Equality and Human Rights

COSLA continues to support Scottish Local Authorities to promote a culture of equality and human rights. Local Authorities are already delivering on human rights although their work may not always be described (or recognised) as such.  Delivering on Getting It Right for Every Child for more than a decade has ensured that education and children’s services within councils are human rights focused.  The development of person-centred approaches in social care is taking other parts of councils on a similar journey.  The community engagement work that councils are increasingly using to inform their planning, policy development and service delivery design also contributes to the emergence of a rights-focused culture.  There is also innovation around participatory budgeting and integrated equality and human rights assessments in some areas. Local Authorities have also been delivering on the Public Sector Equality Duty introduced by the Equality Act 2010. This includes requirements to mainstream equality by integrating the general equality duty into the day to day work of Local Authorities as well as setting and reporting progress on specific equality outcomes.

There are a number of key workstreams on equality and human rights that COSLA is leading on for Local Government through 2020.

National Taskforce on Human Rights Leadership

COSLA is a member of the National Taskforce on Human Rights Leadership which was established in 2019 in response to the recommendations from the First Ministers Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership. The purpose of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership is to design and deliver detailed proposals for a new statutory framework for human rights for Scotland, together with the associated requirements for a public participatory process and for capacity-building initiatives. The Taskforce will make recommendations to the Scottish Government in March 2021.

Review of the Public Sector Equality Duty

During 2020 the Scottish Government started the review of the Public Sector Equality Duty. This work has been postponed due to the pandemic, but it anticipate that it will be taken forward again in 2021. This will provide an opportunity to identify the successes and challenges for Local Authorities stemming from the Duty. COSLA will work with Local Authorities to contribute to the review to ensure the Duty achieves its intended outcome of eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and foster good relations alongside the Scottish Specific Duties.

Equality and Human Rights Based Budgeting

Through our work with the Equality Budgeting Advisory Group (EBAG) COSLA contributed to the drafting of informal guidance to policy makers on equality and human rights budgeting. The booklet Improving People’s Wellbeing challenges policy makers to systematically think through 6 key questions to identify ways in which budget decision could be improved to advance human rights and address inequalities. Budget decisions include both those make about the money spent and how revenue is raised. 

Equality Impact Assessments

Some tools available for people conducting Equality Impact Assessments:

·        Equality Evidence Finder brings together the latest statistics and research, published by Scottish Government and its Agencies. This presents a summary of the available evidence by equality characteristic, policy area or National Performance Framework indicator.

·        “Mountains for All” is an animation training tool designed to help people understand EQIA’s


Further examples of work COSLA is involved with include:

·         Supporting the development of the second Scottish National Action Plan on Human Rights (SNAP) and the vision of a Scotland in which everyone is able to live with dignity.

·         Working to ensure local authorities are supported to respond to the Equality Act 2010 by making better use of national resources and promoting opportunities for good practice sharing through the Scottish Government Scottish National Equality Improvement Project (SNEIP) Sounding Board.

·         Supporting the Scottish Councils’ Equality Network (SCEN), to ensure we are informed by local authorities on key equality and human rights issues and local authorities are kept fully informed of COSLA’s work in this area.

·         Participating in the Equality Budget Advisory Group (EBAG), to ensure COSLA contributes to shaping Scottish Government’s equality approach to the Budget.

·         Developing the diversity of local elected representatives, addressing barriers, and encouraging and supporting a wider range of people to vote and come forward as candidates, and identifying changes in culture and practices that further open up Scotland’s democracy.

Last updated: 25th January 2021