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Marlyn Glen (Labour) | Question S3W-40314
To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide examples of policy recommendations from each of its directorates that have been amended as a result of equality impact assessments.
John Swinney (Scottish National Party)
Our approach to Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) focuses on ensuring that analysis of equality evidence is embedded from the beginning of the policy making cycle, and shapes the policy on an ongoing basis. As such we expect policies to be influenced by the process of impact assessment and analysis. There are 33 Directorates in the Scottish Government and we do not collate information centrally on amendments made to policies during this cycle.
We do however provide centralised on-line publication of equality impact assessments from across the Scottish Government and these can be accessed at:
The following case studies provide three examples of instances where policies informed by equality impact assessment have led to specific actions.
Patients Rights Bill EQIA:
During consultation on the Bill one of the issues raised was that without the right help and support some groups of people - younger people, older people (especially those with dementia), disabled people (especially those with learning disabilities and mental health problems) - will find it difficult to enforce their rights. After consideration of the impact on the equality groups it was decided to allocate funding to support the provision of advocacy services to ensure that those who need assistance in upholding their rights can access the appropriate support.
In addition, results from the consultation also suggested that disabled people face significant problems in accessing health care, often due to access and communication issues. Provisions in the Patient Rights Bill place NHS bodies under a duty to allow and encourage patients to participate as fully as possible in decisions relating to their health and well being. After consideration of the equality issues (in particular the impact on disabled people, and people whose first language is not English) the Scottish Government decided to provide funding to NHS Health Scotland to support the development of translation, interpreting and communication services (TICS). Investing in the TICS infrastructure will help to ensure that all patients are aware of their rights, are communicated with in an appropriate manner, and are involved in decisions about their care.
Drugs Strategy EQIA:
In developing the EQIA for the national drugs strategy, a lack of evidence about ethnic minority communities’ use of drugs and treatment services was identified. It identified that 99.3% of new patients accessing treatments were not from ethnic minority groups. Anecdotal evidence suggested that drug taking patterns amongst ethnic minority communities were different to those in other communities which, along with the perceived shame associated with drug taking in many ethnic minority communities, meant that people were not accessing services. Officials explored the potential gaps, barriers and needs in service provision for people from ethnic minority communities. It transpired that drug use amongst these communities was as prevalent per head of population as those in other communities. However, of the 227 drugs services operating in Scotland, only one specialised in supporting people from minority ethnic communities. In response, the Drug Policy Unit commenced work to help make services more accessible to ethnic minority communities.
Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers EQIA:
The overarching purpose of the Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers Shared Equity Schemes is to help first time buyers, on low to moderate incomes, achieve their home ownership aspirations. A key finding from the EQIA for this policy was that Muslims can find it difficult to buy a home if they want to ensure their purchase is compliant with their religious law and beliefs. Therefore, in order to make the benefits of our policy more accessible and reach a greater number of people, we started working with the Islamic Finance Council to make it easier for lenders to offer Shariah-compliant home purchase plans to buyers.