Minority groups in Scotland 'still disadvantaged'

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Media captionMinority groups in Scotland 'still disadvantaged'

People from ethnic minorities in Scotland are four times more likely than the general population to live in overcrowded accommodation, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

They are also twice as likely to be poor and out of work.

EHRC said the findings will provide a baseline against which to measure progress in future.

The Scottish government said it was working to eradicating racism.

Cabinet Secretary for Equalities Angela Constance pointed to the Race Equality Framework, published in March 2016, which she described as a "ground-breaking approach to advancing race equality".

She said: "It's completely unacceptable that minority ethnic households should face any barriers to education, employment and housing.

"That is why we are leading the way across the UK, undertaking a wide-range of actions to address these inequalities."


The EHRC report draws together evidence across a wide range of social issues.

It says ethnic minority households are four times more likely than white households to live in overcrowded properties - 11.8% compared with 2.9%.

After housing costs, 36% of people from ethnic minorities were in poverty, compared with 17% of white people.

Unemployment rates for people from ethnic minorities in 2013 were significantly higher than for the population as a whole - 13.2% compared with 6.9%.

Abdul Boostani came to Scotland as an asylum seeker from Afghanistan 16 years ago. He has a degree from Strathclyde University, but has struggled to find work.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Always people were initially looking for experience which I didn't really have.

"Then later on there was a recession and unemployment was going up nationally. I think the ethnic minority communities were more affected compared with the native community of Scotland."

Most ethnic minority pupils do much better at school than their white classmates, but Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children do much worse.

Just over half of Gypsies and Travellers in Scotland are economically inactive, and many live in what the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee described as "horrendous conditions".

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Significance of the report

BBC reporter Huw Williams

The report pulls together a vast amount of existing evidence, and the EHRC hopes that by presenting all the findings in one piece of work it will have an impact much greater than the sum of its parts.

There's an acknowledgement that the issues in Scotland are different from - perhaps haven't hit the headlines as much as - the picture in England and Wales.

That may in part be because in the past Scots public bodies haven't broken their statistics down by ethnic origin. In one telling phrase, about access to mental health services, the authors say: "There is limited data available for Scotland, however, these gaps do not relate to the absence of an issue, but simply an absence of data."

It's obviously also relevant that the proportion of the population from non-white ethnic groups is just 4% in Scotland, compared with around 13% across the UK.

There are problems accessing health services.

In Scotland, a greater proportion of Gypsy/Travellers rated their health as "bad" or "very bad" (15%) compared with the average for Scotland (6%).

And Scottish government analysis of the 2011 Census found that older Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women report considerably worse health than older men in these ethnic minorities.

Research by the Marie Curie terminal care charity found that Black, Asian and "Other" ethnic minority communities are underrepresented among those using palliative care services at the end of life.

There are more foetal and infant deaths where the mother identifies as "South Asian" or "Other" ethnicity than would be expected.

The report also highlights what it calls "significant occupational segregation".

Polish employment

Polish people had the highest rates of work - 81% are either employed or self-employed.

Gypsy/Travellers, Arab and Chinese people are the least likely to be in work. But, the report said, Arab and Chinese people in Scotland include a high proportion of students.

Of Indians living in Scotland, 38% work in wholesale or retail (compared with 15% for the general population). And almost a third of Chinese people here are employed in the accommodation and food industries (against a 6% national figure).

People from an ethnic minority background are underrepresented in senior management jobs in Scotland; in the police and criminal justice system; on local councils; and in take-up of Modern Apprenticeships.

The authors note that in Scotland racially-motivated hate crime is falling, but remains the most commonly reported hate crime.

Alastair Pringle, the director of EHRC in Scotland, said: "Inequality damages everyone and weakens the fabric of our society.

"We need to get better at dealing with the different causes of poverty and unemployment, educational outcomes and the housing conditions."

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