Commission Launches Landmark Fairness Report: how does Scotland fare?

11th October 2010

The Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland today published a landmark review bringing together for the first time all available information to answer the question ‘How Fair is Britain?’

The report provides the most accurate picture of daily life for people in Scotland today. Looking across what is necessary for people to live a happy, productive and fulfilled life, it concludes that while the country has made significant progress in terms of tackling discrimination and changing attitudes over the past 30 years, there exists a huge gap between aspiration and achievement.  Old inequalities continue to hold us back while new social and economic fault-lines emerge as we get older and more diverse.

The review is the first in a series to be published every three years. It identifies the five critical gateways which can make the difference in life.  These are health and well-being, education and inclusion, work and wealth, safety and security and autonomy and voice. It also highlights recession, public service reform, management of migration and technological change as major risk factors in progress towards a fairer society.

Important areas of unfinished business are revealed as:

- The pay gaps across gender, race and disability
- Low levels of convictions for rape
- Low levels of employment for disabled adults and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women
- Unrepresentative public bodies, Parliaments and Councils

 While new and emerging challenges include:

- Educational stereotyping and segregation and its effect on future job chances – particularly for women and ethnic minority groups
- Poor educational attainment among pupils with Additional Support needs
- Increasing numbers of people reporting homophobic, trans-phobic, disability related and religiously and racially motivated hate crime
- The growing number of people over 50 struggling to balance the demands of employment and caring for children and older relatives

At a time of significant economic, social change, the Commission is calling on decision-makers to use the evidence as a test to judge whether their policies and decisions would increase fairness.  The three yearly assessment in the review will:

- Provide an evidence base to ensure that action and resources to tackle inequality and ensure fairness are properly targeted and vulnerable people protected from the worst effects of recession, deficit reduction and public service reform
- Set objective benchmarks to assess the ‘fairness factor’ in public policy

Launching the report, Kaliani Lyle, Scotland Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

“We know that fairness matters, not just in theory, but in each and every part of our lives.  The report shows that we are on a journey, that while public attitudes to diversity in Scotland have greatly improved, there is still much we have to do to create a fair and just Scotland.  Despite the significant shift in our views on race, on LGB people and on the roles that men and women should play in family life it is clear that we have some distance to go if we are to close the gap between our aspiration and our achievements.

It is still the case that for too many people accident of birth determines their life chances.  We have unfinished business and new social and economic fault-lines to contend with.

The report identifies five gateways to opportunity - health and well being, education and inclusion, work and wealth, safety and security and autonomy and voice.  We have held up a mirror to ourselves on these issues and see that for some people these gateways appear closed no matter how hard they try.  Our 21st century challenge is the danger of a society divided by the barriers of inequality and injustice. We now need to look unflinchingly at the evidence and focus action and resource on changing this situation. Wishful thinking itself won’t bring equality.

The Review also highlights significant gaps in knowledge and data about particular groups - for example, transgender people - which impacts on our ability to tell whether the ideals of equality and fairness are being translated into a practical change for the better in people’s real lives. 

Five challenges identified in the report – together with illustrative data from Scotland include:

Health and Wellbeing

The challenge: To eliminate the effect of social background, race and geography on health and life expectancy

* In Scotland, life expectancy is lower for men than for women. Life expectancy overall is up to three years shorter in Scotland than England.  Across Britain life expectancy is seven years higher for those in the highest socio-economic groups than the lower socio-economic groups.
* In Scotland, mortality rates in 2004/08 from illnesses such as heart disease and strokes indicate an association between levels of deprivation and mortality.
* The suicide rate is higher in Scotland than in the UK as a whole – 12.6 per 100,000 population compared with 9.51 per 100,000 population. Men are more likely to commit suicide than women, with rates particularly high for men aged 25-34 and those aged 35-44. Men and women living in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to commit suicide as those in less deprived areas. 
* The 2001 Census for Scotland reports that Bangladeshi and Pakistani people have higher rates of poor health. Once aged 60 or over a high proportion of Indian and Pakistani women and men report their health to be ‘not good’.

Education and Inclusion
The challenge: To ensure that every individual has the chance to learn and realise their talents to the full
* Boys account for 78 per cent of school exclusions in Scotland.
* Forty one per cent of permanent exclusions were among pupils from the 20 per cent of areas in Scotland with the highest levels of deprivation, compared with three per cent among pupils from areas with the lowest deprivation rates.
* It is estimated that only 20 per cent of gypsy and traveller children of secondary school age in Scotland regularly attend school; this figure may be even lower in remote areas. Even those who attend school experience unequal access to an appropriate curriculum, teacher expectations and cultural support.
* Across all three nations girls outperform boys in school attainment levels. In Scotland in 2009 the percentage of pupils achieving 5 Standard Grades at levels 1 to 3, or equivalent was 50 per cent for girls and 46 per cent for boys.
* Almost half (48%) of school leavers with Additional Support Needs (ASN) from state and special schools in Scotland achieve five or more SCQF level 3 qualifications or above, compared to 92 per cent of those with no ASN. Across Britain, disabled adults are three times as likely as others to have no qualifications.
* Two thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual students in Britain report being bullied.

Work and Wealth
The challenge: To give every person the opportunity to play a part in strengthening Britain’s economy
* Across Britain, fifty per cent of disabled adults are in work compared to 79 per cent of non disabled adults. In Scotland the figures are 47per cent compared to 82 per cent. Employment rates are particularly low for those who are both DDA and work-limiting disabled (which includes those with the most severe impairments) at only 29 per cent in Scotland
* Despite high levels of education and desire to work, British Muslim women continue to have lower levels of labour market participation than other groups. Across Britain, 51 per cent of second generation British Muslim women are inactive in the labour market, compared with only 17 per cent of second generation Hindu women.
* A CV test experiment to assess the extent of discrimination against disabled people in recruitment in the private sector in Scotland found that those who disclosed a disability were far less likely to be called for interview than those with otherwise identical CVs (31%) than those who did not disclose a disability (69%). There were also differences by type of impairment, with applicants with cerebral palsy gaining the most interviews (80%) compared with applicants who are registered blind (20%)
* There is a great deal of segregation in the labour market.  In Britain 1 in 4 Pakistani men are taxi drivers or similar, women occupy 77 per cent of admin and secretarial posts and only 1 in 3 hold managerial posts
* In Scotland, women working full time earn 12 per cent less than men.  Across the UK as a whole the pay gap is 16 per cent, black graduates face a 24 per cent penalty and disabled women a 31per cent penalty
Safety and Security
The challenge: To put an end to identity based violence and harassment
* The number of racially and religiously motivated crimes referred to the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service has been rising in recent years, as have the number of racially motivated crimes being recorded by the police in Scotland.
* In 2007 a qualitative small scale study of Scottish Gypsy Travellers experiences of discrimination found that the majority had experienced prejudice and harassment in the preceding twelve months (an increase from a previous study in 1999). Many of the incidents involved the local community, and many involved the police.
* Around one in seven women (15%) and one in nine men (11%) in Scotland state that they have experienced physical forms of partner abuse since reaching the age of 16. Around 1 in 5 women (19%) and 1 in 9 men (11%) state that they have experienced psychological abuse since reaching the age of 16.
* Crime survey data suggests that partner abuse is much more prevalent in deprived areas than other parts of Scotland. 2008/09 data shows that almost 10 per cent of people from deprived areas state that they have experienced psychological and physical abuse, compared with just over 4 per cent in other parts of Scotland, while almost six per cent have experienced physical abuse, compared with two per cent in other parts of Scotland.
* There has been an increase in reporting of rape in Scotland.  The figure went from 586 in 1999/2000 to 821 in 2008/9. While reporting has risen, the progression to conviction is less clear cut. The rape conviction rate has fallen. Calculated as a percentage of rape cases reported to the police, the conviction rate was 8 per cent in 2006/7 and just under 4 per cent in 2007/8.
* A small study in Scotland on trans people, involving 71 respondents, found that nearly half had previously experienced abuse in their relationships.

Autonomy and Voice
 The challenge: To give more people greater personal autonomy and civic power
* Care for older relatives and friends remains a gendered activity – the 2001 Census in Scotland indicated that 62 per cent of carers are women. Across Britain, women have a 50:50 change of providing care by the time they are 50, while men have the same chance by the time they are 75
* Those in lower income households are more likely to have someone in the household who regularly needs help or care. In Scotland, 20 per cent of households with an income of £6,001-10,000, and 22 per cent of households with an income of £10,001-£15,000 have someone living in the household who needs regular help or care, compared with only 5 per cent of households where the annual income is £30,001-40,000.
* In Scotland and Wales  in 2004 and 2007, almost 80 per cent of local councillors were men
* Ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the UK Parliament. There were four ethnic minority MPs in 1987 rising to 15 in 2005 (2.3% of all MPs). The number almost doubled in 2010, with 26 MPs from ethnic minority backgrounds being elected (4% of MPs). There is one ethnic minority Assembly Member in Wales and no ethnic minority MSPs in Scotland.
* Households in Scotland with a higher net income are more likely to feel that they can influence decision-making affecting their local area. People in managerial and professional occupations are around three times more likely than those in routine occupations to be involved in decision-making bodies in both England and Scotland.
* In Scotland non-disabled people are more likely to be involved in decision-making bodies than disabled people– 4 per cent compared with 2 per cent.

Notes to Editors
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Commission spokesperson please contact Alyson Thomson on 07970787234, Colin MacFarlane on 07970541369, or Deborah Cowan on 0141 228 5938

For more information on the review including the Executive Summary please visit the Commission’s website:

Read Darren's story, which illustrates some of the challenges we hope to tackle as a result of our review. 

Last Updated: 11 Oct 2010