Measuring Scotland’s Progress – What about BME people?
CRER's Kirsty McNeill explores the findings of our new research report, Scotland's National Performance Framework – Measuring outcomes for minority ethnic communities
Yesterday’s Programme for Government stated that “The National Performance Framework has promoting equality at its heart .... It challenges us to ensure the needs of our most disadvantaged and marginalised communities are at the forefront as we take action to recover from COVID‑19... It is expected ongoing economic impacts will be felt disproportionally by women, those from minority ethnic communities and disabled people..... It is essential we continue to strengthen our approach to equality and human rights across Government by listening, understanding and involving the people affected by our policies.”
This shows a clear commitment to inclusive progress as we rebuild following COVID-19. But how can we measure progress to ensure the disproportionately affected groups aren’t being left behind?
New research published by CRER today uses the National Performance Framework to highlight how progress in Scotland has been impacting BME people, but points to consistent failings in data that make race equality harder to track.
The Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework (NPF) is the key mechanism for benchmarking environmental, economic and social progress in Scotland. The NPF is intended to both guide policy making and ensure accountability.
The NPF contains 11 National Outcomes covering all areas of government activity, from education to health to the environment, which each have related National Indicators (such as educational attainment). Through the Framework, the Scottish Government aims to:
Create a more successful country
Give opportunities to all people living in Scotland
Increase the wellbeing of people living in Scotland
Create sustainable and inclusive growth
Reduce inequalities and give equal importance to economic, environmental and social progress
The NPF has the potential to be a fantastic tool for race equality in Scotland, not least in terms of the importance for opportunities for all and the move to reduce inequalities generally. Equally the Equality Evidence Finder which looks at the Indicators through the lens of protected characteristics, providing available data for each, has a powerful potential.
There are 81 National Indicators within the NPF, of which 10 of which are still in development and 31 are not suitable for a race equality analysis. Our research found that, for 65% of the remaining 40 indicators, no ethnicity data was available on Equality Evidence Finder. Of the remaining 14 which did have some data, an analysis of performance over time was only possible for nine due to lack of data from previous years.
The result was that, overall, less than a quarter of the 40 indicators which could theoretically be analysed by ethnicity were actually suitable for analysis. This makes it impossible to effectively track progress (or lack of) for minority ethnic people.
In fact, five of the 11 headline National Outcomes had no indicators with ethnicity data available on Equality Evidence Finder. Despite minority ethnic groups being twice as likely to experience poverty as the majority ethnic population, there was no data for BME groups in the Poverty National Outcome. Similarly, the Health National Outcome had no data despite Scottish Government knowledge that improvements are needed to better meet the health needs of minority ethnic people in Scotland.
Based on our findings, the report makes a series of recommendations for Scottish Government:
Provide a detailed ethnic breakdown for all relevant data, including data relating to National Performance Framework indicators, at as granular a level as possible
Improve the availability of intersectional equality data
Include analysis and narrative on racial disparities within all progress reporting for the National Performance Framework and other relevant policies and strategies
Make the necessary investments or policy changes to rectify gaps where data disaggregated by ethnicity is not yet available
CRER previously wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to call for immediate action on racial equality in Scotland. The letter set out five simple, practical action points the Scottish Government should take immediate for racial equality in Scotland. One action point relates to NPF, and links closely to the report’s recommendations:
“Include analysis and narrative on racial disparities within all progress reporting on the National Performance Framework, and where data disaggregated by ethnicity is not available, make the necessary investments or policy changes to address this.”
The Scottish Government recently responded to CRER’s letter. Part of this response said the Scottish Government are continually working to improve the availability of data on Equality Evidence Finder. However, this needs a greater sense of urgency – particularly for the Poverty and Health National Outcomes - if BME people are going to benefit equally from the NPF.
The volume of indicators that can’t be disaggregated by ethnicity demonstrate that the NPF isn’t currently functioning in a way that allows measurement of progress for minority ethnic people. This, in itself, can be seen as a racial inequality. Without the data, policy action on race equality will continue to be difficult to secure. From a race equality perspective, the intended scrutiny function of Equality Evidence Finder is failing. How can Government be held to account when we can’t define the scale of the problems impacting people?
With view of this, we continue to urge Scottish Government to include analysis and narrative on racial disparities within all progress reporting on the National Performance Framework, and where data disaggregated by ethnicity is not available, make the necessary investments or policy changes to address this.
Only then will the Scottish Government honestly be able to say that the National Performance Framework has promoting equality at its heart and that it really is listening, understanding and involving the people affected by their policies.