how impact is monitored.

Equalities impacts in portfolio areas

9. As we state above, our approach is to promote consideration of the impact of spending allocations across all relevant portfolios with reference to an equality mainstreaming objective. Thus, all subject committees should incorporate an equalities dimension in their scrutiny activity, as set out in the Finance Committee’s Guidance to the subject committees, the Equal Opportunities Committee and the European and External Relations Committee2. The outcome of that work permits us to take a cross-cutting view of equalities impacts within portfolio areas.

THE OVERARCHING PERSPECTIVE

Embedding Equality throughout the Budgetary Process: questioning the ‘value added’ of the Equality Statement

10. The publication of the Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 (“the Equality Statement”) makes this year’s draft budget the fourth to be accompanied by an equality statement. According to the Cabinet Secretary3, the value of the Equality Statement is in its role—

  • as a tool to assist with the scrutiny of our spending decisions,
  • as a means of demonstrating the place of equality considerations at the heart of the budgetary process,
  • as a commentary on the equality impact of our spending plans, and
  • as a reflection of our drive for equality, improved outcomes and continuous improvement in public services in Scotland.

Process

11. We sought evidence from participants in our inquiry, including the Cabinet Secretary, of the actual ‘process’ involved in drawing up the Equality Statement, the role of EBAG in that process and evidence of how the process demonstrates, in a practical sense, the Scottish Government’s position that “equality considerations have a central place in policy development and the preparation of spending plans”4.

12. We heard in evidence of how the Equality Statement is very much viewed as positive progress in adopting a more equality-focused approach to the budget process in Scotland and as such is to be welcomed and indeed applauded. We would therefore like to emphasise the significance of the Equality Statement in demonstrating progress with an overall approach to equalities and would share the view expressed by witnesses. With respect to budget scrutiny, we would welcome reassurance that the Equality Budget Statement is now considered an integral feature of the budget process.

13. However, we heard evidence that the Equality Statement is very much a ‘work in progress’ and, as Angela O’Hagan, SWBG, indicated, there is significant room for improvement—

“…it continues to be a narrative accompaniment that simply states the context of budgetary and policy decisions—it is clear that it is not an equality impact assessment of the budget; indeed, it says itself that it is a commentary on the budget—and although we certainly want it to move far beyond that, now that it is in its fourth iteration we can see the year-on-year change in the narrative and how the messages themselves are changing.”5

14. Similarly, Stephen Boyd, STUC, commented—

“Although it is obviously a serious piece of work and a lot of time and effort has gone into its preparation, it does not say very much about impacts. Over time, we will have to move to a situation where the document tells us about the impact of spend on the issues that we are discussing.”6

15. The Cabinet Secretary highlighted the significance of the Equality and Budgets Advisory Group (EBAG) in informing the Government’s approach to the resource allocation process—

“In each of the three years since the publication of the first equality budget statement, we have strengthened our approach to incorporating equality into the main budget structures and processes and improved our evidence base. We appreciate that we have further work to do in the period ahead. I am again grateful to the Equality and Budget Advisory Group (EBAG), which has, for a number of years, provided valuable insight into the wider equalities and economic context relevant to the budget process. EBAG’s 2010 report Equality Analysis in the Budget and Spending Review 2011 Onward continues to inform the changes we have made, and continue to make, to our approach and procedures.”7

Measures to tackle underlying issues of gender inequality

16. In exploring the role of EBAG in the process and the mechanisms/analysis employed in incorporating an equalities perspective with regard to spending allocations, we discussed with witnesses on 4 October process issues. We heard from witnesses that there appears to be little evidence in the Draft Budget documents of specific measures aimed at tackling the “underlying issues of gender inequality”, despite a recognized need for such stated explicitly in the Equality Statement8.

17. The SWBG Convenor provided written commentary9 criticising the Equality Statement’s position that “significant issues of concern for equality groups have not changed substantially from our analysis for Spending Review 2011"10. Given that analysis for the Spending Review was based on an EBAG report dating from two years ago, we explored that position11. As we heard, in that time period, thousands more women have lost jobs, have experienced reductions in pay benefits and UK Government tax credits, have had crucial services withdrawn, and have witnessed increases in living costs.

18. We sought assurances that these issues, particularly relevant in assessing the position of women in the economy, remain at the forefront of debate as austerity measures continue to dominate the public spending landscape. The Cabinet Secretary subsequently told us—

“I make that statement not to suggest that nothing has changed but to say that the issues that we raised in the spending review—the issues of which we were aware—remain issues of concern. It does not in any way suggest that the challenge has not become greater. It is just that the issues that we identified when we constructed the equality statement for the budget in 2011 are the concerns that we had when we wrote the present statement.

“Those concerns were about the degree of public sector financial consolidation, the pressures that that would create on employment in the public sector and the consequential pressures on incomes in the public sector. However, as I explained a moment ago in my answer to Mr Biagi, we have taken action to try to mitigate those effects. The comment in the equality statement is designed to reiterate the fact that we consider ourselves to be in the same territory of difficulty.”12

19. We welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s recognition of the fact that spending cuts are having a very significant negative impact on public sector employment and incomes. In particular, we also welcome the fact that the disproportionate impact on women workers in Scotland’s economy has been recognised by the Scottish Government, in previous budget documents. For example, in 2010, the draft budget stated—

“Scotland continues to carry deep rooted and systemic inequalities that can hold people back. These barriers are especially evident in labour market participation, income and health. Women, for example, are already disadvantaged by unequal pay and occupational segregation resulting from society’s assumptions about the roles of men and women.”13

20. And, in 2011, the Cabinet Secretary again stated his views—

“… while the Scottish economy has moved out of recession, the pace and sustainability of recovery remains unclear. … processes of welfare reform and of public sector funding adjustment … now threaten to deepen established inequalities in Scotland’s economic landscape ... In Scotland’s labour market, there has been a continued shift out of economic inactivity for both women and disabled people, against a backdrop of decreasing unemployment across most age groups. Amongst our unemployed young people, those with few/no qualifications remain ill equipped in terms of financial resilience.

“Although more women in Scotland are becoming economically active, single mothers, who are on the lowest incomes, are the poorest qualified, have the weakest financial resilience, and are set to be disproportionately and negatively affected by the UK Government welfare reform measures.”14

21. We note the impacts felt by women as public-sector workers or by women who rely on key public-sector services that are being reduced or withdrawn as a result of spending cuts. We recognise that no-compulsory redundancy policies and the Scottish Government’s approach to pay aim to mitigate some of the worst impacts on women workers in the public sector. With regard to the emerging evidence of significant impacts on women of sustained and prolonged spending cuts, however, we would like to see further evidence of spending plans and associated policies aimed at mitigating these impacts. We find this to be of particular concern when there appears to be a firm commitment to incorporate equality considerations throughout the process. As the Cabinet Secretary pointed out to us—

“… every year we go through an orderly budget process that brings us to an orderly conclusion while along the way taking into account our obligations and aspirations with regard to equalities, tackling climate change and ensuring that our measures are consistent with the national performance framework, to which I attach significant importance … However, I assure the committee that, throughout the process, I am applying four different tests to the budget, the first of which is the rather fundamental question whether it will balance ... The other tests are whether the budget is consistent with our national performance framework; whether it fulfils our equalities obligations; and whether it supports our climate change objectives. Those are the four main tests that I apply constantly to our measures. During the budget process, I have different discussions with colleagues on those issues. I meet officials to test where we are in relation to different landmarks in the process to guarantee that we are taking the correct steps.”15

Public spending cuts: the impact on women workers

22. In exploring the impact of public spending cuts on women workers in the public sector, we heard of concerns relating to equal pay in local authorities, which remains unresolved with significant mounting costs not least from associated legal action. We note that there has been a long series of parliamentary inquiries on this topic – such as the Session 2 Finance Committee’s Report on the Financial Implications of the Local Authority Single Status Agreement16, the Session 3 Finance Committee’s Report on Public Sector Pay17, the Session 3 Local Government and Communities Committee’s Equal Pay in Local Government18 and previous Equal Opportunities Committee budget scrutiny. We note that all local authorities have the same obligations on equal pay. We would therefore like to see more evidence, either in the Draft Budget or through other initiatives, of the Scottish Government taking action to ensure those obligations are met and can be met by all local authorities. This is of particular concern in an environment of prolonged and significant public spending cuts.

23. Furthermore, we heard of a number of areas of concern regarding the impact of spending cuts on the position of women in the labour market. The priority given to this particular issue is evident from the high-level political support for the Women and Employment summit 2012, attended by the First Minister, the Deputy First Minister and the Minister for Youth Employment. We welcome the announcement at the summit of significant investment in Careerwise but we are concerned about the impact of certain spending decisions, in particular, access and retention issues for women in employment and persistent patterns of occupational segregation in the labour market. With respect to budget scrutiny, we are concerned about the longer-term costs to the economy of—

  • the withdrawal of public funding for computer clubs for girls19;
  • cutbacks in Skills Development Scotland, leading to limited careers advice in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (“STEM”) areas20;
  • the ‘leaky pipeline’21 in STEM, whereby women trained to work in STEM sectors seek careers outwith the sector, thus presenting a huge loss in skilled labour to the economy. There is a related lack of opportunities for business start‑ups for women in STEM industries, owing to lack of affordable finance and limited social capital;
  • the lack of provision within Scottish education for good quality work experience22;
  • the process23 of ‘valuing’ particular occupations and how that feeds into the Modern Apprenticeship programme and the subsequent undervaluing of what is traditionally perceived to be ‘women’s work’24;
  • the fact that there is no obligation on local authorities to run their Business Gateway schemes with any women-in-business focus25,
  • the findings of a 2011 Save the Children survey that a quarter of parents on very low incomes had to give up work because they could not find affordable or accessible childcare, with a third of parents on low incomes turning down jobs because they could not access the required childcare26.

24. Although not all of those issues result directly from spending cuts, we would like to see evidence that those issues are being addressed, by the Scottish Government, local authorities and other public bodies, via relevant policy initiatives and any associated spending allocations. We highlight these points with respect to current spending allocations but also in the context of monitoring future spending plans in addressing the significant barriers that exist for women with reference to career choice, access to employment and sustained participation in the paid labour market.

Issues regarding the availability of reliable, accurate and Scotland-relevant data

25. Having regard to the process of future monitoring with respect to equalities, we heard about issues in the availability of reliable, accurate and Scotland-relevant evidence. In a discussion focused on persistent patterns of occupational segregation in the Scottish Modern Apprenticeship programme, Stephen Boyd, STUC, highlighted the problems associated with the lack of reliable data—

“Our work on the labour market is consistently frustrated by the lack of quality information at Scotland level. That is primarily an issue for the Office for National Statistics rather than the Scottish Government. I know that the Scottish Government pushes the ONS, and indeed funds it, to produce more Scotlandified statistics but, to be frank, the ONS fails to do that.

“The trajectory of male and female unemployment during the recession has had interesting fluctuations, but it is difficult to get to the bottom of that. In particular, a trend has been developing in the past two or three reports that show women’s unemployment falling again and male unemployment rising. When we do not have decent sectoral information in Scotland, let alone decent sectoral information at regional level, it is difficult to describe why that is happening, which is a concern to us all. The Scottish Government should be mindful that addressing that failure could have budgetary implications, although it might just involve working more closely with the ONS to ensure that it gives us all that it can give us. However, we really need to get to the bottom of that.”27

26. The lack of relevant data was further highlighted by Jackie Brierton of WES in a discussion on the business support function of Scottish Enterprise—

“… [Scottish Enterprise’s] submission to the budget process, which was signed off by the chief executive officer, made no mention of the way in which the organisation allocates business support and development. The organisation makes no attempt to look at how that impacts on equality. It mentions a couple of projects, such as close the gap and science, engineering and technology initiatives, but it mentions nothing about how it allocates money not just to its account-managed businesses, but to the programmes that it administers, such as regional selective assistance, the co-investment fund and the proof of concept fund, which involve hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Having tried to get information from the agency in the past, we know that it does not gender disaggregate the beneficiaries of such funds, so it has no idea how the money that it puts out is allocated … We have some of the same issues with budget allocation by business gateway. For example, we know that the number of woman-owned businesses that business gateway helps has reduced in the past five years. It is difficult to get figures from business gateway. A major issue is that it is not obliged to provide gender-disaggregated data, which should have been part of the contract from day 1.”28

27. In light of that evidence, we sought assurances from the Cabinet Secretary as to the nature of compliance with specific regard to the activities of Scottish Enterprise, the main economic development agency, and how that is consistent with the Scottish Government’s overall approach to promoting an equalities agenda throughout the budget process—

“First, given that all public bodies have to comply with requirements in equalities legislation, there is no question of choice here for Scottish Enterprise. The organisation is obliged and required by statute to comply with all equality assessments.

“Secondly, an equality impact assessment methodology is applied to all Scottish Enterprise’s projects and programmes internally and externally, and I am sure that in addition to the information that it has already submitted its chief executive will furnish the committee with detailed information on how that work is carried out. That methodology focuses on ensuring that Scottish Enterprise fully complies with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and does not discriminate against any protected group.

“Scottish Enterprise very recently carried out an equality impact assessment of its account-managed function, which is essentially the core function that ministers require it to undertake … in 2007 the Government gave Scottish Enterprise and HIE a much more focused remit and responsibility to provide dedicated support to a range of account-managed companies in the country—in other words, companies that had growth potential. About 4,000 companies in total across both networks are directly supported by the enterprise bodies in relation to business development and support, and that principal function of Scottish Enterprise has been assessed to ensure that equalities issues are being properly taken into account.”29

28. We note the Cabinet Secretary’s comments but we remain concerned that the lack of any robust gender-disaggregated data from ONS will hinder the effective targeting of business development and support funding. In particular we are concerned about the apparent lack of recognition of the very gendered aspect of business support needs and how that may result in a lack of tailored support for women’s enterprise which itself has been identified as a key driver of growth.

Modern Apprenticeships

29. With specific respect to current spending allocations, we heard of the problems associated with the lack of relevant data relating to the funding allocated to the Modern Apprenticeship programme. The Cabinet Secretary told us about the “deep-seated issues to do with imbalance in the labour market”30 and of the Scottish Government’s commitment to addressing those imbalances—

“First, it is important to put on record that nothing in the design of the modern apprenticeship schemes inherently prevents women from fully participating in any of those programmes. We are wrestling with and trying to counter a deeper issue in our economy of very traditional forms of employment segregation.

“That brings us back to a number of points that I have already made about initiatives that we are putting in place, such as careerwise, that encourage more women to become involved in science, engineering and technology. Our focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics—or STEM—activities in the school curriculum, particularly through curriculum for excellence, is a very important attempt to change at an early stage the traditional perceptions of what are appropriate destinations for women in the labour market. After all, such perceptions have to be tackled.”31

30. The increase in the number of women participating in the MA programme – up 16% from 2008-09 – was given as an example of progress in this area.32 Angela O’Hagan, SWBG, and Linda Somerville, Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, both commented on the lack of transparency regarding funding and on the need for further clarification. Angela O’Hagan said—

“… when we look at how modern apprenticeships are constructed, they vary in duration and there is not a single unit cost for a modern apprenticeship qualification at the different levels. There is a whole funding mix in there that it would be good to shine a light on, in order that we could explore some of those issues.”33

31. Linda Somerville explained further—

“…it is important that we look at where the spend is for men and women in the apprenticeships programme. Many women will take up lower-level qualifications, which take less time. They might take up six and 12-month apprenticeships, as opposed to three and four-year apprenticeships. It is not about the percentages; it is about where the spend is.”34

32. Therefore, a simple headcount takes no account of the spending allocation imbalance and how it perpetuates or even reinforces gender-based occupational segregation in the wider labour market.

33. Witnesses also argued that there were negative consequences on the economy overall. Linda Somerville told us—

“One of our key findings is that many women who are trained in science, engineering or technology no longer work in those areas. In Scotland, only 27 per cent of women who are qualified in those areas currently work in them, which is a huge loss. We have free public education services, and we have put a massive amount of public resource into training people who no longer work in those areas. We must find ways to stop that leakage from the pipeline, as it is often described.”35

34. Claire Telfer said—

“On … [the] point about childcare becoming part of the infrastructure in Scotland, the scope of the proposals is limited. Although we recognise that the proposals are good and we welcome the direction, we need to look at the budget process and how we can take further steps over the longer term to address issues around childcare—not just care for young children, but out-of-school care as well. Unless we do that, we are essentially forcing a lot of parents—particularly women, who are disproportionately represented in low-income groups—to stay in low-income households and live on low incomes. We are perhaps even forcing them into poverty or even deeper poverty. We need to consider whether that is the case as part of the budget process, because if we are not addressing those barriers, what impact will that have on other services that support those families? We know that child poverty costs public services in Scotland just under about £2 billion every year, and that is probably an underestimate given the context, which is of rising child poverty over the next few years.

“We welcome the commitments from the Scottish Government, including in the budget, around extending childcare support for families, but we need to look at how we can take that further. Perhaps the committee can look at that in the context of supporting women into work—particularly in the light of some of the discussions at the women’s employment summit—because we also know that in countries where women’s employment is higher, child poverty tends to be lower. In a briefing that we produced recently with the women in Scotland’s economy research centre those links appear to be very clear in Scotland as well, so we really need to look at addressing that issue in the longer term.”36

35. In considering the particular issues around occupational segregation and funding to the Modern Apprenticeship programme, we remain concerned about the apparent lack of transparency and how it can be consistent with the priority given to equality considerations throughout the budget process. Modern Apprenticeships are funded through contribution rates from Skills Development Scotland, which vary depending on the occupational framework of the Modern Apprenticeship and the age of the Modern Apprentice. At present, the contribution rates and pay rates associated with each occupational framework are not accessible publically—

“… it would be very helpful if the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland could publish regular information on starts on, and outcomes of, the Modern Apprenticeship programme and for specific information to be collected for groups under-represented in the labour market.”37

36. This information could be critical to potential Modern Apprentices when making choices about future careers, and could therefore help to de-segregate Modern Apprenticeships that are currently dominated by one or other gender.

37. We seek clarity as to what reporting mechanisms funding agencies are required to adhere to with respect to the promotion of, the recruitment and the performance of Modern Apprenticeships. Providing evidence of the gender breakdown of Modern Apprenticeship places, funding allocation by gender and information on the gender pay gap in Modern Apprenticeships would be consistent with the framework required for equal pay reporting in the public sector and commensurate with the commitment to progress equal pay.

38. In discussion focused on the funding allocations to the Modern Apprenticeship programme and the impact of patterns of occupational segregation on the wider economy, we noted that actions to address occupational segregation by gender are often aimed at promoting women’s participation in traditionally male dominated areas such as construction and engineering. There is less emphasis on increasing the number of men undertaking traditionally female occupations such as childcare. This approach is unbalanced. We thus seek assurance that future spending plans will support actions to promote occupational de-segregation and will include men and boys as a target group. This would effectively aid in addressing the low rates of pay in traditionally women-dominated occupations.

How do the spending plans contribute to a ‘growth’ purpose as defined by the National Performance Framework?

39. We heard from witnesses of a lack of evidence relating to the actual impact that the shift in spend from resource to capital since the 2011 Spending Review has had on jobs and growth. Angela O’Hagan told us—

“In this year’s budget, there is, once again, huge emphasis on capital investment—the shovel-ready projects. The question that the Scottish women’s budget group has for the committee and the Government is this: What are we achieving year on year with that reorientation of moneys within the budget towards capital investment? Is it saving, protecting or creating jobs and who benefits from that employment? What capital investment would work for women to address low pay, unequal pay, occupational segregation and the continuing squeeze out of the labour market that women in Scotland experience?”38

40. On the same point, Stephen Boyd said—

“One important issue where the budget might have a role to play concerns whether we really know what we are talking about. Do we have sufficient information? I am not sure that we do. On some of the measures … such as the shift from revenue to capital, do we know what the outcomes have been for jobs, for example, never mind knowing the gender disaggregation of those outcomes? I think that we do not.”39

41. He also highlighted in supplementary written evidence that “a policy which is essentially shifting demand from one part of the economy to another will not ultimately solve current economic challenges and is likely to have diminishing returns”40, and made a suggestion—

“… the STUC would suggest the Committee requests that the Scottish Government undertakes or commissions research to discern the overall impact on employment of these policies - and it is essential that the gender impact is central to this work. Such work could also help inform more effective modelling of the impacts of policy in the future"41

42. Linda Somerville added—

“If we are talking about measurement, evaluation and how the committee judges whether the budget is successful, the headline for the budget is about jobs and growth but we need to look at some of the statements on equalities that are in the Scottish Government’s national performance framework—and some of the statements that are not in there, particularly around the key performance indicators. The committee might want to pursue how we judge our success in travelling towards an equal society, which is an objective of the Scottish Government, and consider how we can identify better indicators within the national performance framework that will allow us to say whether we can measure anything around equalities.”42

43. Following that evidence, we explored with the Cabinet Secretary the claim that prioritizing capital spend has resulted in an increase in jobs and that any such increase has indeed offset the loss of jobs as a result of spending cuts in the public sector. We also sought evidence of the actual jobs created with respect to sector, type of contract and beneficiaries.

44. The Cabinet Secretary commented on the underlying assumption in support of the prioritizing of capital spend at least with respect to an overall growth purpose—

“The evidence is very clear from the labour market statistics between 2008-09 and 2010-11. In that period, I was able, in dialogue with the United Kingdom Government, to accelerate substantial amounts of capital investment. My strategy in 2008-09, when the private construction sector stopped activity almost overnight, was to replace that as much as I could with public sector construction activity. Through a series of dialogues with the UK Government, we came to agreement about how we could accelerate capital expenditure and ensure that it created a beneficial economic impact.

“We can see from the labour market data of that time a much slower rise in unemployment than we could ordinarily have expected from the economic shock that the economy took in 2008-09. My strategy was based on the assumption that, by 2010-11, the private sector would be recovering and therefore the consolidation of public sector finances could be done reasonably … I do not think that I was wrong to make that assumption, but my assumption and my prediction were wrong.”43

45. We appreciate the need to measure and monitor where economic growth occurs and how it is sustained if policy, and the subsequent spending allocations, are to be effectively targeted at ‘successful’ ventures/business activity.

46. However, from the range of evidence heard relating to relevant data, it would appear that various agencies involved in promoting economic development across Scotland, including the main enterprise bodies, are not collecting the robust and rigorous data that would allow for evaluation over the long term. We ask the Scottish Government and other public bodies to improve this situation and report an action plan to us.

47. In considering current spending allocations targeted at creating jobs and supporting growth, we refer back to the points made regarding occupational segregation in the wider labour market and the design and delivery of the Modern Apprenticeship programme, discussed in paragraph 38.

48. In view of those points made and the particular issue relating to the shift from resource to capital spend, we remain cognizant of the equality impact of such a strategy. In terms of the accelerated capital spending in 2008-09 and 2009-10, the Scottish Government’s 2010-11 Draft Budget explained that—

“… action taken to accelerate capital expenditure resulted in spending of £53m in 2008-09 and £294m in 2009-10 being brought forward to provide a much needed boost to our construction industry.”44

49. The total amount accelerated from 2010-11 to 2009-10 and 2008-09 equated to around 10 per cent of the original planned DEL capital budget for 2010-11, meaning that money was not available to spend in 2010-11. In the Scottish Government’s 2010 Economic Recovery Plan45, using its input-output model, the Government estimated that the accelerated capital investment “has supported over 5,000 jobs in the Scottish economy over the period, including over 3,000 jobs in the construction sector”. We welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s aim to generate positive spin-off effects from investment in the construction sector—

“I acknowledge that employment in the construction industry is male dominated, but I have also seen that construction activity tends to have a very broad effect within local economies, so construction activity spins off a whole range of other factors and inputs into the economy.”46

50. We note the priority that the Scottish Government has given to supporting the construction sector during the financial crisis, through the acceleration of significant amounts of capital spending, and the Cabinet Secretary’s admission that his prediction of a private sector recovery in the sector by 2010-11 proved to be wrong. We welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s openness and frankness. We invite him to comment on what basis the Scottish Government made the assumption that the private sector would recover by 2010-11 and what changes have been made to the basis of its economic decision-making for the future.

51. We further ask the Cabinet Secretary to provide the specific labour market data referred to in his response to us, broken down by gender impact. We believe that such data should be readily and routinely available, to assist in scrutiny and increase the visibility of the particular issues concerning employment patterns of women.

52. We would also like to see specific, practical examples of where and how prioritizing and accelerating capital spend has resulted in an increase in jobs. We recognize that this can be through both direct and wider impact, but believe that there should be clear evaluation of the sustainability of these jobs and their differentiation by gender. We believe this is particularly important, given the priority of supporting the construction sector, which employs relatively few women directly and provides economic benefits to women mainly through any overall multiplier effect.

Support for business

53. A crucial factor in supporting an overall growth strategy has been identified as support for business. However, we heard evidence from Jackie Brierton, WES, that the current mechanisms in place appear to be gender biased—

“Two months ago, a Women’s Enterprise Scotland survey found that a large proportion of the respondents wanted to grow their businesses rapidly, but their perception was that support was not available to help them to grow. They did not perceive that the services on the ground were for them, as it were. We know that only 4.7 per cent of Scottish Enterprise’s account-managed companies are female led. That is a tiny proportion of the allocated budget that Scottish Enterprise has to spend on support for businesses.

“To us, that means that a huge opportunity gap exists. If we focused more on attracting woman-owned businesses, that would have an impact on employment and skills development. As Linda Somerville pointed out, many women opt out of careers in science, engineering and technology, despite the fact that they have great qualifications, skills and ability. Some of those women start their own businesses, but they often start with disadvantages compared to their male counterparts because they have come out of their engineering or technical careers earlier and have less capital available and less social capital in terms of networking and contacts. That means that women often end up running much smaller businesses and find that their businesses cannot grow in the same way.”47

54. The Government’s economic strategy is clearly focused on promoting growth. However, the National Performance Framework indicates that growth is to be achieved with reference to indicators relating to solidarity and cohesion. The Cabinet Secretary reaffirmed this position in his evidence to us—

“Clearly, the Government’s approach in its economic strategy is about ensuring that we have a broad range of economic participation across all groupings. That is why we have an emphasis not only on economic growth but on cohesion, which is about ensuring that all population groups are able to participate in the economy, and on solidarity, to ensure that imbalances and inequalities are eradicated.”48

55. Given Jackie Brierton’s evidence, however, it is unclear to us how the spending plans will support business growth in such a way that promotes opportunities for all. Notwithstanding the Cabinet Secretary’s position that equalities have been embedded into the budget process, the Draft Budget contains no evidence of the application of gender impact analysis to the outcomes associated with spending to support business growth. Consequently this spending remains focused on a homogenous population, thus taking no account of the very gendered nature of activity centred around business enterprise. This is of particular importance, given the priority that the Scottish Government has placed on tackling women’s employment issues. We therefore ask for such evidence to be integrated into future years’ budget documents.

How do spending plans promote the position of women in the labour market?

56. Simply counting the number of jobs created is not an accurate or reliable indicator of ‘growth’. Evidence is required relating to sustainability, value added and job quality before a judgement can be made on the impact on overall social and economic objectives. Witnesses on 4 October told us of the nature of gender based inequalities in the labour market and the negative impact they can have both on the welfare of individual workers but also on the economy. Claire Telfer, Save the Children, said—

“One issue that has not been raised relates to the childcare workforce itself. Creating more childcare will create jobs, but we also need to look at what those jobs look like, because we know that the sector tends to offer low-paid, insecure and predominantly female work, which may just be reinforcing some of the problems that we have discussed about female employment. The picture is really complex. If there are opportunities to look at that from a socioeconomic and gender perspective, that would be very welcome.”49

57. Stephen Boyd endorsed Claire Telfer’s comments about the childcare workforce, which he described as being “absolutely pivotal”. He continued—

“Bitter experience tells us that, in the current state of the labour market, trying to engage employers in discussions on childcare initiatives is tremendously difficult. When the labour market is very tight, we might all of a sudden find that employers come back to the table, but the track record of the representative organisations in Scotland on engaging in a positive discussion on these issues is not particularly good. Often, there seems to be a kind of wilful blindness to the positive labour supply effects of childcare in all its forms. Particularly at this moment in time, when we see a drawing back of provision of breakfast clubs and after-school care, these are really important issues, especially for low-paid women who want to enter the workforce. Childcare provision can have extremely positive labour-supply effects, but very often that is missing entirely from the debate.”50

58. In light of those comments, we sought evidence on how policy measures and associated spending allocations in the Draft Budget had been framed within an overall equalities perspective that had accounted for (a) the highly gendered nature of the childcare workforce and (b) the wider impacts of the provision of good quality, affordable child care on overall economic performance. Indeed, we welcome the Deputy First Minister’s comment at the recent Women and Employment summit that childcare was part of Scotland’s infrastructure.

59. We recognise that an adequately resourced and supported care sector is crucial to the functioning of modern economies and investment in this sector is key in supporting economic growth. Owing to the positive externalities associated with the provision of care services, the care sector has wider spin off effects with reference to growth and economic performance. The Cabinet Secretary recognized the centrality of this argument with reference to the construction sector as a justification for investment—

“My central economic concern is that, if we do not have a vibrant and successful construction industry, a whole host of other support and supply sectors, which are not male dominated, will be undermined as a consequence. I can understand the concern, but I do not lay the emphasis on developing the construction sector purely and simply so that we have a vibrant construction sector but because it triggers much broader and much more significant economic activity and therefore includes a broader range of economic forces and population groups than just those who participate in the building of the capital infrastructure.”51

60. Despite the recognition that the child care sector is part of Scotland’s infrastructure, the spending plans do not contain the evidence of the investment in this area that supports this recognition. The Cabinet Secretary emphasised, however—

“We are encouraging partnership working on that with local authorities in the formulation of their single outcome agreements, which is now undertaken through community planning partnerships.”52

61. Moreover, we wish to highlight a lack of clarity in the Cabinet Secretary’s evidence in respect of the distinction between “early years” and “child care” with regard to spending allocations—

“Steps have also been taken through the Government’s integrated policy making. For example, the early years task force is drawing together a range of policy interventions and approaches that focus on giving young children the best start in life. Part of that might well be about enabling more women to enter the labour market, well supported through effective provision of childcare and other support arrangements. A number of the steps that we take through that channel are designed to achieve our aims.”53

62. Justifying investment in support for children via early years provision relies on very different principles from the arguments that support investment on the basis of a recognition of the fundamental role care services play in promoting productivity and thus enhancing overall social and economic objectives. We ask for investment in child care services to be prioritised within a framework of promoting economic growth and for the relevant budget and associated documents to reflect this.

MAINSTREAMING IN BUDGET PROCESSES

Background

A survey-based approach

63. We undertook to conduct a survey seeking to gain a better understanding of the role of equalities in the budgeting process across public sector organisations. In June 2012, we issued a short survey to 59 public sector organisations – all 32 local authorities, all 22 NHS boards (14 territorial and 8 special boards), Scottish Enterprise, HIE, Skills Development Scotland, Transport Scotland and VisitScotland. Full details of the survey questions and the organisations that replied to the survey are in annexe C. The survey addressed—

  • the role of equalities in the budgeting processes of public sector organisations;
  • the equalities impact of mainstream services (services that are available to all groups, including equalities groups);
  • the equalities impact of any services specifically designed for equalities groups;
  • progress in mainstreaming equalities and how impact is monitored.

Response rates

64. 46 organisations responded, giving an overall response rate of 78%. Local authorities’ response rate was highest, at 84%. NHS bodies’ response rate was 68%, while for other organisations it was 80%. The respondents break down into NHS – 15, local authorities – 27, other – 4, as shown in Figure 1.

Equalities in the budgeting process

Use of EIAs

65. Most respondents referred to the use of equality impact assessments (EIAs) in the budgeting process. However, there seemed to be some differences in how the EIA process was used. The range of approaches included using EIAs—

  • wherever budget reductions were proposed (an approach most commonly cited by local authorities in relation to the efficiency savings programmes that were required in order to achieve budget reductions);
  • for all budget proposals, whether for an increase in funding, a decrease in funding or a new service altogether;
  • after an initial screening process to determine whether a proposal was likely to proceed and/or whether there was likely to be a significant impact in terms of equalities issues

Approach to budgeting

66. The way in which equalities considerations are taken into account in the budgeting process may be influenced by the wider approach to budgeting within the organisation. For example, several of the NHS respondents pointed out that their organisation used ‘incremental budgeting’, and one respondent noted that this was common across the NHS. Incremental budgeting involves taking the previous year’s budget as the starting point and adjusting upwards or downwards as deemed appropriate. Organisations using such a budgeting approach were more likely to use EIAs in respect of proposed budget changes (positive or negative) and for any new service proposals.

67. Aberdeen City Council referred to the use of ‘priority-based budgeting’ which considered budget decisions within three categories – efficiencies, changing the nature of service deliver and options to stop or reduce services – and undertook EIAs for each budget saving option.

Cumulative impact of budget proposals

68. Some respondents (Argyll and Bute Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, East Dunbartonshire Council, North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council) noted that they do not limit their assessment of equalities to individual proposals, but also seek to consider the overall impact of the budget proposals or the combined impact of a number of proposals. This takes into account the interplay between different activities and the possibility that negative impacts resulting from one decision could be offset by mitigating actions in other service areas.

Timing and scope of EIA

69. The timing of the EIA was not always made clear in the responses but, where detail was provided, there seemed to be some variation. For some organisations, the EIA was being used after an initial screening process of budget proposals (East Renfrewshire Council, Fife Council, Highland Council, Orkney Islands Council, Renfrewshire Council and Shetland Islands Council described such an approach). For others, including NHS24 and HIE, the EIA seemed to be used at project inception. South Ayrshire Council highlighted it approach that the EIA was not used at a single point in time, but would be used throughout the year, as and when new proposals emerged.

70. A few respondents noted that they had extended the scope of their EIA process, either to the full set of statutory protected characteristics (Angus Council) or, in some cases to a wider set of characteristics (NHS Health Scotland, Perth and Kinross Council).

Changes in approach

71. For half of the organisations responding, the approach to equalities in the budget process was the same in 2012-13 as it had been in 2011-12. Where changes were indicated, they typically involved either the provision of additional training for staff and/or elected members or an increased level of consultation on the budget in 2012-13. Consultation had often involved seeking to engage the wider community in difficult decision-making, explaining that budget cuts had to be achieved and getting feedback on how they might best be achieved. Consultation was both at a general level (roadshows, publications) and at a more targeted level, with particularly vulnerable groups.

Impact of equalities considerations

72. Various examples were given of where equalities considerations had influenced budget decisions, including—

  • Aberdeen City Council’s review of pupil support assistants in primary and secondary schools, where an accompanying EIA led to a reallocation of staff based on identified need rather than historical allocation;
  • Angus Council’s reversal of a proposed cut in the number of support-for-learning assistants, following an EIA highlighting the negative impact the proposed cut would have had on children with a range of needs;
  • Dundee City Council’s freezing of all social work non-residential charges following an assessment of the potential negative impact of welfare reform proposals on vulnerable groups;
  • East Renfrewshire Council’s decision to reduce the scale of cuts to the purchasing budgets for various vulnerable groups where the equalities impact was assessed as high;
  • South Lanarkshire Council noted that equality considerations had influenced decisions in relation to proposed closures of public conveniences;
  • West Lothian Council’s decision against a proposal to reduce the provision of its winter maintenance service due to a potential disproportionate impact on those with physical disabilities;
  • NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s decision to change the planned location of its sexual health services on the basis of a review of the needs of young women accessing the services;
  • NHS Grampian secured funding for bi- and tri-lingual health link workers.

73. HIE pointed out that the equalities impact of its budgetary decisions would often be indirect, i.e. HIE would support a project that would create jobs and, in turn, have an impact on equalities groups. For example, HIE’s support for Nigg Skills Academy identified a positive impact on equalities through the potential to support the private sector in strengthening employment diversity in the energy sector, including recruitment of more young people, women and ethnic minorities into the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors where these groups are under-represented, as well as retraining older workers.

Equalities in mainstream services

74. Organisations were asked to describe how equalities were taken into consideration in their mainstream services. They highlighted a broad range of services and so it is difficult to draw overall conclusions. However, there were some common themes. The majority of councils mentioned education services and described how services were tailored so as to meet the needs of all children, regardless of their needs, including the provision of Additional Support Needs services and support for children who do not have English as a first language. Other mainstream council services that were frequently highlighted included social work and community health and care. Many respondents provided links to other documents where the equalities impact of mainstream services were described in greater detail, often regularly produced reports that receive management scrutiny and are in the public domain.

75. NHS respondents typically found it harder to make the distinction between mainstream services and targeted services and generally made the point that their services are designed to be accessible to all and that they take action to ensure that this is the case, rather than designing specific services for particular groups.

76. When asked to comment on the impact that budget changes have had on mainstream services, from an equalities perspective, the majority of respondents stated that the changes had not had any negative impact on equalities groups or, in some cases, that there had been a positive impact due to additional funding. For example, Dundee City Council noted that there had been a positive impact on equalities groups due to a decision to increase funding for social work.

77. Several respondents stated that where a risk of any negative impact had been identified, action had been taken to mitigate any such effects. For example, NHS Dumfries and Galloway explained that, when it had taken the decision to cease acupuncture services, it had also introduced alternatives for those suffering from chronic pain to mitigate any negative impacts.

Service provision for equalities groups

78. Eleven respondents explicitly stated that their organisation did not provide services for specific equalities groups due to a commitment to a mainstreaming approach. This included four councils (East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk and South Lanarkshire), five NHS bodies (NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Highland, NHS Lanarkshire and the Scottish Ambulance Service) and the two enterprise agencies (Scottish Enterprise and HIE). These organisations would seek to ensure that their services are accessible to all individuals, rather than providing services targeted at specific groups. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde described how it aims to be an ‘inequalities sensitive health service’. NHS Grampian referred to a mainstreaming approach but also highlighted some specific internal working groups targeted at equalities groups.

79. Other organisations detailed a range of services targeted at specific groups. In a number of cases, funding for these services had been increased in 2012‑13, resulting in a positive equalities impact assessment. Examples include—

  • Healthy Minds (adult learning services for people with mental health difficulties) – Aberdeen City Council
  • Additional support needs in education – Highland Council
  • All Age Disabilities Service – Orkney Islands Council
  • Stirling Area Access Panel – Stirling Council
  • Homelessness services – Western Isles Council
  • British Sign Language prototype (improved access for deaf people to out of hours telephony service) – NHS24

80. Other organisations stated that there had been no impact (positive or negative) on equalities groups or that any negative impacts had been offset by actions elsewhere.

81. Inverclyde Council described how it planned to bid for funding for educational additional support needs as a preventative spend proposal, arguing that investment now could deliver savings in the future.

82. While the majority of responses focused on resource budgets, NHS Dumfries and Galloway reported that they had focused capital investment on tackling perceived inequalities. For example, they described how investment had been targeted on physical improvements and design layout at a children’s respite unit and a new adult mental health facility.

Mainstreaming equalities

83. Just under a third of respondents explicitly stated that their organisation had adopted a mainstreaming approach in relation to equalities (East Ayrshire Council, East Dunbartonshire Council, East Lothian Council, Falkirk Council, South Lanarkshire Council, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Grampian, NHS Highland, NHS Lanarkshire, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Enterprise and HIE). Those organisations provide services and seek to ensure they are accessible to all individuals, rather than providing services targeted at specific groups. It is possible that other organisations may also take a mainstreaming approach, but have not stated this explicitly in their responses.

84. Several other organisations stated that they were progressing towards a mainstreaming approach and had undertaken, or were planning to undertake, training for staff and elected members. Dumfries and Galloway noted that it was cautious about “mainstreaming being used as an excuse for not doing anything”. Seven organisations mentioned that they were in the process of developing equalities outcomes to inform future activity and guide future monitoring.

85. Other organisations gave specific examples of specialist services that had been mainstreamed, which included:

  • East Lothian Council – expansion of its Summer Activity Programme for children to include provision for children with additional support needs
  • North Ayrshire Council – the bilingual support unit for school pupils has now been mainstreamed with language support, meaning that pupils requiring the service can now access support in their own school rather than having to travel to a separate site
  • North Lanarkshire Council – developments in services for deaf people to support them in accessing Council services
  • Renfrewshire Council – integrated hubs and two leisure centres to support adults with learning disabilities to participate in mainstream and specialist services
  • West Dunbartonshire Council – realignment of advice, employability and community learning and development services to provide a new service called Working 4U to provide better accessibility for young people, disabled people and women

86. Monitoring took a variety of forms and, as noted above, a number of organisations are working to develop equality outcomes and future monitoring will be guided by these. Other examples noted included:

  • Collection and analysis of service usage data to monitor access to services (sometimes used in reference to wider demographic data)
  • Use of tailored performance evaluation systems
  • Creation of / participation in relevant networks, groups and partnerships e.g. the Equalities Action Network (Aberdeen City Council) , Equality Engagement Group (East Dunbartonshire Council), Citizens’ Panel, Seniors Together, Carers Network, Disability Partnership, Youth Council, Lanarkshire Ethnic Minority Action Group (South Lanarkshire Council), Disability Equality Monitoring and Review Group (North Lanarkshire Council), Racial Equality and Diversity Working Groups (NHS Grampian), Equality and Diversity Forum (South Ayrshire Council), Close the Gap and Women into Science Engineering and Technology (Scottish Enterprise)
  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Specific events e.g. Equality Week 2012 (East Ayrshire Council)
  • Reference to standard monitoring returns (SMR00 and SMR01 data used within NHS to monitor ethnicity of patients)

87. For some bodies, such as the enterprise agencies, who are funding projects rather than providing services directly, the equalities impact may be harder to monitor as the impact is less direct.

Emerging issues

88. The survey has highlighted that public sector organisations are taking equalities considerations into account in their budgeting process, generally through the use of EIAs. However, it has also identified some variation in approaches that could have implications for the extent to which equalities considerations impact on budget decisions.

Approach to budgeting

89. The widely used incremental budgeting approach could result in equalities issues being considered only where changes to budgets are proposed. More fundamental questions about equalities issues relating to the budget as a whole or particular services within the budget could therefore be overlooked. An alternative would be to take a ‘zero-based’ budgeting approach, where the organisation would effectively start with a blank sheet and no baseline position would be assumed. Such an approach would open up scope for a more fundamental assessment of equalities issues. The use of zero-based budgeting does not appear to be widespread in the public sector and would be a more time-consuming and resource-intensive process. We invite the Cabinet Secretary to consider the scope for zero-based budgeting frameworks in the public sector and we look forward to his response.

Cumulative impact

90. EIAs tend to involve assessment of an individual service, an approach that carries the risk of missing the interactions between services and the effects that changes to one service could have on other budget lines. Whilst some respondents referred to assessment of cumulative impact or of the budget as a whole, the practice did not appear to be widespread. We seek the Cabinet Secretary’s view on the scale of the problem and how it might be addressed.

Timing of EIA

91. Some organisations undertook EIAs at the very outset of a budget or service proposal, allowing for equalities issues to be taken into account throughout the development of the proposal. For others, the EIA took place later in the process, which could mean that it is too late to redesign services (which could, in turn, mean that changes are accepted which have a negative impact on equalities groups or that changes are rejected when they could have been redesigned so as to mitigate any adverse consequences). We look to the Cabinet Secretary to take a position on when EIAs should take place and we ask what steps he plans to take to improve the situation.

Equalities and the capital budget

92. Most respondents focused on the equalities impact of their resource budgets and it is therefore unclear to what extent equalities issues are taken into account when making decisions regarding capital investment. We ask the Cabinet Secretary what assessment he has made of the extent to which public bodies take equalities issues into account when making capital investment decisions.

CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES

93. Following on from last year’s budget scrutiny round, when we invited other committees scrutinising the draft budget to submit a short report on their consideration of equalities and findings, we contributed this year to the Finance Committee’s Guidance to the subject committees, the Equal Opportunities Committee and the European and External Relations Committee54 with regard to the equalities dimension of their scrutiny activity.

94. We welcome other committees’ responses and are encouraged by the fact that all committees participated. However, given the Scottish Government’s emphasis on the importance of equalities to the budget process, including the production of the Equality Statement which addresses each portfolio, we are slightly disappointed not to see more material coming back from the various committees. We also discern some misunderstanding of our request for responses and remind other committees of our duty, under the Standing Orders, to scrutinise the observance of equalities in the Parliament. We draw to the Finance Committee’s attention issues raised by other committees, as summarised in paragraphs 96 to 108 below.

95. In a similar exercise, the Finance Committee’s guidance incorporated a request from the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee that committees consider how spending has taken account of climate change issues and how it will help the Scottish Government meet the targets set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. We include our comments on climate change issues in paragraphs 109 to 112 below and draw them to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee’s attention.

Impacts on multiple groups

96. Several committees’ reports identified impacts associated with more than one protected characteristic.

97. The Justice Committee heard evidence that access to justice, particularly for vulnerable people, such as the accused, victims and witnesses, would be compromised by the Scottish Court Service’s proposals on court closures. The Committee notes that the Scottish Court Service conducted an Equality Impact Assessment, which indicated that this policy is likely to affect staff, judiciary and court users including persons with particular protected characteristics. It also indicates that people under 29 and over 60 are “likely to be disproportionately affected by more complex or lengthy trips to courts by public transport”. We welcome the Justice Committee’s commitment to consider any equalities implications from the final proposals on court closures once the consultation has concluded.

98. The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee’s report notes, with regret, that the Scottish Government provided only a limited number of examples of how equalities impacts have been assessed and calls for the impacts of spending across all parts of the portfolio in future to be measured clearly against each of the nine protected characteristics.

99. The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee’s report refers to evidence about the pressure on housing-association budgets for adaptations to ensure housing stock suitability for vulnerable tenants and outlines that there is already increasing demands on housing-association reserves, which is likely to impact on their ability to provide suitable housing supply. The report also covers the impact of reductions to road maintenance budgets on pedestrians and vulnerable groups, with evidence from several witnesses that those cuts had a disproportionate effect on vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and disabled.

100. The Education and Culture Committee’s report draws attention to its intention to monitor the impact of college reform on equality groups.

Impacts associated with socio-economic status

101. The Justice Committee’s report expresses concern about the potential loss of up to 3,000 police support staff jobs under police reform and the effects that it would have on individuals, their household incomes and socio-economic status.

102. The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee’s report highlights the lack of broadband take-up amongst groups including people on lower incomes.

103. The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee reports its finding that the number of households living in fuel poverty is increasing amid concerns that energy companies had not, to date, played a significant enough role in helping those on low incomes access measures to protect themselves against fuel-price increases. The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee’s report also relates evidence that it was difficult to analyse how the budget tackles poverty and highlights that committee’s request to the Scottish Government that it include in future budgets the outcomes of measures taken to tackle poverty, to enable their impact to be assessed.

104. The Health and Sport Committee highlighted to us a comprehensive reply from the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing noting that, in setting the draft budget, the Scottish Government had been aware of the potential impact on communities of significant economic and public spending pressures at a time of “acute pressure on household incomes”.

Impacts associated with age

105. As discussed above, the Justice Committee’s raised the disproportionate impact of Scottish Court Service court-closure proposals on people under 29 and over 60 and the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee raised concerns about the impact on elderly people of the pressure on housing-association budgets to fund adaptations to housing stock and of reductions to road maintenance budgets.

106. The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee welcomed Scottish Government steps to tackle youth unemployment, such as the Opportunities for All initiative’s guaranteed place in education or training for every 16 to 19-year-old, the Employer Recruitment Initiative to create up to 10,000 opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to recruit young people and the support for 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship opportunities in each year of the current parliamentary session, with the majority targeted at young people.

107. The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee’s report highlighted the lack of broadband take-up amongst groups such as older people.

Impacts associated with gender

108. The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee highlighted evidence that pay inequality underpins child poverty levels and that the high level of women in low-paid employment has a greater impact on child poverty. That Committee raises the issue of the high level of female unemployment and asks the Scottish Government to consider how to address this issue. Its report also highlights the under-representation of women in certain sectors, such as the energy sector, and, whilst recognising that some work is being done, asks the Scottish Government to consider how the number of women working in these sectors can be increased.

Impacts associated with climate change

109. Globally, climate change and its impacts clearly have equalities impacts that affect different groups in different ways. Last year, the Scottish Government published its report on policies and proposals, and this year there will be an updated report. Both documents are intended to be read alongside the budget. We asked the Cabinet Secretary how the Scottish Government had incorporated equalities concerns into action to tackle climate change, in particular in dealing with climate change concerns in the budget and alongside the work on the forthcoming report on policies and proposals.

110. The Cabinet Secretary explained that an iterative process is used to apply equalities considerations while formulating the budget and that the choices made in that respect are cognisant of obligations connected with climate change—

“Essentially, we go through an integrated policy framework where we test the choices that we make on the budget alongside the considerations required of us in relation to equalities and tackling climate change, so that we can be satisfied that we are moving as effectively as we can to support those directions. In that process, as we begin to assemble some of the themes of the budget, we look at all the information that emerges.”

111. We also asked the Cabinet Secretary how the overarching budgetary objective of low-carbon economic growth stimulating low-carbon industries took into account equality concerns, not least among them gender in employment in low-carbon industries. In response, the Cabinet Secretary highlighted a range of different steps being taken to support the development of a low-carbon economy across a range of different policy areas in the budget, namely energy efficiency in the private domestic sector through insulation schemes, public sector energy efficiency programmes, the emphasis on renewables research and development and the work undertaken on changing the balance of travel patterns in society. He added—

“The challenge that we have talked about the whole of this morning is how we ensure that, as we embark on that direction of travel, we do not go into it with traditional occupational segregation dominating what we do. On that, I would have to accept that we are at a work-in-progress stage.

“Essentially, the low-carbon economy is a new economy for us, so we have to ensure that we do not go into it with the structures and imbalances of the old economy, if I may express it in that way. Some of the interventions are designed to avoid our locking in some of the constraints and characteristics of the old economy in a way that means that we miss the opportunity to change some of the employment patterns in the creation of a new industry.”

112. We draw this aspect of our consideration of the draft budget to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee’s attention.

ANNEXE A: EXTRACTS FROM THE MINUTES OF THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES COMMITTEE

10th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Tuesday 29 May 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14 (in private): The Committee considered its approach to the scrutiny of the Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2013-14, agreed to seek to appoint an adviser and consider a list of candidates in private at a future meeting.

12th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Tuesday 19 June 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14 (in private): The Committee considered a candidate list, and agreed a preferred candidate, for appointment as budget adviser for scrutiny of the draft budget 2013-14.

15th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 13 September 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14 (in private): The Committee considered and agreed its approach to oral evidence on the Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2013-14.

18th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 4 October 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14: The Committee took evidence on the Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2013-14 from—

Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress;

Jackie Brierton, Director, Women’s Enterprise Scotland;

Angela O'Hagan, Convenor, Scottish Women's Budget Group;

Linda Somerville, Director, Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology;

Claire Telfer, Policy & Advocacy Manager, Save the Children.

19th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 25 October 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14: The Committee took evidence on the Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2013-14 from—

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, Hugh McAloon, Head of Employability and Skills, Yvonne Strachan, Deputy Director - Equalities Third Sector and Communities, and Paul Tyrer, Senior Principal Research Officer, Scottish Government.

20th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 8 November 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14 (in private): The Committee considered a draft report to the Finance Committee on the Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2013-14. Various changes were proposed and decided upon (one by division), and the Committee agreed to resume consideration of the draft at its next meeting.

Record of division in private: In paragraph 32, Marco Biagi proposed that the words “perpetuates or even” be inserted before “reinforces”.

The proposal was agreed to by division: For 4 (Marco Biagi, John Finnie, John Mason, and Dennis Robertson), Against 2 (Mary Fee and Siobhan McMahon), Abstentions 1 (Alex Johnstone).

21st Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 15 November 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14 (in private): The Committee considered a revised draft report to the Finance Committee on the Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2013-14. Various changes were agreed to, and the Committee agreed to consider a revised draft, in private, at its next meeting.

22nd Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 22 November 2012

Draft Budget Scrutiny 2013-14 (in private): The Committee considered a draft report to the Finance Committee on the Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2013-14. Various changes were agreed to, and the report was agreed for submission to the Finance Committee.

ANNEXE B: EVIDENCE – EQUAL OPPORTUNTIES COMMITTEE

Written Evidence

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth (82KB pdf)
The STUC (245KB pdf)

Oral Evidence

18th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 4 October 2012

Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress;
Jackie Brierton, Director, Women’s Enterprise Scotland;
Angela O'Hagan, Convenor, Scottish Women's Budget Group;
Linda Somerville, Director, Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology;
Claire Telfer, Policy & Advocacy Manager, Save the Children.

19th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Thursday 25 October 2012

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, Hugh McAloon, Head of Employability and Skills, Yvonne Strachan, Deputy Director - Equalities Third Sector and Communities, and Paul Tyrer, Senior Principal Research Officer, Scottish Government.

Supplementary Written Evidence

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth (805KB pdf)
Save the Children UK (65KB pdf)
Scottish Women's Budget Group (6KB pdf)
The STUC (99KB pdf)

ANNEXE C: EQUALITIES IN BUDGET PROCESS SURVEY EVIDENCE EQUAL OPPORTUNTIES COMMITTEE

Survey questions:

Equalities in the budgeting process

  • How were equalities issues taken into consideration in allocating budgets in 2012-13? (Please describe the process undertaken)
  • Was the approach taken for the 2012-13 budget any different from that taken in 2011-12? (If YES, please describe what changed in your approach)
  • Can you provide any examples of how equalities considerations influenced agreed budgets? (Please provide up to THREE examples)

Equalities in mainstream services

  • For your three most significant mainstream services (in terms of cost), please provide details of—

a) The total budget for this service in 2011-12 and 2012-13

b) The impact (positive or negative) that this service has on equality groups

c) The impact (if any) that any budget changes have had on equality groups

Service provision for equalities groups

  • For up to THREE services with a specific focus or provision for equalities groups, please provide details of—

a) The total budget for this service in 2011-12 and 2012-13

b) The impact that this service has on equality groups

c) The impact (if any) that any budget changes have had on equality groups

Mainstreaming equalities

  • What specialist services or programmes have been, or are being altered, in the interests of mainstreaming?
  • What monitoring is in place to ensure that the relevant equality groups continue to access an appropriate service?

Survey responses

Aberdeen City Council (154KB pdf)
Aberdeenshire Council (241KB pdf)
Angus Council (100KB pdf)
Argyll and Bute Council (145KB pdf)
City of Edinburgh Council (86KB pdf)
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (137KB pdf)
Dumfries and Galloway Council (156KB pdf)
East Ayrshire Council (200KB pdf)
East Lothian Council (203KB pdf)
East Renfrewshire Council (154KB pdf)
Dundee City Council (110KB pdf)
Falkirk Council (139KB pdf)
Fife Council (74KB pdf)
Healthcare Improvement Scotland (68KB pdf)
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (144KB pdf)
Inverclyde Council (95KB pdf)
NHS 24 (40KB pdf)
NHS Ayrshire & Arran (96KB pdf)
NHS Dumfries and Galloway (193KB pdf)
NHS Grampian (154KB pdf)
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (76KB pdf)
NHS Health Scotland (72KB pdf)
NHS Highland (152KB pdf)
NHS Lanarkshire (159KB pdf)
NHS Shetland (2,738KB pdf)
NHS Tayside (1,482KB pdf)
NHS Western Isles (216KB pdf)
North Ayrshire Council (233KB pdf)
North Lanarkshire Council (159KB pdf)
Orkney Islands Council (94KB pdf)
Perth and Kinross Council (141KB pdf)
Renfrewshire Council (148KB pdf)
Scottish Ambulance Service (141KB pdf)
Scottish Enterprise (172KB pdf)
Shetland Islands Council (82KB pdf)
Skills Development Scotland (82KB pdf)
South Ayrshire Council (3,812KB pdf)
South Lanarkshire Council (45KB pdf)
Stirling Council (170KB pdf)
The Highland Council (237KB pdf)
The National Waiting Times Board (Golden Jubilee National Hospital) (101KB pdf)
Transport Scotland (90KB pdf)
West Dunbartonshire Council (154KB pdf)
West Lothian Council (89KB pdf)

ANNEXE D – EQUAL OPPORTUNTIES COMMITTEE DRAFT BUDGET 2013-14 - SUMMARY OF COMMITTEE RESPONSES

A summary of committee responses on their findings relating to equalities is detailed below; their full reports to the Finance Committee are published on the Parliament’s website in the usual manner.

Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee

Employment and skills

The Committee welcomed the steps that the Scottish Government is taking in tackling youth unemployment, such as the initiative Opportunities for All which provides a guaranteed offer of a place in education or training for every 16 to 19-year-old in Scotland, the Employer Recruitment Initiative to create up to 10,000 opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to recruit young people and supporting 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship opportunities in each year of the current Parliament, with the majority targeted at young people.

The Committee heard evidence that pay inequality underpins the levels of child poverty in Scotland and that the high levels of women in low paid employment has a greater impact on child poverty. We raised the issue of the high level of female unemployment and asked the Scottish Government to consider how to address this issue.

We also highlighted the issue of under-representation of women in certain sectors, such as the energy sector, and, whilst recognising that some work is being done, asked the Scottish Government to consider how the number of women working in these sectors can be increased.

Underemployment

The Committee heard concerns about the number of underemployed people and the impact that this has on living standards and skills development and asked the Scottish Government to gather evidence on this issue.

Remote and rural communities

The Committee welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing country-wide broadband by 2020, but asked for a reassurance that the rate of broadband roll-out will be completed in time to enable the delivery of the efficiency saving public sector reform initiatives across the whole of the country and that no communities will be excluded.

Fuel poverty

The Committee heard that the number of households living in fuel poverty is increasing and there were concerns the that energy companies to date had not played a significant enough role in helping those on low incomes access measures to protect themselves against the increase in fuel prices.

Poverty

The Committee heard evidence that it was difficult to analyse how the budget tackles poverty. We requested that the Scottish Government include in future budgets the outcomes of measures taken to tackle poverty to enable their impact to be assessed.

Education and Culture Committee

Equalities issues

130. Questions of equality have informed the Committee’s questioning throughout the budget scrutiny process and it can be seen as somewhat artificial to have to provide a separate account of this issue, particularly where ‘mainstreaming’ is the goal. As is apparent from this report, there is a considerable amount of ongoing activity and reform in the further and higher sectors and it was not possible for the Committee to address in full all the questions contained in the Equal Opportunities Committee’s guidance. For example, the question about “which equalities groups/strands are most likely to be adversely affected (and/or best protected) by budget decisions” would be very difficult to answer; there are myriad “budget decisions” and six different protected groups (some of which, for example race and religion, can be seen to contain several other groups).

131. Nevertheless, the Committee notes that, in its call for evidence, it asked for views on the extent to which equalities considerations have informed decision-making. It also wrote to the Cabinet Secretary to ask for evidence of how equalities considerations have informed the reshaping of the college sector and associated budgetary allocations; and whether any equality groups could be disproportionately affected by this process of reform. In its response, the Scottish Government referred the Committee to its Equality Budget Statement and noted that “equalities issues are being taken into account as part of our ongoing programme of Post 16 reform”. The Committee has also stated its intention to monitor the impact of college reform on equality groups.

European and External Relations Committee

The European and External Relations Committee do not have anything specific to report as regards mainstreaming equalities within the draft Budget.

In considering the draft Budget, the Committee found that there had been very little change in figures from last year. Additionally it’s worth mentioning that its part of the Budget is very small relatively, therefore making these changes very small indeed. So it was thought unlikely that the responses from stakeholders on the Equal Opportunities issues would be significantly different from our report to you last year.

As mentioned, the Committee has taken a slightly different route on the Budget this year in that it highlighted its wider work on scrutinising major EU funds of relevance to the Scottish Government such as the EU’s Structural Fund Programme; and (ii) the Horizon 2020 Fund for Research & Development. For the funding period 2007 – 2013, Scotland received £800m from structural funds and £351m from Horizon 2020’s predecessor fund. Both funds are currently being re

negotiated externally to the SG Budget and the European & External Relations Committee is committed to scrutinising the Scottish Government’s role in this process. The Committee will continue to scrutinise these figures in future inquiries and this forms the main angle of its work on budgetary matters.

Health and Sports Committee

Equalities issues

11. The question put to the Cabinet Secretary by the Committee was:

  • How will the measures in the draft budget promote equalities?

12. In a comprehensive reply, the Cabinet Secretary noted that in setting the draft budget the Scottish Government had been aware of the potential impact on Scotland’s communities of significant economic and public spending pressures and measures such as the UK Government’s welfare reforms. The spending plans, therefore, were “designed to support economic recovery and growth through the low-carbon economy but also to continue the decisive shift to more preventative approaches, to deliver wider public service reform and to maintain the commitment to a Social Wage … at a time of acute pressure on household incomes”

13. The letter went on to list a number of programmes that would be supported by the budget that were part of the overall commitment to equalities.

14. The Committee notes the Cabinet Secretary’s comments on the way in which the budget will promote equalities. The Committee also welcomes the publication alongside the draft budget, of an Equality Budget Statement, which should help ensure that equality considerations are taken seriously during the annual budgetary process and help subject committees to assess the equality impact of the Scottish Government’s spending plans.

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee

Housing adaptations for vulnerable and elderly tenants

The Committee considered a number of equalities aspects during its scrutiny of the draft budget 2013-14. The Committee heard evidence about the pressure on housing associations’ budgets to fund adaptations to ensure that housing stock is suitable for vulnerable and elderly tenants. The Committee reports outlines that there is already increasing demands on housing associations’ reserves, which is likely to impact on their ability to provide suitable housing supply. [As a result of the Committee’s consideration of the issue, the Committee will decide whether to conduct an inquiry into housing adaptations – this discussion will take place on Wednesday 21 November and I will let you know the outcome.]

Trunk and local roads maintenance budgets

The Committee also considered the impact that reductions to road maintenance budgets had on pedestrians and vulnerable groups. The Committee received evidence that from several witnesses those cuts had a disproportionate effect on vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and disabled. The Committee also considered the substantial roads maintenance backlog and recommended in its report on the draft budget that it would return to this issue once the outcome of the Government’s Roads Maintenance Review is available.

Justice Committee

Equalities issues

139. Committees have also been asked by the Equal Opportunities Committee to include in their reports to the Finance Committee any equalities issues arising during their scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2013-14. A number of equalities issues arose in relation to the budgets for the police, the courts, and the treatment of women offenders (in light of the recommendations of the Commission on Women Offenders) and these are discussed below.

140. The Committee notes that recent media reports have suggested that as many as 3,000 police support staff could lose their jobs under police reform.55 While the Chief Constable of the new Police Service of Scotland, Stephen House, said that “technically” a reduction of 3,000 police support staff was “the absolute upper limit”, he does not believe this is a realistic figure. The Committee has expressed concern about the possible de-civilianisation of the police and notes the effects that job losses would have on individuals, their household incomes and socio-economic status.

141. The Committee heard evidence that access to justice, particularly for vulnerable people, such as the accused, victims and witnesses, would be compromised by the SCS’s proposals on court closures. The Law Society of Scotland, for example, argued that “court users will have to travel further and with greater cost, or may be dis-incentivised to attend at all, with the attendance churn that this could create for the court system”.56 It added that “this will affect the public, lawyers, police, social workers and others”.57 The Committee notes that the Scottish Court Service conducted an Equality Impact Assessment, which indicated that this policy is likely to affect staff, judiciary and court users including persons with particular protected characteristics. It also indicates that people under 29 and over 60 are “likely to be disproportionately affected by more complex or lengthy trips to courts by public transport”.58

142. In response to these concerns, the Committee has recommended that more opportunities for victims and witnesses to give evidence by video-conferencing are made available to minimise the impact of court closures, and that access to justice and local needs are both taken into consideration when deciding how best to rationalise the court estate. The Committee will also consider any equalities implications from the final proposals on court closures once the consultation has concluded.

143. During last year’s budget scrutiny, the Committee expressed concern about the number of prisoners and suitability of their accommodation, particularly at Cornton Vale. The Committee notes and is encouraged by the work of the Commission on Women Offenders in developing a momentum to properly address the needs of women prisoners. The Committee has however indicated that it will continue to monitor progress on implementing the Commission’s recommendations “to ensure that the strong momentum for change does not weaken”.

Local Government and Regeneration Committee

The Committee reports to the Equal Opportunities Committee as follows—

1. At its meeting of 20 June 2012, the Committee agreed to submit a report to the Equal Opportunities Committee on the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2013-14. This decision was taken in response to the invitation from the Equal Opportunities Committee to subject committees to set out what steps they took to include equalities considerations in their draft budget scrutiny and what their findings have been.

The Committee’s approach to equalities considerations

2. The Committee in its general call for evidence sought information on ways the regeneration policy can assist with the delivery of the equalities agenda, and support the development of the most vulnerable sections of society.

Regeneration Policy and the Equality Agenda

3. In general terms, submissions received expressed support for the preventative spend agenda and the equalities agenda and provided a range of examples of how regeneration contributes to the delivery of these goals.

4. The evidence received by the Committee from a number of local authorities showed a recurring agreement that the regeneration policy can assist with the delivery of the equalities agenda.

5. Orkney Islands Council stated that—

“The simplest way to ensure that regeneration policy assists with the delivery of the equalities agenda is to include conditions to the funding criteria for projects receiving support to demonstrate that the regeneration projects will be accessible to all. However, it is important that the assessment of equalities impact is not restricted to the protected groups within the Equality Act 2010. In Orkney, peripherality is a significant barrier to accessing goods and services, and a vital factor to consider in maintaining the sustainability of our isles communities.”59

6. Other evidence submitted to the Committee also made reference to working with communities to help reduce socio-economic inequalities and taking into account the needs of diverse groups when developing projects.

7. In written evidence, COSLA stated that—

“A holistic approach to regeneration encompassing the economic, social, and environmental can contribute to the recommendations of the Christie Commission and to the delivery of the equality agenda in Scotland.”60

8. More generally Renfrewshire Council noted—

“Physical regeneration can contribute to preventative spending by improving levels of health and wellbeing through effective housing renewal and by reducing fuel poverty through installation and maintenance of effective heating systems. This will reduce the need for health spending caused by illness and disease associated with cold and damp conditions and mental stress. Improving the levels of social housing conditions can have a positive impact on reducing health inequalities.”61

Equality Impact Assessment

9. In oral evidence to the Committee, the Minister for Housing and Welfare stated that the Scottish Government are “…..committed to ensuring equality of opportunity and support for the places and people that need it.”62

10. David Cowan, Head of the Scottish Government Regeneration Unit, confirmed that an Equality Impact Assessment (“EQIA”) of the regeneration policy had been carried out before it was published.

11. The EQIA, as stated by David Cowan, showed “…that there were no issues with the strategy in so far as the intent was that it should not disadvantage any one group.”63 This may be of some concern given the focus of an EQIA is to move beyond intent and identify potential impact. The Committee therefore asked for and received a copy of the assessment.

12. The Committee noted that much of the evidence in the EQIA utilised to understand the diverse needs and experience of groups impacted upon, was based on the 2001 census figures. The EQIA also notes that “the strategy in of itself will not have a direct effect on any group” and that “in designing and delivering programmes under the strategy we will be able to promote equality of opportunity”.

13. On that basis the Committee was content not to pursue the rigorousness of the EQIA any further
Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee

Equalities issues

125. The Committee pursued issues relating to equalities in all of its oral evidence sessions. These issues were all underpinned by the central question – how does the budget cause inequalities for any groups in our population, particularly in relation to the nine protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010?

126. Many of the responses to that question focussed on the issues highlighted above, such as the lack of availability of high-speed broadband, or broadband at all, in many rural areas, and also the lack of take-up where broadband is available amongst groups such as older people, or people on lower incomes.

127. The Committee also pursued with the Minister and Cabinet Secretary the issue of the Scottish Government’s Equality Statement on the budget, which stated that—

“[…] ministers and relevant officials were informed of the potential impact of developing spending proposals [with regard to the nine equality characteristics] at relevant stages of the budget process”.64

128. The Minister told the Committee—

“[…] ministerial colleagues and officials were involved in the work to ensure that a wide range of the potential implications of our budget decisions with regard to equality and carbon were understood. We believe that the equalities statement is helpful in articulating potential impacts to support scrutiny of the budget process and our decisions.”65

129. The Minister went on to give the example of spending on the central Scotland green network in improving forestry and outdoor spaces surrounding urban areas and the positive benefit that can have on groups such as those on lower incomes or to improve physical and mental health.

130. However, the Minister acknowledged that there were many other equalities characteristics and that there was room for improvement. He gave the example of access to the climate challenge fund, stating—

“[…] we are aware that a number of communities and indeed communities within communities might not be benefiting from the climate challenge fund. We have looked at the socioeconomic profile of the communities that have drawn down funding; of course, the age profile and the ethnic diversity of those communities might also be having an impact. Where we can, we are trying to ensure that we make a greater impact to allow communities that have missed out on such funding to take advantage of it.”66

131. The issue was also pursued subsequently with the Cabinet Secretary who confirmed that the RAE portfolio had been “equality proofed”, citing the example of the rural connectivity, and undertook to write to the Committee with further examples of how equalities issues had been mainstreamed across the portfolio.

132. On the issue of connectivity, the Cabinet Secretary told the Committee—

“Connectivity was one issue that I mentioned earlier and the digital divide is an issue that causes me serious concern in rural Scotland. It can be a demographic issue or a geographic issue. That is one example where we take our obligation to achieve equality very seriously—we need to close that digital divide.”67

133. In supplementary written evidence to the Committee, the Cabinet Secretary drew the Committee’s attention to the specific part of the Equality Statement68 relevant to the portfolio, and gave examples of three Equality Impact Assessments within the portfolio, for the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park69; Farming for a Better Climate scheme70; and the Flooding Bill (Scotland)71 respectively.

134. The Committee notes, with regret, that only a limited number of examples were provided by the Scottish Government on how equalities impacts have been assessed. The Committee believes that consideration of the impacts of spending across all parts of the portfolio is essential and should in future be clearly measured against each of the nine protected characteristics.


 

Footnotes:

1 Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth. Supplementary written submission.

2 Available online at www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_FinanceCommittee/Reports/Draft_budget2013-14.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

3 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 – Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth. Available online at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0040/00402326.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

4 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 – Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth. Available online at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0040/00402326.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

5 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 670

6 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 671-2

7 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 – Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth. Available online at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0040/00402326.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

8 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 (page 32). Available online at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0040/00402326.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

9 Scottish Women's Budget Group. Supplementary written submission.

10 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 (page 4). Available online at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0040/00402326.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

11 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 (page 4). Available online at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0040/00402326.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

12 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 707

13 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scotland’s Budget 2011-12. Available at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/11/17115419/15 [Accessed 5 December 2012]

14 Scottish Government, Equality Statement: Scottish Spending Review 2011 and Draft Budget 2012-13. Available at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/09/26110945/0 [Accessed 5 December 2012]

15 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 708-9

16 Scottish Parliament Finance Committee. 4th Report, 2006 (Session 2). Report on the Financial Implications of the Local Authority Single Status Agreement (SP Paper 526). Available at http://archive.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/finance/reports-06/fir06-04-01.htm [Accessed 5 December 2012]

17 Scottish Parliament Finance Committee. 4th Report, 2009 (Session 3). Report on Public Sector Pay (SP Paper 308). Available at http://archive.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/finance/reports-09/fir09-04.htm [Accessed 5 December 2012]

18 Scottish Parliament Local Government and Communities Committee. 12th Report, 2009 (Session 3). Equal Pay in Local Government (SP Paper 292). Available at http://archive.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/lgc/reports-09/lgr09-12.htm [Accessed 5 December 2012]

19 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 650

20 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 650

21 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 649

22 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 651

23 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 660

24 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 660-1

25 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 663

26 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 668

27 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 657

28 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 662-3

29 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 690-1

30 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 692

31 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 697

32 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 692

33 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 660

34 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 665

35 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 649

36 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 668-9

37 STUC. Supplementary written submission.

38 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 656

39 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 657

40 STUC. Supplementary written submission.

41 STUC. Supplementary written submission.

42 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 672

43 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 701

44 Scottish Government, Scottish Budget – Draft Budget 2010-11. Available at www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/284860/0086518.pdf [Accessed 5 December 2012]

45 Scottish Government, The Scottish Economic Recovery Plan: Accelerating Recovery – Section 5, “Supporting Jobs and Communities”. Available at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/03/03084300/6 [Accessed 5 December 2012]

46 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 700-1

47 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 658

48 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 694

49 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 674-5

50 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 4 October 2012, Col 675

51 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 700-1

52 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 695

53 Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Official Report, 25 October 2012, Col 692

54 Available online at www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_FinanceCommittee/Reports/Draft_budget2013-14_.pdf (Accessed 5 December 2012)

55 BBC website. Stephen House warns of Police Service of Scotland job losses. Available at:
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-19728563 [Accessed on 8 November 2012].

56 Law Society of Scotland. Written submission, paragraph 14.

57 Law Society of Scotland. Written submission, paragraph 14.

58 Scottish Court Service (2012). Equality Impact Assessment on Shaping Scotland’s court services: a dialogue on a court structure for the future. Available at: www.scotcourts.gov.uk/courtsadmin/shaping_scotland’s_court_services.pdf [Accessed on 7 November 2011].

59 Orkney Islands Council, written submission, paragraph 9.

60 COSLA written submission, paragraph 6.

61 Renfrewshire Council written submission, paragraph 16.

62 Scottish Parliament Local Government and Regeneration Committee, Official Report, 24 October 2012, Col 1314.

63 Scottish Parliament Local Government and Regeneration Committee, Official Report, 24 October 2012, Col 1320.

64 Scottish Government (2012). Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14, Chapter 3. Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/09/5750/3.

65 Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Official Report, 24 October 2012, Col

66 Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Official Report, 24 October 2012, Col 1215.

67 Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Official Report, 31 October 2012, Col 1262.

68 Equality Statement: Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14. (Scottish Government 2012). Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/09/5750/13.

69 Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park (2012). National Park Partnership Plan 2012 -2017 Equalities Impact Assessment. Available at: http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/images/stories/Looking%20After/PDF/NP%20Plan/FINAL_EQIA.pdf.

70 Scottish Government. Farming for a Better Climate Equalities Impact Assessment. Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Equality/18507/EQIASearch/FarmingforabetterClimate.

71 Scottish Government. Flooding Bill (Scotland) Equalities Impact Assessment. Available at:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Equality/18507/EQIASearch/FloodingBill.

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