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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-08138: Alex Rowley (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 16 March 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it has taken to (a) fill evidence gaps on (i) how and (ii) to what extent people from minority ethnic groups are accessing benefits to which they are entitled and (b) ensure that all anti-poverty policy and programme areas are fully impact-assessed for equality.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 30 March 2017

The Race Equality Framework committed the Scottish Government to fill the gaps in current knowledge on how and to what extent minority ethnic people are accessing the benefits they are entitled to. The Framework covers the period 2016-2030, and we have already taken some action on this front.

During the social security consultation, we spoke directly to minority ethnic groups and listened closely to what they told us in terms of the issues they faced of access and culture with a view to ensuring that the delivery of our social security system understands and can support action to overcome these barriers.

The benefit take up campaign launched in March 2017 was the first phase of our work in this area. This work will be developed over the course of the parliamentary term. We will continue to listen to and take views from a range of equality organisations on how best to increase take up amongst groups that are currently under represented as part of this process. We remain absolutely committed to working with our partners to ensure that all groups and communities access what they are entitled to.

More widely social security Experience Panels will ensure that those in receipt of benefits are involved in designing the social security system in a meaningful way. By sampling from DWP lists of current recipients, and by having separate panels for each benefit (or group of benefits) each panel will be representative of people in Scotland currently receiving the devolved benefits. The sample has been drawn using the National Record of Statistics postcode list for Scotland so will cover all areas of Scotland. We will also work closely with key organisations to ensure that minority ethnic communities are fully represented on the panels.

An initial equality impact assessment was published as part of the social security consultation with a request for respondents to help develop this further for publication alongside the Social Security Bill.