Background

The aims of the ‘Lets leave no one behind’ study were to better understand how people who are already disadvantaged and affected by poverty also face additional barriers in accessing anti-poverty measures or initiatives due to their protected characteristics.

Within the Equality Act 2010 the term “protected characteristics” refers to groups of people and the protections they have by law from being treated unfairly based on 9 characteristics, i.e. age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

While the Equality Act 2010 did not initially concern socio-economic disadvantage, the Fairer Scotland Duty, which came into force in Scotland from April 2018, has placed a legal responsibility on particular public bodies in Scotland to actively consider how they can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage, when making strategic decisions. This study aims to bring into the spotlight the interplay between inequality and equality in anti-poverty services and initiatives.

Links to the full report and presentation:

Conclusions and recommendations

  • Poverty is an issue that affects all groups, cutting across protected characteristics.
    • Services in Fife should continue to focus on poverty as a recognised priority issue, partnership working where appropriate.
  • Certain protected characteristics are more likely to increase an individual’s vulnerability to poverty. These include ethnicity, disability and single parenthood, with affordable and adequate transport and childcare being reported as a significant issue.
    • There is scope to review the support currently provided to these groups. There may also be scope to better involve service users in this process to help identify accessibility and support requirements.
  • The effect of poverty on mental health can be significant, and this can be magnified by concern about the view of others.
    • Some protected characteristic groups perceive a stigma against them, feeling that inaccurate perceptions limit their opportunities and hinder efforts to access work or training.
  • Social networks and connections with peer groups allow individuals to support each other and share their experiences, having a positive effect on their mental health.
    • There may be scope for organisations to play a stronger role in providing gathering spaces for such groups, promoting connections between those in need of support.
    • There is scope for services working with protected characteristic groups to strengthen communication and promotion around their work and outreach activities.
  • It is difficult to ascertain the true level of demand on services, as studies have shown that certain groups are less likely to seek support. Young men have been identified as particularly reluctant to come forward.
    • There is scope for services to assess service demand and whether any specific group(s) with protected characteristics are under-represented and the extent to which services can be inclusive, such as flexibility and capacity to accommodate reasonable adjustments.
  • Certain protected characteristics are at greater risk of missing out on support and assistance they are entitled to, with language barriers having a significant impact. Ethnic minorities and refugees are at particular risk of missing out on support, due to language barriers and lack of understanding about what assistance is available.
    • There is scope for services to assess how such individuals can be supported, with the recognition that such support is unlikely to be confined to normal working hours.
    • There is scope for services to provide targeted guidance in different formats and languages, responding to the fact that the system is seen as complex by many participants, e.g. welfare benefits.

Further information

Authors
This report was prepared by:

  • Dr Gary Smith, Analyst
  • Pauleen Amour-Barclay, Research Advisor
  • Dr William Penrice, Research Manager

Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Nina Munday and Elric Honoré from Fife Centre for Equalities for their input into this project. Fife Council’s Research Team and Fife Centre for Equalities are extremely grateful to those who participated in this research, including the survey respondents, the organisations who supported the focus groups, and the individuals who attended the focus groups and willingly shared their personal stories.

Contacts If you have an queries on this report, please contact Nina Munday, Manager, or Elric Honoré, Development Officer, at Fife Centre for Equalities – info@centreforequalities.org.uk.

Fife Council’s Research Team are always happy to speak to you about your own research work and either provide guidance, mentoring or more formal support depending on what is required. The priority we can give this may change depending on what else we have on, so contact us early if you can. Contact in the first instance should be via Dr William Penrice, Research Manager, Fife Council – William.Penrice@fife.gov.uk.

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