Treasury Committee calls for assessment of Budget equality impact

By agency reporter
February 17, 2019

The Women’s Budget Group (WBG) has welcomed the recommendation from the Treasury Select Committee that the next budget should include "quantitative analysis of the equalities impact of individual tax and welfare measures in all cases where data are available".

The Committee’s report on the 2018 Budget states that there has been "some improvement in the provision of equalities and gender impact assessments in this Budget, but they fall well short of the 'robust [ … ] assessments of future Budgets, including the individual tax and welfare measures contained within them' that the Committee recommended at the last Budget."

The WBG has long called for the Treasury to carry out meaningful gender and other equality impact assessments of all spending and taxation decisions in the budget. Under the Public Sector Equality Duty all public bodies, including the Treasury, are obliged to have ‘due regard’ to the impact of their policies on equality. The main way public bodies do this is through carrying out Equality Impact Assessments. 

For years the Treasury has failed to publish a full impact assessment of budget announcements and 2018 was no exception. The Tax Information and Impact Notes (TIINs) contained some equality impact assessments but these were limited. The equality impact assessment of the increase in the personal allowance did not include details of how many men and how many women there are in each category, or how much of the benefit of the cut will be received by men and how much by women.

In the absence of this analysis, the WBG and others have carried out their own impact assessments:

  • WBG member and former Chair, Professor Diane Elson, gave evidence to the Committee that 63 per cent of the gains from the raising of the personal income tax thresholds went to men and 37 per cent to women.
  • WBG and the Runnymede Trust have produced cumulative impact assessments of budget policies since 2010 by gender race and class, showing that austerity policies have hit the poor harder than the rich, women harder than men, and BME women hardest of all.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced equality impact analysis of the cumulative impact of tax and social security cuts and changes and the impact of cuts to spending on public services

Responding to the Committee’s report, WBG Director Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson said: "We are very pleased that the Select Committee is continuing to put pressure on the Treasury to produce equality impact assessments of its policies. Our work with the Runnymede Trust, as well as reports by the EHRC and others has shown that this can be done. But this should be the responsibility of the Treasury itself. Without an impact assessment policy makers cannot tell whether policies on tax, benefit or spending on public services will improve equality or make things worse. We hope that the Treasury will listen to the Committee and take action in time for the 2019 spending review."

* Read the Committee's recommendation here

* Women's Budget Group https://wbg.org.uk/

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