Scotland’s Ethnic Minorities face overcrowding, poverty and unemployment, says equality and human rights body

Published: 18 Aug 2016

A new report published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on race equality, has found that in Scotland, if you are born into an ethnic minority household today, you are nearly four times more likely to be in a household that is overcrowded and up to twice as likely to be living in poverty and experiencing unemployment.

The report is the biggest ever analysis of existing evidence into race equality in Scotland and focuses on poverty, education, employment, and housing.

Alastair Pringle, Director the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland said:

"This report shows Scotland has unique challenges to address on race equality. Whilst we do not share the issues of racial disproportionality of stop and search or high ethnic minority prison populations that our report highlights elsewhere in Britain, ethnic minorities in Scotland still face real challenges in terms of poor housing, unemployment and poverty.    

The Scottish Government is taking action on these issues, but their policies are often targeted at areas of socio-economic deprivation. Our evidence shows that while people from ethnic minorities experience higher levels of poverty and unemployment they don’t necessarily live in the most deprived areas of Scotland. Our policies need to have a sharper focus- not just concentrated on postcode, but also focussed on communities who experience disadvantage because of who they are, where they’re from, or the colour of their skin.  

Local and national government are not setting out with the intention to discriminate – but if their policies aren’t sufficiently nuanced then the effect can be the same. 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.”

The Commission is also calling for action on recording and reporting of racist incidents and bullying in schools to form part of the solution to tackle race inequality. This issue was raised by the Commission at the U.N. in Geneva last week. In 2013/14 Police Scotland recorded 4,807 racial incidents alone. The only data on schools that is available was gathered by Tavish Scott MSP via FOI and shows that schools recorded less incidents over 5 years than Police Scotland recorded in one.

Alastair Pringle continued:

“We know that half of all racial incidents reported to the Police are committed by people under 20, and half of those are by people under the age of 16. Racist bullying damages children’s life chances, and affects their attendance and attainment. Knowing where and when incidents are happening in our schools will help everyone in the community to focus their efforts on reducing racism wherever it occurs.

It’s in everyone interest to make identity based bullying a thing of the past."

Our in-depth analysis of evidence highlights a worrying picture of race inequality across Scotland, which includes:


  • In 2013 ethnic minority households were four times more likely than White households to live in overcrowded properties – 11.8% compared with 2.9%.


  • In 2013/14 people from ethnic minorities were more twice as likely live in poverty, both before and after housing costs, compared to ‘White-British’ people:
    • After housing costs, 36% of people from ethnic minorities were in poverty, compared with 17% of ‘White-British’ people.


  • Unemployment rates for people from ethnic minorities in 2013 were significantly higher than for White people – 13.2% compared with 6.9%
  • In 2013, only 57.4% of people from ethnic minorities were in work compared with 73.8% of White people
  • Unemployment rates for people from ethnic minorities in 2013 were significantly higher than for White people – 13.2% compared with 6.9%
  • Just 2.1% of modern apprenticeships are filled by ethnic minorities although 5% of the target group for apprenticeships across Scotland are from ethnic minority groups. (Skills Development Scotland, Q1 2016).


  • Just 6% of Black school leavers from across GB attended a Russell Group university (Edinburgh and Glasgow), compared with 12% of mixed and Asian school leavers and 11% of white school leavers.
  • 1 in 4 Scottish pupils said they were aware of peers suffering prejudice based bullying.

The Commission welcomes the Scottish Government’s recent publication of their comprehensive race equality framework 2016-30 and the wide reaching engagement they undertook to develop this strategy.

Our report today highlights some of the current baseline of evidence which should be used as a benchmark on which to measure progress on this race framework to ensure it delivers real improvements in the lived experience of Scotland’s ethnic minorities.

Note to editors

For more press information and interviews contact Sarah Thoms on 0141 228 5974, out of office hours 07854 193592.

The full report can be found here.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government published its race equality framework 2016-30 which aims to reduce the gaps in outcomes for Scotland’s ethnic minority groups across a range of policy areas.

Press contact details

For more press information contact the Commission's media office on:

0161 829 8102