Our report highlights key issues impacting on economic, social and cultural rights in Scotland and the UK.

The ALLIANCE has submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The report outlines core issues that we suggest the Committee may consider raising with the UK and Scottish Governments in its seventh periodic review of the UK Government’s progress towards implementing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It draws on an existing evidence base, informed by engagement with ALLIANCE members and partners.

The UK Government is a State Party to ICESCR and therefore has ultimate responsibility for implementing the rights outlined in the Covenant. These include rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and the right to social security. As a devolved nation, Scotland also has responsibility to protect human rights in devolved policy areas.

The key issues raised in our report are summarised below:

  • UK Bill of Rights Bill. In June 2022, the UK Government introduced the Bill of Rights Bill to the UK Parliament. If enacted, the Bill of the Bill of Rights would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and replace it with much weaker protections.
  • Human Rights Incorporation (Scotland) Bill. The Scottish Government has committed to introducing a new Human Rights Bill which will incorporate ICESCR and three other international treaties into Scots law. It is vital that the work to develop this Bill is prioritised, and that implementation plans are not delayed.
  • The gendered nature of caring. Systemic underinvestment in the social care sector has led to long term, ongoing problems with recruitment and retention. Around 85% of the social care workforce in Scotland identify as female, and around 70% of unpaid care is carried out by women. Workforce issues relating to social care are therefore highly gendered. Failure to address these issues will exacerbate inequality in women’s working conditions an Scotland’s’ gender pay gap.
  • Social security. The social security system for disabled people, people with long term conditions and unpaid carers can often be confusing, undignified and does not fully respect their human rights.
  • Cost of living crisis. Disabled people, people living with long term conditions, and unpaid carers are more likely to find themselves both with higher bills and with less ability to pay. Measures taken by the UK Government have not gone far enough to ensure an adequate standard of living for disabled people, people living with long term conditions and unpaid carers.
  • Provision of accessible housing. A lack of accessible housing in the UK is having a direct impact on the rights of disabled people, including their ability to live independently.
  • Social care. Social care does not work for many people and families across Scotland, with an ensuing impact on human rights and the quality of life and mental wellbeing for people accessing support and unpaid carers.
  • Mental health. It is widely recognised that people with lived experience of mental health conditions in Scotland do not enjoy their human rights as fully as they could, and that barriers exist for unpaid carers in supporting people living with mental health conditions, including stigma and discrimination.
  • Climate change. A changing environment and extreme weather effects is having a direct impact on certain groups including disabled people and people living with long term conditions. Evidence suggests that the UK is not keeping pace with climate impacts, and more needs to be done to ensure that all parts of society are working to reduce emissions causing climate change, including within health and social care.

You can read our full response via the resource list below.

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