Fairer, caring nations? The governance of care policy, constitutional change and addressing inequalities - lessons for Scotland - INVITED RESUBMISSION

Lead Research Organisation: University of Stirling
Department Name: Applied Social Science


Despite increasing powers following devolution to address women's poverty and inequality in Scotland, deep social and structural divisions remain and women experience high risks of poverty and inequality. Childcare and long-term care policies have been shown in many developed welfare states as being one effective way of tackling the structural causes of women's inequality. However, Scotland faces a 'care crisis': rising demand for care and support for disabled and older people coupled with social, economic and demographic changes which place great pressure on its resources. This is a challenge facing all developed welfare states. Scotland is not alone in attempting to tackle structural inequalities (particularly along the lines of gender, disability and age) which affect its ability to achieve a 'wealthier, fairer society'. Scotland is also not alone in attempting in particular to foster economic growth through women's greater participation in public life.

In the run-up to a referendum on constitutional change in Scotland, there is little easily-accessible evidence that tells us which option to choose if we want fairer care polices, and how to link those care policies to effective ways to tackle gender inequality in Scotland. How should we organise the 'governance' of care in Scotland to achieve gender equality? If Scotland remains part of the UK, can it tackle gender inequality through its care policies? If it choses independence, how should it organise its care policies to tackle gender inequality? What kind of governance options in care policy are available?

This project will gather evidence to answer the following questions:

1. What does the international evidence tell us about the potential for care policy to address or exacerbate inequality?
2. What governance options offer the best outcomes in addressing inequalities through care policy?
3. What role do national, regional and local care policies play in achieving equitable, fair outcomes in care policy?
4. What governance options in care policy should Scotland choose to achieve equitable, fair outcomes in care policy?
5. How would constitutional change (e.g. independence) affect these options?

The project would do this by:

1. Drawing together the available evidence from developed welfare states who have managed to achieve good levels of egalitarian policy outcomes, particularly (but not exclusively) on gendered lines
2. Identifying examples of 'good' welfare regimes and examining their care policies in detail
3. Testing the evidence out on a range of people in Scotland and Wales who are concerned with gender equality and care policy
4. Working with a range of people and organisations to see which features of policy could translate into the Scottish policy context
5. Giving individuals and organisations the evidence to campaign for the constitutional option in Scotland which will stand the greatest chance of achieving 'fair' care policy, and a more gender equal society.

In developing this project, the applicant has drawn on existing academic knowledge about welfare regimes, care policies and gender inequality. However, she has also drawn on issues that have been raised by non-academic experts on gender inequality and care policy in Scotland. In this project, she will continue to work with international experts and key stakeholders in Scotland to reach a wide audience and have a significant impact on the debates about Scotland's constitutional future.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of this research include (but are not limited to):

1. Feminist third sector organisations in Scotland concerned with gender equality in the light of constitutional change (for example, Engender, Scottish Women's Aid, grassroots women's organisations who are organisational members of Engender)
2. Individuals who are concerned with the impact constitutional change may have on gender equality in Scotland (for example individual members of Engender, journalists and campaigners such as Lesley Riddoch, Severin Caroll, Joyce Macmillan)
3. Scottish policy networks inside the Scottish Government, and working with the Scottish Government on issues concerning gender equality (such as the Scottish Women's Budget Group, Women onto Work, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Close the Gap, the Equalities and Budgets Advisory Group and Equalities Group in the Scottish Government)
4. Cross-party MSPs concerned with care policy and equalities issues
5. Third sector organisations representing the interests of users of care services in Scotland (e.g. the Scottish Carers National Association, the Scottish Community Care Providers Organisation, Glasgow Disability Alliance, Glasgow Centre for Independent Living)

Representatives from all the above groups have been involved in the design of this project and the linked knowledge exchange project 'Constitutional Futures: gender equality matters in a new Scotland'. See the Pathways to Impact document for details of how these groups will be involved in, and directly benefit from the project, and the Case for Support for further details of academic and non-academic dissemination.

The project has the potential to improve care policies and gender outcomes in Scotland in the following ways:

1. By improving our understanding of the link between care policy and (in)equality;
2. By improving our knowledge of the link between governance structures and (in)equitable outcomes in care policy;
3. By providing stakeholders - particularly the individuals and organisations described above - with high quality research evidence to develop their own policies and practices
4. By providing an evidence base concerning the links between care policy and (in)equality to be used to inform decision making about the options for constitutional change in Scotland
5. By providing individuals, organisations and communities of interest with the tools and evidence to carry out further research and campaign for constitutional change in Scotland
6. By providing evidence to inform the development of evidence based policy and practice inside and beyond the Scottish Government concerning care policy and gender equality

Impact in the wider non-academic community - particularly in ways which will inform the debate leading up to the referendum on Scottish independence - will be achieved through the production of policy briefings, accessible reports, press releases, virtual seminars and articles in non-academic journals, which will be disseminated through key partners (organisations, networks and journalists) in a way that will get to the wider public (e.g. union and organisational members, the general public, politicians, policy makers and practitioners).
Description We found that there were three main models of care policy amongst gender-equal welfare states which had elements that could be transferred to other welfare states such as the UK, and devolved nations such as Scotland. The Universal Model (Sweden, Iceland and Denmark - other examples include Finland and Norway) uses the state to provide universal childcare and long-term care services. This offers the best gender equality outcomes, but it is difficult to achieve flexibility for individuals, and it needs substantial investment. The Partnership Model (Germany and the Netherlands - other examples include France, Luxembourg, Austria - although other examples are worse than the UK on gender equality) facilitates a partnership between individual families, the market and the state in providing services. If these services have universal coverage they can produce better gender equality outcomes whilst enabling flexibility for families and individuals. The final model, the Devolved model (Quebec - other examples include Flanders and Catalonia) demonstrate that given sufficient powers and constitutional frameworks, devolved states such as Scotland could deviate from a policy path set by central government and achieve better gender outcomes - with the caveat that coverage again needs to be universal. The Partnership Model and the Devolved Model offer the most possibilities and fewest barriers for policy transfer to the UK and Scotland.
Exploitation Route We are currently advising the Scottish Government and the UK government, as well as several charities, about our findings and hope to see elements in changes to welfare reform and childcare strategy in Scotland and the UK as a result of this advise. We are also advising the Women's Equality Party in Scotland and the UK to adjust their policy objectives in light of our findings, and hope to work with other parties such as the Green Party in the same way.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The evidence has been used as part of the Expert Committee on Carers Allowance reporting to the Scottish Government, as well as presented to the Welfare Committee in the Scottish Government. It has been used by different organisations such as Engender, Save the Children, the Women's Equality Party and others to submit evidence to Parliament to inform the forthcoming Scotland Bill (on the devolution of welfare powers such as DLA and Carers Allowance). We expect to see results of this in the forthcoming Bill and will publish results as they become available.
Sector Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services